Parallel 43 – Importing The Wines of Eastern Europe
Parallel 43 is the latitude of the wine region in Bulgaria and was the inspiration for the name of this wine importer and wholesaler based in Northern Virginia. It is also the same parallel as the city of Boston here in the USA. Parallel 43 specializes in wines from Eastern Europe and is family owned and operated by Bulgarian natives Orlin Marintchev, his son Hristo and his daughter Gergana and her husband Rhys Davies (who is a native of Ireland). They all bring special talent to the table when it comes to getting their wine into the glasses of Northern Virginian’s. The wines that bear the Parallel 43 label come from a region that has long been known for their wine-making traditions and there are some very interesting, world class wines of both international and regional varietals. We had the pleasure of tasting several of them during our interview and we are very impressed with what we tasted.
While all of them have sophisticated palettes when it comes to wine and all weigh in on the wines that they are importing, Orlin is the expert on the wines and their origins, Gergana keeps the day-to-day end of the business running smoothly and Rhys is the front of the house guy who handles sales and tastings. Hristo runs his own business in conjunction with being the label designer and the creative guru at Parallel. If you look closely at the labels you will begin to see a theme in their design. They are all geometric figures with their spellings in Latin. This was the brain child of Hristo.
They told us that they have regular “symposiums” (as opposed to staff meetings) when making decisions regarding the business. They are all very strong personalities and it was a pleasure to be part of a “symposium” when we did the interview. They have been in business now for about a year and a half and it suits them well.
Being wine drinkers ourselves, we are very impressed with the quality of the wines we tasted. Several of them are pictured in one of the accompanying photos. While many of us are used to wines made from different grapes being blended, several of these wines are made from vines that have been crossed creating a new hybrid.
Quoted from their website, “We strive to reintroduce a wide variety of great wines from this forgotten region to the curious wine lover eager to discover a real ‘old world’ gem. More specifically, we concentrate on terroir-driven and boutique wines that combine the region’s wine-making capacity and traditions with a modern understanding of the world today.” After meeting this fun family you can be assured that this is definitely their mission. They go on to say, “Our wines are carefully selected from two great Bulgarian wine-growing regions – the Thracian Valley in the south and the Danube Plain in the northwest. These wines, produced in small quantities, are deeply connected to their terroirs and exhibit their unique characteristics.”
“The wines from the upper Thracian Valley come from the alluvial soils in the collar of three massive mountain chains. Part of those wines are grown in the southwestern-most corner of Bulgariaand the region of Melnik. This region is sunny and dry with sediment-rich, pebbly and sandy soil. The wines from the northwest come from the Belogradchik region, also known as Bulgaria’s ‘Monuement Valley’. These soils are surrounded by 240 million year-old red sandstone. Typical with its cooler climate, this region’s vineyards struggle against cold winters and comparatively dry summer seasons, thus producing impressive wines.”
Since Parallel 43 is an importer and wholesaler, we regular Joe Blows can’t purchase directly from them, however, they are available locally in the Alexandria area at several restaurants – Columbia Firehouse, Crystal City Sports Bar, Jackson 20, Vermillion, RT’s, Russian Gourmet, Planet Wine and LaPorta’s to name a few. The only retail outlet currently in the Old Town area is Europa ExpressMart on Jefferson Street. The wine is also available in restaurants and retail stores in several surrounding suburbs as well as in D.C. Their market is ever expanding.
For more information on the individual wines that carry their label or if you have an interest in becoming a vendor log on to their website at www.parallel43.com.
Written by: Lani Gering