ARCANA brandy – the art of capturing the spirit in a bottle

An inspiring meeting with Mariana Galabova from Seewines In our “Interview” section we will meet an exceptional woman who is part of the team that created an inspiring product – brandy called ARKANA.

It turns out that Mariana is not the only woman who creates high-alcohol drinks in our country. And as she jokingly put it – I remember at least 4-5 more ladies “potters”. We talk about the journey from “Abe you don’t drink at all ?!” – a regular remark of her close friends when they go out together, to the creation of fine wines and distillates, we talk about the things of life and the art of making brandy.

We present you Mariana Galabova, a young lady with an exceptional sense and flair for wine and distillates and part of the team that created the latest product of Seaweights Spirit. The first brandy in their portfolio is called Arcana. The team manages to combine the traditional knowledge about this – “how to make a good brandy” refracted through the prism of innovations, knowledge and technology available to the new generation – in the person of Mariana Galabova. Mariana is a graduate of UFT-Plovdiv, a master oenologist and a PhD candidate in spirits at the same university.

While working on her doctoral dissertation, her first brandy as part of the Seawine Spirit team was already a fact and began to garner applause from connoisseurs. Apart from the fermentation vessels, in the laboratory you can also see Mariana outside the field with pruning shears in hand, because apart from wine and brandy, of course also from vineyards – she is completing a second master’s degree in international plant protection at Plovdiv Agricultural University.

“It’s a shame not to know what grapes are coming to the cellar, not to know the process of growing the vines, I wanted to close the cycle. My mother is an agronomist and it was kind of natural for me to follow in her footsteps, because this science has always been a part of my life, ”she says. We immersed ourselves in personal memories and stories about one of our great-grandmothers, who secretly drank a sip of brandy in the morning and wine every night and lived to be almost 100 years old.

She told us about her two grandfathers, and especially the one from Plovdiv, with whom as a child she toured the wineries around the city and went to the market for good wine in cellars around the city, and she was curious about the various items that accompanied the winemaking process.

She also told us about her grandmother, the doctor whose footsteps she had studied chemistry and biology. We are glad that Mariana has followed her heart and has chosen to follow her own path, so that today we have the chance to immerse ourselves in the magic of the drinks that are born with her participation – as fine, tender, delicate and refined as herself. For Mariana, everything is important in making brandy.

The whole team is important, who and how takes care of the grapes during the year, who is the agronomist, the technician-winemakers are also a very important part of the process. The technologist is the brain, but everyone in the chain is important to the end result. He often mentions the name of the executive director of the company – Dilyana Vasileva, who is usually on the front line, even in production. This year, during the campaign, it so happened that the “twins”, as Mariana shared, “processed” 5-6 tons of grapes themselves, box by box.

Our team is great and it is a pleasure to work in such an atmosphere. We are dedicated to the work, everything is new, interesting, exciting not only for me. This charges me for the next day, because I am a person who does not stop looking for challenges at work, but also personally, I am always looking for a way to develop. This year, for example, I published a book for motorcycles and forklifts. I am already considering enrolling in an Italian language course, English and French are not enough for me (laughs). It is important to do what you love, what is close to your heart.

Naturally, my questions come, how to drink brandy, with or without ice? Definitely without ice, but if there is a salad next to it, maybe with ice (laughs). But in the tasting itself as well as in the wine, attention is paid first to the color, then to the aromas, it is left to calm down a bit, then the cup can be turned again, you can smell it again, and finally the evaluation of the taste comes. At room temperature it is best to taste, because cold brandy is more closed. In fact, if ice is added, the concentration of ethanol will decrease, which leads to the opening of other aromas and flavors.

Since at the start of the tasting the palate is not used yet, it is good to start with a very small sip, which is like preparation for the real part. The next drink can be in larger quantities, it is important to keep the brandy in your mouth, to feel every taste and flavor-aroma it leaves. As with wine, we can talk about fruit and floral flavors, for example, texture, aftertaste. And in what glass, how fashionable is it to serve brandy? For example, in the form of tulips or in the ISO standardized ones, which are used for wine, they are tiny, narrower at the top, and slightly tufted at the bottom.

It is important that the glasses do not have side aromas and it is good to check this before tasting. We will raise the curtain a little and tell you what is hidden under the mystical blue label and how to read between the lines the hidden symbols dressed in a bottle of brandy “ARCANA” * * from Latin and Old Bulgarian – secret, magic Technology from “time it” Arcana is brandy of real grapes from our vineyard. Our vineyards are located on the low, hilly slopes of Sredna Gora, in the region of the village of Lesichovo, between 250-350 m above sea level, whose exposure determines the uniform sunlight.

The Topolnitsa River crosses the village in its lower course and is a leading factor for the mild microclimate, contributing to the full and timely ripening of the bunches. The brandy is without additives, without aromas, without sugar. The variety is Muscat Otonel 100%, and the grapes are grown according to the principles of organic farming. The vineyards are grown entirely with the idea of ​​producing fruit with suitable properties for the production of brandy. The achievement of the optimal balance between the accumulation of sugars (which are responsible for alcohol) and the retention of acids (which are responsible for aromas) in high limits is monitored. The fermentation of half of the material takes place together with the skins (the grapes are just crumbled) and the resulting wine is distilled together with the marc and nothing else – technology from “time it”.

The pots are made of copper, the heating is done through an oil jacket, which guarantees consistency of the temperature regime. And here the new technology intervenes in the collection of distillate – thanks to the columns with 4 plates, which ensure its purity and selection of individual fractions depending on the flavors they contain. The aroma of muscat is very light and sensitive, so in the blend of ARCANA participate only 2/3 of it, aged in Bulgarian oak barrels, and only for 6 months. The goal is for the aromas of the oak wood to help, not to dominate the delicate floral muscat notes. Describe Arkana brandy in a few words! I think it is different from other Muscat brandies.

It is very delicate and ethereal, and at the same time multi-layered in aroma and taste. It brings the feeling of the grapes themselves. There are very light golden shades in the color, as a result of the short aging of some of the distillate in oak barrels. The aroma is intense and distinctive for Muscat brandies. There are typical notes of rose, but here in the spectrum are pleasant lokum aromas, which quickly turn into surprisingly smoky shades of sandalwood and sweet spices – cardamom, cloves and brown sugar. The taste begins with a soft and gentle attack, which brings a gentle feeling of white flowers, gul leaves, followed by soft hints of bergamot, dried apricot and bark.

The aftertaste is long, multi-layered and leaves a reminder of a pleasant honey note on the palate. Arkana Brandy and the Philosophy of Taste The basis of this philosophy is based on the intertwining and gathering of the Four Elements – the Earth that bears fruit, Water – a symbol of life, Fire – which we control in the distillation process and Air – a symbol of ethereality, lightness and the tenderness of the aromas. If you remember the “sacred” number 42 of the Galactic Hitchhiker *, it’s here again (laughs). Arcana-brandy is 42 degrees. It is at this alcoholic degree that the aromatic balance of our brandy unfolds best. It is an interesting fact that this is the geographical parallel on which the village of Lesichovo is located, where the vineyards are located.

The creators of ARCANA have discovered the secret of how to create magic and capture the spirit and character of the grapes in a bottle. My logical question for the finale is whether the brandy has the potential for aging and possible collector’s value. According to Mariana, it is definitely worth setting aside a few bottles of ARCANA and complementing your collection with her next creations. I will definitely add a bottle to my collection, and I will follow the news from the cellar with interest. Arcana is for connoisseurs, for those who like traditions and standards, but also for those who are looking for something new and different, a pure product in a 700ml bottle – for sharing in a company.

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