12/22/2015

Romanian Wine Promotion Association

Romanian Wines in the Eyes of a Master of Wine

Photos source: rovinhud.net

Romanian Wines in the Eyes of a Master of Wine If one asks a Romanian’s opinion on Romanian wines, he or she will say that they are one of the best. But if that isn’t a reliably enough source, just ask Jancis Robinson and her team. They will say the same.


On Jancis Robinson’s website, Romania is in top 10 best wine countries and this is what she had to say about the country on her last visit:


„Wine and Romania are virtually synonymous. The country has more land under vine than Australia, South Africa or Chile, according to OIV figures, more than any other eastern European country, considerably more than its eastern neighbour Moldavia and almost three times as much as the third most important wine producer of the old Soviet bloc Bulgaria. Whereas wine production elsewhere was very much in state hands under the Soviet regime, many Romanians continued, and continue, to grow a few vines and make a bit of wine for domestic consumption. Indeed, the domestic market is a rather confused mix of home-made and increasingly sophisticated branded products.”


MW Jancis Robinson her self visited Romanian wine fair, ROvinHud, last year and. But in 2015 it was MW Julia Harding’s turn. Julia is Jancis's full-time assistant and crucial to maintaining the high editorial standards of the site. See here for full details of her glorious career. As a top pass in the punishing Master of Wine exams (she took them in 2003 and passed first time with flying colours, and gained a distinction for her dissertation in 2004), she is particularly up to speed on oenological and viticultural matters and is also prepared to tackle the complexities of wine legislation head on. In 2009 she won a Special Award in the Louis Roederer International Wine Writers’ Awards, she was Portuguese Wine Writer of the Year in 2012 and is co-author, with José Vouillamoz and Jancis, of the multi award-winning Wine Grapes - a complete guide to 1,368 grape varieties including their origins and flavours. She is much in demand as a mentor for Master of Wine students.


Julia published the tasting notes on jancisrobinson.com of the Romanian wines that she tasted at the exhibition in Timisoara. From the 88 wines tasted, six of them got 17 points out of 20, which looks promising.


Julia writes: “This collection of tasting notes, like all the others listed in this guide, is a team effort, a gathering together of reviews from occasions many and various over the last few months. Observant readers will spot a large number of reviews of Romanian wines. These were almost all collected during the second ROvinHUd wine fair last month in Timișoara. For more on this excellent initiative, see Jancis's description of its maiden voyage in Benevolence in Transylvania. Some of my notes come from the main fair and its masterclasses, which were open to the public, some from visits to nearby producers. They range from the very small (Petro Vaselo) to the frankly enormous, the latter responsible for more than 50% of all Romanian exports. The wines are grouped by country where there were enough notes to warrant a separate group, and in descending score order within those groups. For the wines in the 'assorted' groups, you may need to click on the individual wine name to see the country of origin if the more specific region is not familiar to you.


ROMANIA WHITES AND ROSÉS


• Avincis Pinot Gris/Fetească Regală 2013 Drăgăşani


70% Pinot Gris young vines, 30% Fetească Regala old vines, the latter fermented and aged 10 months in French oak.


Impressive depth and firm texture, the oak discreet, giving a creamy quality to the aroma. Herbal, precise and an attractive sour freshness. (JH)


14%


Drink 2015-2018


16.5


• Avincis Crâmpoșie Selecționată 2014 Drăgăşani


Smells a little cedary, not very clean on the nose? Lemony, very dry, slightly sour. Cleaner on the palate and more citrusy, green fruits. (JH)


12%


Drink 2015-2016


15.5


• Balla Géza Mustoasă de Măderat 2014 Miniș


Productive high-acid variety making light, fresh whites. Cedary herbal nose, salty. Very crisp and clean, zesty, not bone dry? Good intensity and long. Attractive purity and precise, clean lines. (JH)


12.5%


Drink 2015-2016


16


• Balla Géza Fetească Regală 2015 Miniș


Tank sample. Still tastes a little of ferment (pear) but lightly aromatic – citrus and a touch of pepper. Juicy and great freshness without any phenolics. It has some sweetness - RS 5.4 g/l - because the ferment stopped before the end but the balance is nice. Creamy and gentle. (JH)


14.5%


Drink 2016-2017


15.5


• Balla Géza, Stone Wine Furmint 2013 Miniș


He is the only producer of Furmint in Romania, apparently, planted 10 years ago. Oaked. Planted at 500 m with very shallow soil, hence the name Stone Wine. Quite deep gold, ripe ctirus, even a touch of orange. A little bit harsh and oxidative. Lanolin, beeswax, honey. Has the variety’s hallmark acidity but not its finesse. Broad and big. (JH)


14.5%


Drink 2015-2017


15.5


• Balla Géza, Rosé 2015 Miniș 40% Fetească Neagră, 40% Merlot and 20% Kadarka.


Direct pressing. Deep pink. Packed with aromatic red fruit. Sweet red plum and strawberry. Tastes like children’s cough medicine with that very sweet fruit flavour. But it is dry and fresh. A bit like drinking alcoholic fruit juice but it finishes dry.


14.5%


Drink 2015-2016


15.5


• Corcova Roy & Damboviceanu Chardonnay 2013 Mehedinți


Barrel fermented. Creamy/oaky nose, balanced overall but without great fruit intensity in the middle. Creamy and gentle with a slight grip in the texture thanks to the oak. (JH)


12.5%


Drink 2015-2016


15.5


• Davino, Monogram Fetească Alba 2014 Dealu Mare


60% of the fruit is from 35-year-old vines. Smoky, intense and spicy. More complex and fiery central Europe than the Plai bottling. Intense and long. Lots of personality and plenty of aroma - cedar too. Savoury, saline finish and really fresh. (JH)


13.2%


Drink 2015-2019


17


• Davino, Plai Fetească Alba 2014 Dealu Mare


Peppery, herbal, aromatic, with a slight grip and bitterness and a cedary quality even though it is unoaked. Tight, crisp and on the powerful side. Overall a little bit harder than the Monogram Fetească Alba. (JH)


13%


Drink 2015-2017


16


• Davino, Revelatio Sauvignon Blanc/Fetească Alba 2012 Dealu Mare


Barrel fermented. Oily and mineral on the nose and quite evolved. Mid gold with just sufficient refreshment factor. Some notes of lime and bay leaf. A bit heavy as an aperitif but holds its own reasonably well with a mozzarella salad. Bold with a hint of sour honey on the palate. Distinctive but lacks refinement and looking a little tired. (JH)


13.9%


Drink 2014-2016


16


• Lacerta Fetească Alba 2014 Dealu Mare


Sour fruits – quince and cedar. Bone dry. Savoury and a little smoky. Sour quince on the finish. Clean and zesty but not sure it is playing to the variety’s strengths? Maybe more food friendly? A bit tart. A bit Chablis like. (JH)


13.5%


Drink 2015-2017


16


• Liliac Fetească Alba 2014 Lechința


Gently grapey floral nose. Salty citrus. Dry but with sweetness of fruit and beautifully crisp but not simple, with a salty aftertaste that opens up the palate. Great combo of aromatic and appetite-whetting. Cooler northern region of origin showing through. (JH)


13%


Drink 2015-2017


16.5


• Liliac Fetească Regală 2013 Lechința Spice and a light note of lees / oak on the nose. Woody/salty palate. Lots of energy and the oak carefully done. Powerful with quince freshness but the acidity well balanced. (JH)


13%


Drink 2015-2017


16.5


• Liliac Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Lechința


Owned by a wealthy Austrian. Vines all about 5 years old. Slightly smoky, sweaty, intense and full-fruited on the nose. Smoky on the palate, more ripe citrus than grassy, though more classic Sauvignon Blanc flavours emerge on the finish. Ripe fruited but dry. (JH)


14%


Drink 2015-2016


16.5


• Liliac Fetească Regală 2014 Lechința


Lightly floral and herbal on the nose. Bone dry, relatively full bodied and without the variety’s potential phenolic character. Full but fresh, lemony mid-palate depth. Slightly smoky (reductive?). Sour/salty fresh finish. (JH)


13%


Drink 2015-2017


16.5


• Liliac, Private Selection Orange Chardonnay 2014 Lechința


Six weeks on skins and total eight months in barrel. Transylvanian oak. Deiberately cloudy. Complex nose of citrus, apricot and dried grasses. Very gently tannic and a little smoky. More promise on the nose than is delivered on the palate. Very dry, slightly sour, pear-grained texture. Quite long. (JH)


13%


Drink 2015-2018


16


• Crama Oprişor, Rusalcă Albă 2014 IG Dealurile Olteniei


Rusalcă was apparently a 'malefic mermaid ... predatory female fish who, turned into a woman and wandering about woods, used to seduce young men and drown them in the river or in the lake'. A blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Italian Riesling and Pinot Gris. Has the same slight woody note of the Cetate Sauvignon, although there is no oak used in the winemaking. Crisp, herbal, a bit dilute. (JH)


13%


Drink 2015-2017


15.5


• Crama Oprişor, Drăgaică Roșie 2013 IG Dealurile Olteniei Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Shiraz.


12 months in barrique. Smells of tiny sweet red cherries. Lively, fresh and with a firm texture. Juicy and sweet fruited. Easy to drink but more serious than some. (JH)


14%


Drink 2015-2017


15.5


• Crama Oprişor, La Cetate Sauvignon Blanc 2014 IG Dealurile Olteniei


Three months in barrique. Grassy, herbal, fresh, just a little bit woody (not oaky), especially on the finish. A bit dilute but clean and fresh and the delicately creamy texture shows the time in oak. (JH)


13.5%


Drink 2015-2016


15


• Petro Vaselo, Kotys Blanc de Noirs 2012 Recaş 85% Pinot Noir and 15% Chardonnay.


Zero dosage. 24 months on lees. ‘My dream', says Italian winemaker Marco Feltrin, 'is that people will start to drink wine like this – cloudy’. 700 bottles, champagne method. Sold with lees, ie not disgorged, under crown cap, so has to be hand disgorged by the drinker (can be messy). Labels upside down. No oak until 2013 vintage. No malo. Very slightly cloudy. Pale straw. Deep citrus aroma and some dried wild grasses. Very dry and winey, not particularly autolytic (toasty/yeasty), dry and textured, with a very slight grip. Long, zesty. (JH)


12%


Drink 2015-2018


17


• Petro Vaselo, Bendis Nadir Blanc de Noirs 2014 Recaş 100% Pinot Noir.


60 days on lees. Dosage 11 g/l, pH 3.2. Bendis was the Thracian goddess of the moon. Very pale pink. Fresh and fragrant. Lively and subtle - more blossom than fruit but subtly so. Very fresh, crisp and juicy. Bad year for reds but good for fizz. Italian winemaker Marco Feltrin is very proud of this year’s fizz – best till now. Refined and good length. (JH)


12%


Drink 2015-2016


16.5


• Petro Vaselo, Bendis Rosé 2014 Recaş


18 hours' skin contact. 60 days on lees post ferment. 10.5 g/l dosage. Pretty pale orangey pink. Lovely fresh aroma, Victoria plums (the pale-skinned ones used to make jam) but still lightly floral and fragrant. Fine mousse. Little bit of orange flavour. Refined and good length. Light bitterness adds freshness. (JH)


12%


Drink 2015-2016


16.5


• Petro Vaselo, Alb 2014 Recaş Chardonnay on limestone.


Their entry-level white. Fermented in tank, 6 months on lees. TA 6 g/l. Very pale gold. Aromatic, delicate and a little cedary but has citrus freshness too (no oak). Quite gentle on the palate, generous and well balanced if not terribly long. Dry but softly textured. Nice in the mouth but shortish. Actually quite fresh on the finish. Sells out before the next vintage, apparently. This would be around €10 retail in Romania. (JH)


13%


Drink 2015-2017


15.5


• SERVE, Cuvée Amaury 2012 Dealu Mare


Blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay and Fetească Alba, partly barrel fermented.Greeny gold with a strong woody/cedar aroma and marked wood character on the palate. Creamy texture, hint of resin and that aged-Riesling character that is somw here between resin and kerosene. Complex, full bodied, the oak showing but not dominating. Long.


14%


Drink 2014-2018


16.5


• SERVE, Terra Romana 2014 Dealu Mare


A blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay. Complex aroma that is both cedary and more typically Sauvignon Blanc capsicum, with some smoky reduction. Tight and grassy on the palate. Very dry with a slight grain in the texture. Attractive balance of structure and aroma and fresh to the finish. (JH)


13%


Drink 2015-2017


16


• SERVE, Terra Romana Fetească Alba 2014 IG Dealurile Munteniei Not as immediately aromatic as the Liliac Fetească Alba. Has a creamy leesy note. Touch of ‘old wood’. A bit sour on the palate. Oak seems a bit heavy-handed for the variety. (JH)


13.5%


Drink 2015-2016


15.5


ROMANIA REDS


• Avincis, Cuvée Andrei Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 Drăgăşani


40% of the wine spent 14 months in Romanian oak. Inky colour but showing some development at the rim. Savoury and dry but with plenty of classic cassis fruit. Perhaps a little austere but refined too. (JH)


13.5%


Drink 2016-2020


16


• Avincis Negru de Drăgăşani 2012 Drăgăşani


Their first vintage of this still-rare variety - a dry year. Apparently, you get relatively high alcohol with this variety. I think the bottle tasted in the local varieties tasting may not have been in great condition because when I tasted this later, at the producer's stand, it was much cleaner and not as hard on the palate, though it still lacked juice. The Știrbey example was more attractive and gave a better idea of what this variety is like. (JH)


15%


Drink 2016-2020


15


• Balla Géza, Stone Wine Fetească Neagră 2011 Miniș


Very dark and spicy. A little leafy and herbal. Juicy and leafy but very fresh and mouth-watering. Lovely dry fine tannins. Elegant with a graphite quality and with plenty of fruit. (JH)


14.5%


Drink 2015-2019


17


• Corcova Roy & Damboviceanu, Cuvée Racoveanu 2011 Mehedinți


The first owner of the company brought French varieties to the vineyard. This is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot, fermented with ambient yeast. One year in oak. Dark fruited and spicy, with a savoury quality. Firm, dry and elegant. Lots of dark fruit to fill out the fine-boned tannins. Starting to drink well now. (JH)


14.8%


Drink 2015-2020


16


• Corcova Roy & Damboviceanu Fetească Neagră 2014 Mehedinți


This was a difficult year - very rainy and problems with rot thanks to the variety's thin skins - so they blended in 10% of barrel-aged wine from the 2013 vintage to beef it up a bit. Deep crimson. Peppery and fresh. Lively, dry but still juicy. Fine tannins. (JH)


12.5%


Drink 2015-2017


15.5


• Corcova Roy & Damboviceanu Fetească Neagră 2013 Mehedinți


Deep and dark, with rich bramble fruit on the nose. A bit hard on the palate, as if a little over-extracted. And slightly bitter on the finish and doesn’t seem to be softening with time. (JH)


14.5%


Drink 2015-2018


15


• Davino, Plai Fetească Neagră 2011 Dealu Mare


Apparently, after 2009, 2011 was the best vintage in the last ten years. 3 months in 2nd-use oak. Inky with a hint of brown at the rim. Complex dried-fruit aroma without raisining. Savoury, smoky like charred roasted vegetables. Rich and long with balsamic notes too. Tannins are dense and just a little grainy. (JH)


14.9%


Drink 2014-2020


17


• Davino, Monogram Fetească Neagră 2013 Dealu Mare


2013 was a cooler year. 12 months in new Romanian oak. Smoky but with fresher fruit than the Plai 2011. Lots of dark fruit as well as sweet cherry, supple and savoury. Peppery spice on the long finish. (JH)


13%


Drink 2015-2020


17


• Davino, Monogram Fetească Neagră 2014 Dealu Mare


Fragrant, sweet fruited. Has that lovely savoury charry flavour without being overly oaky. Powerful and long but not really approachable now – or needs a hunk of protein. (JH)


13%


Drink 2016-2020


16.5


• Liliac, Private Selection Pinot Noir 2013 Lechința


Eight months in Transylvanian oak. Greyish crimson. Sweet cherry aroma. Slightly stalky. A little bit hard, hence the minus, but lots of sweet fresh fruit flavour and a touch of spice. Not bad length. (JH)


14.5%


Drink 2015-2018


16


• Crama Oprişor, La Cetate Fetească Neagră 2013 IG Dealurile Olteniei


Spicy and a little floral and wild herbs. Gentle and fresh and seems to show the fruit/spice/herbal character of the variety with firm but not aggressive tannins. Food friendly, I suspect. (JH)


14.5%


Drink 2015-2019


16


• Crama Oprişor, La Cetate Fetească Neagră 2013 IG Dealurile Olteniei


Twelve months in barrique. Woody, herbal, lightly smoky dark fruit, with quite a grip on the finish. (JH)


14.5%


Drink 2015-2017


15


• Petro Vaselo, Ovaș 2011 Recaş


Kober 5BB rootstocks. Red soils - terra rossa. 60% green harvest – one in June and one in July. 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot. Vines planted 2005. 2.5 years in barrel, 80% new. Deep crimson. Fresh, bright spicy cassis. Cedary on the palate, velvety and dry and elegant. The oak is there but finely balanced. Elegant and the oak is in the background. (JH)


14.5%


Drink 2015-2018


17


• Petro Vaselo, Melgis Fetească Neagră 2012 Recaş


Fermented in oak vats with ambient yeasts. The ferment was difficult and took almost a month. 60% new oak, 40% 2-year-old tonneaux. The variety can have spicy aromas and he wanted to keep those. 18 months in barrel. Rented vineyard, 11 years old. Deep crimson. Cool, cedary nose. Peppery, dark-red fruit. Dry and silky and refined. Very elegant. Pinot approach to this variety. Juicy with fine tannins. Light-handed but elegant and long. (JH)


14%


Drink 2015-2018


16.5


• Petro Vaselo, Otarnița 2012 Recaş


Mid range. Serbian name for the terroir of the vineyard. Bunches are trimmed to open the bunches. Fermented in oak vats over 25 days, 1 year and 4 months in barrel. Two- and 3-year-old oak. Greyish crimson. Fresh, very gentle tannins, a slight bitterness on the finish, hence the minus. Ripe but not overripe, fresh, sweet-fruited, red cherry, a touch spicy. Gentle, persistent finish. Silky texture. (JH)


14%


Drink 2015-2017


16


• SERVE, Guy de Poix Fetească Neagră 2012 Dealu Mare


12 months in oak. I was told that this was the variety that persuaded the French founder of SERVE, M Guy de Poix, to stay in Romania in the early 90s. Very deeply coloured. Sweet and oaky on the nose, smells ripe and spicy, with some dried-fruit notes. Deep and chewy but overall a bit hard and overly oaky, as if the oak and tannins have combined to form a tough core. Maybe this will develop and soften but not showing much sign of doing so so far. (JH)


15.5%


Drink 2015-2020


16


• Vitis Metamorfosis, Ville Marchizului Negru de Drăgăşani 2013 Dealu Mare


Top-scoring Romanian wine at the Decanter World Wine Awards 2015. Antinori investment. Very rare variety – just 13 ha in Romania. A Negru Vîrtos x ?? cross (the second parent may be Băbească Neagră). Vines planted 2005. Deep black cherry colour. Very fine juicy dark fruit, black cherry, a little bit of sweet blueberry and cassis, lightly herbal and really tangy. Dark, savoury and finely textured. Has the freshness but not the leafiness of Cabernet Franc. (JH)


14.5%


Drink 2015-2018


16.5


• Vitis Metamorfosis, Cantus Primus Fetească Neagră 2012 Dealu Mare


80% aged 14 months in 500-litre new oak. Inky elderberry colour. Bags of oak sweetness and spice on the nose. Big and rich and oaky, perhaps a bit sweet/sour on the palate. Trying a bit too hard? Rather too oaky for my taste but good raw material. There's peppery and fragrant dark fruit trying to escape. (JH)


14%


Drink 2016-2020


16+


• Vitis Metamorfosis, Cantus Primus Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Dealu Mare


Their first vintage and the wines were made at Halewood. A touch leafy/herbal, plus some liquorice. More herbal on the palate. Perhaps just a little bit harsh or over-enthusiastically extracted. Big, long and powerful but slightly bitter at the very end. (JH)


14%


Drink 2014-2020


16 “


There is no doubt that Romanian wines will keep evolving every year, with every wine sip we take. But don’t believe us when we are telling you they are good, try them for yourself.


 


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