The five days spent in Romania (04th-08th Nov), as part of the international judging panel at the Premille de Excellenta Wine Awards/Competition 2014, was a good occasion to get familiar with the Romanian wines although I have had my fair share of them tasted on several occasions. However, nothing is more beneficial to one’s wine experience than tasting wines in the country of their origin, surrounded by other local wine tasters who contribute with their knowledge so you could get familiar with the local wine grape varieties, the wine industry and the wineries.
The charming town of Brasov, just 170 km north of Bucharest, was hosting the Wine Excellence Awards 2014 (Premille de Excellenta), and the competition, now in its third year, had been organized by the wine magazine Vinul.ro. The judging was according to the OIV standards, using the 100 points scale and the wines we tasted were divided in three categories: HoReCa, Unbottled and Retails wines, as well as according to the price range and styles. The flights included imported wines along with the Romanian ones.
The organizers of the competition were smart enough to do a very interesting off-the-competition private blind wine tasting only for the international judges by combining well known worldwide labels and Romanian wines thus asking for our frank opinion while also seeking to position the domestic wines in the array of international labels. The wine tasting evolved into a lengthy discussion- I’m led to believe a very fruitful for both the judges, as well as the organisers .
On the last day of the competition, in the Brasov Business Park, the Transylvania Wine Fair 2014 was opened which hosted many wineries from the country and was a great occasion to discuss with the producers themselves some of the wines we’ve tasted during the three day competition in Brasov. The Romanian wines, as well as many of the wines coming from Southeast Europe, have an enormous potential but connecting that fact with a consistent wine making and the search for marketing options of selling the wines, is an ongoing challenge. However, the vast array of indigenous grape varieties, Feteasca Regala, Feteasca Alba, Feteasca Neagra, Tamaiosa Romaeasca, Busuioaca de Bohotin, to name just a few, are under the spotlight on the developing Romanian wine scene.
I would have to apologize in advance to all the wineries I did not have a chance to taste their wines & give my opinion in the following lines, but hopefully in another occasion I would gladly do so.
I was pleasantly surprised to note a consistence in quality in the wines of Budureasca Winery, Muntenia Wine Region, from Dealu Mare, settled in the sub-Carpathian hills, especially their Origini Line out of which I would mention the exceptional Reserve- Cuvee, DOC-CMD Dealu Mare (Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Feteasca Neagra) and the exceptional Budureasca Premium Line and their quite serious Rose (Syrah) 2013, DOC-CT Dealu Mare and their Fume 2013, DOC-CT Dealu Mare, a blend of Pinot Grigio, Riesling & Sauvignon Blanc.
It was a pleasure to go through the wines of Casa de Vinuri Cotnari Winery, and hear the story of their dedication to making wines from indigenous Romanian grape varieties. I’ve let my senses be fully emerged in the Feteasca Alba 2013, DOC- CT Cotnari, Moldova Wine Region from their Cotnari Domenii Line, which showed an aromatic nose of pears, an oily & full-bodied structure, complex taste of yellow tropical fruits like pineapple and mango & a lingering aftertaste. The Colocviu Line, and their Colocviu La Moscova 2013, Grasa de Cotnari DOC-CT Cotnari showed floral notes on the nose, followed by an amazing combination of pears, stoney fruits & saltiness in the taste. Not to forget my favourite rose for this year, Colocviu la Paris 2013, DOC-CT Cotnari, made from Busuioaca de Bohotin variety.
Crama Oprisor Winery is one of the most serious players on the wine market. The wines made by their oenologist Liviu Grigorica show boldness in styles and firmness in structure. Their Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 and a true wine gem, Ispita 2011 gave away that recognizable strain of seek for perfection, lively playfulness which can easily be traced in Liviu’s wines- a trait of an experienced winemaker.
One of the most pleasant surprises were the wines from Villa Vinea Winery located in the Transylvania Wine Region- their Feteasca Regala 2013 and a very fresh and serious Sauvignon Blanc 2013 with an exceptional minerality.
I would also like to mention a very unique Apogeum Feteasca Neagra 2011 (a Limited Edition) from Domeniilor Tohani Winery, Muntenia Wine Region, DOC Dealu Mare- the nose showed dark plums, the taste followed in a elegant liquorice, chocolate, dark fruits clash.
Liliac Winery, Liliac, Nectar of Transylvania, Muscat Ottonel 2013- from theTransilvania Wine Region, AOC Lechinţa was a cherry on the top- quince& ripe pears on the nose, nail polish notes reminding of a New Zealand sweet wines.
An impromty #winelover hangout happened after the grand finale tasting day, organized by my very dear Romanian friends Iulian Grigorescu & Razvan Stoenescu where all the judges enjoyed an array of wines. We started from Italy, Switzerland, France, than moved to Macedonia, Croatia only to go back to Romanian wines- a wine tasting which was followed by another lengthy enjoyable wine discussion.