10+1 Excellent Romanian Wines- #winelover recommendations of 2019 (still valid in 2020)
The most frequent question I get, especially from non-connaisseur friends is “What is the best wine?”. My answer to that is that it is similar to asking who is the most beautiful woman … it depends on who you ask.
I hate rankings, points, but I love to recommend good wines. So, here are the wines that I’ve sent as recommendations last year for the special edition of # winelovers’ Guide Into Romanian Treasures, published by vinul.ro, the most comprehensive wine journal in Romania. The list includes only Romanian wines that I would be proud to offer as a gift or serve for a special occasion.
Mustoasă of Măderat 2018- MaxiMarc Winery
Mustoasă de Măderat, white, dry, 11.5%, Miniș-Măderat
Mustoasa is a fairly rustic variety, and this wine is no different, it takes the taster on a mental trip to the countryside on a warm summer’s day. The color is straw-yellow, and the smell remains in the dry hay range, with a little bit of shaved lemon peel flavor on top. The taste is juicy, but with some weight, reminiscent of ripe green apples. The characteristic acidity of the grape, also used as a base for sparkling wine, recommends Mustoasă de Măderat next to fattier dishes, such as peasant’s cheese pies. Probably the closest modern wine to what the locals would have drunk a few hundred years ago.
Sarbă, Plăvaie, white, dry, 12,5%, DOC Cotești (Vrancea)
The Vrancea area is known for earthquakes and drinkable wines from native white grape varieties. The Gîrboiu Winery takes pride in its local heritage on both coordinates. They offer affordable wines such as this unique blend in Romania, created from two indigenous grapes. The wine is young, has an almost translucent color and greenish edges. The nose is citrusy, reminiscent of freshly squeezed lemons. The taste continues the olfactory notes but comes with the surprise of a medium-plus body that you could not guess at first, without making wine heavy. It leaves the mouthwatering sensations of apricots, apples, and ends in a long note of almond flakes. My favorite food pairing is with Valdostana.
Neuburger, white, dry, 12,5%, DOC Lechința (Transylvania)
Starting this year, LILIAC winery is proud to launch wines from the Neuburger variety. These are grapes from an old variety of noble vines that have their origins in Austria. On the Romanian market, LILIAC remains among the few producers that still grow this variety. This wine with rustic hints brings an explosion of ripe fruits: red apples, bergamot pears, apricots, a slight pumpkin taste, all supported by excellent acidity and a creamy structure, given by the time spent on fine lees. With superb minerality characteristic of the area, it is a delicious wine, to be tasted with cheese langos (Hungarian pastry).
Pink Traminer, white, sweet, 14%, DOC Târnave (Transylvania)
A wine which can be considered an authentic gemstone, crafted with painstaking effort only in certain years (usually no more than 12 a century) when nature meets certain climatic conditions that ensure the optimum concentration of sugars and an explosion of flavors. When it is poured into the glass, it has an amber color, with golden sparkles. At a slight spin, it spreads intense aromas of roses, ripe currants, and honey. These are also present in the taste, accompanied by delicious notes of melon, pineapple, and mango. The final sensation is particularly long, with an intense aftertaste of almonds and candied yellow fruits. The high acidity elegantly counterbalances the sweetness. This wine can be stored for another 5-7 years, which we recommend you also do with the 2018 edition. Perfect next to crème brûlée.
Marama Tămâioasă Roză 2018- Domeniul Coroanei Segarcea
Pink Tămâioasă, dry,rosé, 12,8%, DOC Segarcea (Oltenia)
The flagship and unique variety of the Domeniului Coroanei is vinified this time as dry, a bold move for a wine that has become known as medium-sweet. The surprise is that the smell preserves the entire aromatic sphere of pink flowers: peony, English roses, and the taste brings citric complexity (grapefruit), but also notes of apricots, and red berries. A particular rosé, strongly aromatic and with a medium body. The fresh character recommends it to be consumed as young as possible.
Fetească neagră, Cabernet Sauvignon, rosé, dry, 13,5%, Oltina (Dobrogea)
An elegant rosé, Provence style, starting with the pink-salmon powdered color. Discreet, when it is well cooled, it offers some citrus notes of red grapefruit, but after a few turns in the glass, it begins to open up with hits of raspberries, nectarines, cherries, and some exotic fruits. The taste confirms all these olfactory promises through an elegant structure given by the well-integrated alcohol, lively acidity and floral aftertaste, reminiscent of roses. An excellent companion for cantaloupe with ham or spicy shrimp.
Negru de Drăgășani, red, dry, 13%, Drăgășani (Oltenia)
Inspired by the international trend of fresh red wines, unoaked, with this edition, one of the symbols of the Știrbey winery takes on a new approach. It is not a Romanian Beaujolais, but it is perhaps the first time we can enjoy this grape variety in its purest form. Even though the name suggests a darker color, in the glass, the wine is medium ruby, with purple edges. It has a delightful smell of fresh cherries and dark cherries. All these are to be also found in the taste that is lively, refreshing, with well-integrated alcohol. The fans of the older vintages could be slightly dissatisfied with this wine which respects the spirit of the place, where until recently, the signature wine was the “zaibar”, a light red.
Fetească neagră, red, dry, 14,9%, Dealul Niculițel (Dobrogea)
An excellent example of how Feteasca Neagră can reach its full potential, helped by the warm climate of Dobrogea. The color is intense ruby, with purple edges, showing that we are dealing with a wine which is still very young. The aromas that it spreads after being decanted for at least 30 minutes include, besides the defining note of dried plums, some spices (black pepper, cloves) and juicy black fruits. These are fully present in the taste, which is abundant in bitter cherries. The refinement of this drink is given by the secondary notes, including dark chocolate and tobacco wooden box. The alcohol is strong but perfectly integrated with the still very young tannins. A wine to keep for the next decade.
Fetească neagră, red, dry, 14,5%, DOC Dealu Mare (Muntenia)
An intense purple hue announces a wine that still has many years ahead to show itself to wine lovers in all its splendor at maturity. Today we find a glass full of black fruits – cherries, blackberries and of course, plums. The distinctive note is given by the slightly peppery nose, a sensation that is not found in the taste, which is particularly soft and velvety, with well-educated, round tannins, from the time it spent in oak barrels. It’s more like an investment recommendation for years to come. Then it can be one of those wines that honor dishes based on rare or exotic meats.
Fetească regală, white, sparkling, brut nature, 11,5%, Șimleul Silvaniei (Crișana)
A sparkling wine with tradition (1820), obtained by the Champenoise method, with maturation on lees for 30 months, which recommends it as a product made with care and dedicated to a demanding audience. The color in the glass is golden, with fine bubbles. Its smell is very tempting, as a combination of citric aromas and the smell of freshly baked bread. The taste is juicy, slightly aromatic, reminiscent of peaches and quince. Excellent acidity, specific to the variety and terroir, low alcohol and aftertaste of toast. Creamy, intense texture, suitable for combination with foie gras, caviar or shellfish.
Băbească neagră, rosé sparkling, 12%, DOC Sarica Niculițel (Dobrogea)
The most hipsterish wine in the Romanian market. With attributes such as bio, unfiltered, sparkling, a label which looks hand-made, this rosé made from a rather obscure variety, is the perfect argument to spark curiosity in those people who think the wine world is for snobs. It’s a summer wine that deserves to be chilled for a few hours to be consumed in minutes. It smells of fresh strawberries, has a raspberry taste and a pleasant softness, even if the bubbles are not the smallest. The perfect wine for picnics or less pretentious meals, along with with street-food dishes, a fact suggested by the beer-style cap.
Behind the keyboard...
Silvia Palasca- web dev by day, wine storyteller by night (or the other way around)
Hello, I'm Silvia, wine and travel enthusiast. Looking to turn my passions into a lifestyle. As I writer and web designer I thrive on great sips and epic scenery. WSET Level 2 graduate, I love writing, talking and analyzing wine. If you have a project in mind, let's talk!
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