Following the advice of a friend, we went to Wavre (a small town close to Brussels) last Saturday to a tasting of Romanian wines. The tasting was organized by Transylvania, a company I understand imports Romanian wines to Belgium.
Besides the odd Romanian wine you can find in the supermarket, I had no idea there is such a wide choice of Romanian wines. Talking to the producers, we were told that Romania produces over 400 types of wines, of which over 200 are DOC, with the main wine producing regions being Cotnari, Bohotin, Dealul Mare, Jidvei and Murfatlar. Of interest was also that besides the known grapes, Romania is cultivating a special, regional grape, Feteasca white (alba) and black (neagra), which give the wine an individual taste.
A choice of over 50 different wines was available, divided into white wines, red wines, and sweet, liquor white wines. Starting with the white wines, we discovered a very nice Sauvignon Blanc, Feteasca alba 2003 from Istria, a Feteasca regala 2003 from Dragasani, and my favorite, a Riesling 2002, Cuveé Excellence from Vanju Mare. For the sheer novelty reason we also bought a Blanc de Transylvanie 2004, from Jidvei.
With red wines being my favorites, I was very pleased to discover a lot of wines, which I liked and will make sure to look for from now on. Particularly, there was a Feteasca neagra 2001, a Pinot Noire 2000, and a Terra Romana (a combination of Merlot, Cabernet and Feteasca neagra) all from Dealul Mare. The all time winners though were a Feteasca neagra Swallowtail 2001 (from Zoresti) – an incredibly deep red wine, with hints of black pepper and leather, smooth yet heavy and rich – and a Merlot, Prince Mircea 2001 (from Vanju Mare). These two are some of the best wines I have ever tasted and we couldn’t resist buying them.
Not known to the wide public, we found Romanian wines which compare to the New World wines, as well as wines which could compete with the best French ones. Definitely wines to keep in mind when looking for something different.