Reviews & Opinion

Julia Harding MW on Romanian Wine – Tasting Notes and Ratings

Wine cellar in a Romanian peasant fortress

© Gabriela Însurățelu – Wine cellar in a Romanian peasant fortress

The article Romanian Wines in the Eyes of a Master of Wine published on ProWein website in 2015 exposes Julia Harding MW’s opinions on no less than 45 Romanian wines. The article has been written by The Romanian Wine Promotion Association.

This is a very useful online resource, knowing that wine reviews and ratings on JancisRobinson.com – the UK-based website for which Julia Harding MW works (“Our team”, 2017) – usually reside in the paid section. As we read, Julia Harding MW’s main source of information was her visit to ROVINHUD wine fair hosted in the Romanian city of Timișoara.

I have tried to read this article from multiple perspectives.

First of all, the text is cheerful and the authors invite the audience to taste Romanian wines themselves.

Also, they quote a statement that many of us believe but rarely express: “Wine and Romania are virtually synonymous” (Robinson, 2015).

We have reviews and ratings for the 45 Romanian wines and – very important – the drinking window of each wine. We learn that some wines that are popular among Romanian buffs, like Crama Oprişor Rusalcă Albă or Avincis Negru de Drăgăşani have obtained lower ratings. Do not worry however for Negru de Drăgăşani variety’s potential. We have a better score for Vitis Metamorfosis “Via Marchizului” Negru de Drăgăşani and a different source shows that Jancis Robinson.com team have evaluated higher at least one other bottling: Prince Știrbey Negru de Drăgăşani (“Tasting Notes: Prince Stirbey Negru de Dragasani, Dragasani, Romania”, 2017). As for Avincis winery, Pinot Gris/Fetească Regală has a surprisingly better rating. We learn for example that one of the best placed red wine brands on Romanian buffs’ list – including me – and one of the highest rated wines in the article, Petro Vaselo Ovaş 2011, is approaching its end of life, that is 2018. I recommend purchase and storage of some bottles and drinking during the remaining window, or saying goodbye to this wine for a while, as my preview of the 2012 vintage during a tasting event in Bucharest is not encouraging (quite jammy, it certainly lacks the elegance of its predecessor).

Looking deeper into the tasting notes, we can spot for instance the difference between Romanian white wines from cool climates and those from hotter regions, even if they are sometimes made of the same grape varieties. Of course, winemaking techniques are also different. It would be relevant to compare the tasting notes for the white wines of Liliac – from Lechinţa appellation in Transylvania – and Davino – from Dealu Mare appellation in Muntenia. Both Romanian wineries have obtained good to very good ratings. To make my point, I have chosen some words and phrases from the two groups:

  • For Liliac: appetite-whetting, freshness, bone dry, very dry, crisp but not simple
  • For Davino: complex (also appears for Liliac’s Orange Chardonnay), lots of personality, plenty of aroma, savoury […] finish and really fresh, on the powerful side, quite evolved, a bit heavy as an aperitif, bold

We notice also that Balla Géza performs with Stone Wine Fetească Neagră 2011, surprisingly for DOC Miniș, an appellation in which thrive grape varieties like Cadarcă, Furmint, Mustoasă de Măderat, Portugais bleu, Zweigelt or Burgund Mare (“Denumirea de origine controlata MINIS, judetul Arad”, n.d.), which sound exotic to Romanian consumers’ ears. Reading the tasting notes, we discover that this Fetească Neagră wine is, at the same time, “elegant” and “fresh and mouth-watering”. Also, remarkably enough, it is very dark in colour.

As well as the authors of the article invite readers to discover Romanian wine themselves, I conclude by paraphrasing their final statement: “But don’t believe me when I am telling you the article is very useful, read it for yourself.”

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