Meeting the Man behind Enira wines
I am an optimist. I believe that any apparent misfortune hides an opportunity or something that will be revealed to us at a later date even if for the moment the situation may appear bleak.
I am very sorry for all the people that got stuck in airports around the world, not knowing when they will return to their homes and see their loved ones and I do hope that things are coming back to normal as soon as possible. One of this people that suffered from the traffic jam was also the winemaker from Enira, Marc Dworkin.
I had some conversations with Marc via email and social networks but never had the chance to meet him in person. So TUE, on the 20th of April, as Marc got stuck initially in Timisoara for 3 days and returned to Bucharest by car, we finally managed to arrange a meeting for lunch. We met in a nice restaurant in the Dorobanti area and I had the chance to find out very interesting things about Enira wines, the people in the wine business, how small this world is and also a little bit about Marc Dworkin, the person.
First of all, it is important to know that Marc was mentored by Mr Michel Rolland, in my opinion, the most famous flying winemaker ever. They started to work together in 1989 and their collaboration lasted until 2003 when Marc started on his own. He is speaking with respect about his mentor and friend. I believe, even it wasn’t discussed at the table, that there is a competition in Bulgaria where the student is looking to surpass the mentor, as Mr Rolland is also consulting for a vineyard there. What surprised me was how Bulgaria has two world known and famous winemakers producing International wines and in Romania the awards for the best wines still go to sweet wines, as if we are caught in a Catch 22 story. There is also a funny story about the first arrival of Mr Rolland in Bulgaria. It seems that as soon as he landed at the airport for the very first time, even before he got the chance to pick up his baggage, he had an envelope waiting for him with a business proposal to consult for a Bulgarian vineyard. It seems that it was one of those offers you cannot refuse as he is now consulting for the vineyard there.
Marc spoke about his work at Enira and also about other ventures he consults for. At Enira the 2006 wines are already showing a great potential for what Bessa Valley can offer: both Enira and Enira Reserva 2006 are good wines. Because the vines are very young, in 2006 they produced wines with a very high level of alcohol.Initially over 15.3%, they lowered the alcohol levels so the wines can remain balanced. The wines still have 14.5% and 14.7% alc for Enira and Enira Reserva but this is very nicely balanced. In 2007 as the vines managed to go deeper into the soil they didn’t have the high alcohol problem anymore, the wines achieving 14.3-14.5% alcohol levels naturally. The Reserva 2007 is still kept in concrete vats after spending 15 months in 30% new oak and should be bottled in June. I asked Marc which vintage he considers to be the best produced so far at Enira and he replied that 2009 and especially the Syrah 2009 that has “an amazing color and concentration”. He is very confident about the new venture started in Romania at Aliman and considers that as long as you have a strict discipline in the vineyard, technology (using a server based system that enables him to monitor the temperature and density from the tanks via Internet; he is looking to install this system for all their wineries) and the terroir is good, you have the recipe for successful International wines. We, the consumers, can only wait and hope he is right.
Marc is currently involved in a project in China. Great River Hill winery has been established with Laixi city with initial plantings of 16 hectares of Cabernet Sauvignon last spring and will be supplemented by a further 84 ha of other varieties while a winery is built. The main partner is Dr Karl-Heinz Hauptmann, co-owner of Bessa Valley in Bulgaria with Stephan von Niepperg of Chateau Canon la Gaffelière in St-Émilion, with practical expertise from Marc. Marc has also a participation in this joint venture. The first wines are expected in 2012. Marc is extremely bullish on the Chinese market as he confessed that this will assure his retirement. This should give us an idea about the potential of this new market.
During our lunch conversation he told me a little bit about his family and how he balances his private life. He travels over 200 days per year. His wife is working for Domaine Clarence Dillon and she is also a winemaker, blending some of the mid-priced wine Bordeaux brand Clarendelle, something similar to Mouton Cadet. Domaine Clarence Dillon owns Chateau Haut Brion and Chateau La Mission Haut Brion.
We tasted together two wines: Enira 2006 and Planeta Syrah 2005. I found Enira to be a better and more complex wine.
I am very glad I had the chance to meet Marc. I am sure we will meet again with other occasions as he confessed he likes to participate at tastings together with people from local media and wine lovers.
Marc left me explaining that he already missed four days of vacation with his family and after the 8th of May he will be traveling between Europe and China. I guess being an International winemaker is not only milk and honey.