Archive for March, 2011

2001 Grans Muralles Torres and 2006 Davino Reserva Zamfirescu

March 29, 2011 3 comments

I had these 2 wines over the weekend with different home cooked beef based meals.

2001 Grans Muralles Torres Conca de Barbera

Produced from a selection of ancient Catalan varieties: Monastrell, Garnacha Tinta, Garro, Samso and Carinena from vineyards in Grans Muralles. Aged for 18 months in new Troncais oak casks. 14% alc

The color is deep dark ruby. The nose is developed with red fruit jams, minty cherry – dominating aroma, menthol, toast, dark chocolate, leather and dried figs. The taste is medium to full body, youthful, with flavors of stewed red fruits, espresso, hints of figs and chewy tannins. The finish is medium and dry, with eucalyptus and stewed red fruits in the aftertaste. A masculine wine that comes a bit too rustic. 89 points

2006 Davino Reserva Zamfirescu

A friend offered me this wine as a gift in October 2010. The wine is a Cabernet Sauvignon based blend with Merlot aged for 12 months in Romanian oak. 14.2% alc

The wine has a deep dark ruby red color. The nose is developed, with medium intensity, sweet, a bit oaky but nicely integrated, with aromas of licorice, red fruit and dark cherry liquor, ripe to over-ripe blueberry, really rich cocoa flavors, dark chocolate, plum and bit of heat. The wine is medium to full body, concentrated, with firm tannins that mellowed after a few hours in the decanter, with dark cherry liquor, a mix of stewed red and black fruits, a big eucalyptus flavor mixed with a thick layer of cocoa, dark chocolate and prunes. The finish is long with a huge cocoa-chocolaty aftertaste and drying tannins. A masculine wine characterized more by power than elegance, the firm tannins need considerable aging to soften. I would certainly like to try this wine in 4-5 years and see the development. 91 points

For me, this wine has more things in common with a Grenache based wine from the Southern Rhone than to a typical Bordeaux blend. It is a very interesting wine nevertheless. I am not sure this wine is still available for sale but the 2007 Rezerva sells for 250-268 RON(around 65 Eur) in wine shops in Bucharest. A bit too pricey if I may add.

Thanks for reading!

Categories: Romania, Spain

2004 Frans Malan Simonsig and 2006 Stirbey Novac

March 22, 2011 2 comments

After the busy weekend with plenty of good wine and food, my conscience was recommending at least a few days of penitence with light food and no wine. Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be. Visiting the local Mega Image supermarket shopping for the usual groceries and waiting in the queue to reach the cashier, I stumble upon some good friends, Cristina and Dan, a couple that moved recently in the neighborhood. I guess MON is a common day to shop for food and replace the depleted reserves after the weekend for everybody. We haven’t seen each other for some time so we shortly decided to have dinner together at their place. I offered to bring at least the wine, and they gladly accepted.

I went home and picked a South African wine that I bought in 2008 and stored in my cellar ever since. I never tried this wine before so I was very curious about it. I uncorked the bottle and took a sip just to make sure that I do not bring a corked wine to our dinner. Even from the first sip, I was really impressed by this wine.

2004 Simonsig Stellenbosch Frans Malan Cape blend South Africa

Blend of 65% Pinotage, 31% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Merlot aged in French and American oak. The wine won many prices as the several awarding labels from the front of the bottle show.

There is an opaque dark red purple color. The nose is well developed, intense, balanced with fresh ripe dark fruits: raspberry and mulberry, with smoke, cocoa, dark chocolate, licorice and a touch of spices building a sweet but interesting nose. The taste is full body, with good levels of concentration and glycerin, well balanced, with thick layers of dark fruits balanced by a good acidity, a touch of minerality-graphite, cocoa and mocha. There is intensity, multiple flavors, sweet ripe tannins and freshness in this wine. The finish is medium plus with mellow tannins that lift the fruity flavors and a beautiful dark chocolate-coffee bean bitterness in the aftertaste. Great balance of the 14.5% alcohol. 91 points

Our hosts liked the wine a lot. They also prepared a very good meal with Mediterranean dishes and the strong flavors of the wine matched the food well. The bottle finished pretty quickly – I guess this is the characteristic of any good wine- so Dan, our host, offered to open another bottle. It happened that he opened a bottle of 2006 Novac from Stirbey that I offered him as a gift a few months ago. This was another bottle that rested in my cellar for about 2-3 years as well.

The style of the Novac was on the lighter side, but it was really welcoming. This is an easy going wine especially after the concentrated South African blend. There was however a slight touch of cork taint in the Novac.

2006 Stirbey Novac

There is a clean ruby red color reminding of a more concentrated Pinot Noir. The nose is developed, with signs of maturity and showing very interesting aromas of ripe red cherry, red currant and warm earthy forest floor building a nice complexity. In the mouth the wine is medium body, with a great backbone of mellow tannins and good acidity, with soft aromas of red cherry, red currant, earthiness and tobacco. The finish is medium with a red cherry refreshing aftertaste. 85-86 points

I was taken by surprise by this wine and I can certainly say that the Novac has better drink-ability compared to the 1st wine, even though the aromas and flavors are not as intense. The bottom line is that the Novac came as a breath of fresh air. It is nevertheless a less commercial style and more of an Old world wine.

The night finished fairly late for a regular MON. I still contemplate if I should visit Mega Image again tonight or not for what I forgot to buy yesterday. You never know how the evening may change.

Thanks for reading!

Categories: Romania, South Africa

Gleanings from week 11

March 21, 2011 1 comment

spot the most profitable asset in this chart

Mr Alfred Binder organizes courses about wine and I was invited, last THU, at the session dedicated to France, to talk about the investment in wine as a guest speaker. You can read more about his courses here.

The people attending the course were receptive at the idea of wine as an investment and pertinent questions were raised. Using charts and comparisons between the performance of different assets including Dow Jones Industrial(DJI), Gold(an example of a passive investment in gold as an Exchange traded fund-ETF), Emerging markets index and Fine wine index(plotted by Liv-ex) for the 2000-2011 interval, one might have a big surprise to find out what were the best two performing sectors. Charts are easy to understand and they say the story better than a million words. Naturally, like any other asset, investment in Fine wine has its own risks, rules that need to be followed and cautiousness is mandatory. Exponential increase is the best thing that can happen to your investment, but assets cannot go up forever either. Unfortunately, I believe that in Romania this concept is still a bit too revolutionary and time will have to pass until it will be taken seriously.

Coming back to wine tasting and the pleasure it can give simply as a drink, I could say that I had some great moments this weekend with fantastic wine.

On SAT, with home made food I had a Chardonnay from Pouilly Fuisse accompanied by seared St Jacques, plenty of salads and spinach. A sweet Sauternes was opened to match the foie gras.

seared St Jacques

2007 Daniel Barraud Pouilly Fuisse En Buland Vielles Vignes

There is a deep gold color. The nose is clean, medium intense, with generous aromas of butter and vanilla sticks, yellow flowers, lemon peel and a sweet touch of stone fruits. In the mouth the wine is medium to full body, with a good roundness, a bit heavy on the palate, but with good concentration, and echoing flavors of the aromas from the nose. There is a touch of minerality that balances the low acidity. The finish is medium and a bit too oaky for me. 88 points

This Pouilly Fuisse went well with the St Jacques and I wanted to do a little experiment and see how it matches the foie gras. That wasn’t a bad combo either. However, both my wife and I liked more the sweet Sauternes with foie gras.

2006 Chateau Lafon Sauternes

I received this wine as a sample from Le Manoir to taste it.

The wine has a deep gold color with shades of amber. The nose is clean and intense, with rich layers of apricots, saffron, ginger, pineapple and a nice mineral aroma. This full bodied wine is unctuous in the mouth, rich, with a reinvigorating mineral flavor that balances well the sweetness and leaves a long tropical fruits aftertaste. The wine has good balance, it is not flabby and the sweetness not over the top. 89-90 points

Later the same day we visited our good Greek friends, Christiana and Iannis, for an extended home cooked dinner and a game of cards. The meal, as always when cooked by Christiana, was utterly delicious and the only fault I can see is that it is so good that I cannot stop from eating. There is something special about every dish, even on the most simple ones, that makes it so delicious.

mashed potatoes baked in the oven

meat pie

chicken with gravy

The wines we had were a real treat. We had a Syrah from the Northern Rhone and a Riesling from Nahe, Germany.

2008 Dönnhoff Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Spätlese

This was praised by all the people around the table and the ladies were instantly seduced by it. A bright yellow lemon colored wine with intense aromas of petrol, tropical fruits, quince, litchi, caramelized pineapple, lemon peel, spices box and a great balance in the mouth with a refreshing high acidity and depth. A long and intense finish with an off dry aftertaste and thick layers of tropical fruits and lemon peel. Incredible balance between the sweetness in the mouth and the off dryness in the aftertaste. 94 points

2006 Thierry Allemand Cornas Reynard

The Reynard cuvee is made from grapes harvested from vines of Syrah older than 40 years and aged for about 18 months in French oak. The color is an opaque purpledark red. The nose is clean, intense, elegant and complex but still tight, with black pepper, bacon fat, juicy beef steak, a beautiful minerality, everything mixed with aromas of dark fruits: cranberries, plum and red currant on the background. The dark fruits aromas are not dominating, on the contrary, they just add more complexity to the spicy-mineral-meaty nose. In the mouth, the wine is medium to full bodied, well balanced, with a great back bone built around a high acidity and ripe tannins, with flavors of bacon fat, black pepper, an absolute refreshing minerality and layers of cranberry and blackberry. The finish is long, intense and spicy, with a touch of dryness without being aggressive. This masculine wine exhibits a perfect balance. The right acidity make it outstandingly easy to drink. A spectacular wine that can easily last for 15-20 years. 95 points

For the moment, the wine is quite closed. I have no doubts that in 10 years time this wine will build even more complexity and easily reach 97-98 points. Even at this stage the wine is irresistible and the hand wants to reach for the 2nd, the 3rd and the 4th glass from this absolutely balanced wine. 

It is useless to say that all people enjoyed both wines and together with the food and the good company we had, SAT evening was fun and entertaining.

The dessert marked the end of this tasty dinner, but not the evening.

Thanks for reading!

The International wine round table Ep 1

March 14, 2011 10 comments

Last SAT, on March 12th, about 14 wine lovers, some accompanied by their wives or girlfriends, got together at restaurant Trattoria Roma Opera for the 1st edition of the International wine round table for 2011 in Bucharest. The event started at 18:00 and while there were still a few people to come, all guests had the chance to taste the sparkling from Stirbey while the introductions were made. The event brought together two winemakers: Oliver Bauer and Ghislain Moritz, seven wine bloggers and the rest of the attendants simply wine lovers. The wine bloggers that attended this gathering were: Ciprian, Sorin, Mihnea, Nicusor, Raluca and Oliver and myself. The atmosphere was warm and friendly and everybody excited in the expectation of the actual tasting.

Together with Oliver, I started to uncork the wines and I have to say that three bottles were a bit of a challenge to get the cork out in one piece. Oliver pulled the cork on the 1970 Magnum and as the cork was completely soaked it just did not want to come out in one piece. I experienced the same challenges with the 1985 Smith Haut Lafitte and the 1996 d’Angludet. Both corks were soaked and just broke into two pieces. I managed to get the 2nd remaining part of the cork from the Smith Haut Lafitte clean and smooth but not in the case of d’Angludet. All the wines were put in decanters while we had the first 2 flights with Champagne and Riesling.

uncorking the 1970 Magnum

Oliver was a great host and told the story of each wine before being poured in glasses. His explanations were right on point, informative and easy to follow even for beginners. We started the tasting with the flight of Champagnes and they were served in the exact order of my tasting notes.

2000 Grand cru Blanc de Blancs Demiere Ansiot

A Champagne made from Grand Cru vineyards from le Mesnil sur Oger. This producer makes only 3 wines from 2.5 ha and this is a 100% Chardonnay sparkling.

The color is yellow light gold color with smooth and rich bubbles. The nose is elegant, medium intense, rich, yeasty with a mineral-stones touch, lime, stone fruit and an interesting aroma of caramel. The taste is medium+ body with a pleasant mouth feel, the smooth bubbles show absolute no aggressiveness, intense flavors, mineral palate, with a medium(+) finish and nice flavors of rock, lemon and green apple in the aftertaste. The most mineral sparkling of the flight. 89 points

H. Goutorbe Cuvee Prestige 1er Cru NV brut

Blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The color is pale yellow-gold, a bit more intense than the first one with smooth bubbles and less bubbling. The nose is medium intense, with aromas of yeast, brioche, baked apple, apricot and lemon showing a more developed wine. The taste is rich, with higher acidity and a bit more aggressive than the first one, medium(+) bodied, with flavors of apricots, lemon, a creamy palate, feels more concentrated, with citric fruits and biscuit in the aftertaste.  88 points

Rose brut Loriot-Pagel NV

The color is light pink salmon, bigger bubbles, a rich and intense bubbling. The nose is yeasty, round, with rich aromas of light red fruits, strawberry, brown sugar and brown apple. It tastes full body, intense, mineral, with light red fruits, grapefruit, a creamy palate and a medium(+) finish with red fruit and grapefruit peel in the aftertaste. My favorite of the flight. 90 points

The group rating was 1. 2000 Demiere Ansiot 2. both Loriot-Pagel NV and H. Goutorbe Cuvee Prestige 1er Cru NV with the same number of votes.

Next flight was Riesling from Austria.

2007 Riesling Smaragd Kellerberg Domaine Wachau

Light gold clear color. The nose is medium with aromas of lemon, wet stones, mineral, warm rubber, pineapple, light peach. A medium to full body wine with an intense sensation of sweetness on the initial attack, good acidity, and flavors of petrol, rock and pineapple. It is a bit bitter in the finish but a nice dry lemon-apple aftertaste with a reinvigorating acidity. 88-89 points

2007 Riesling Hochacker Nigl

The color is lighter and paler compared to the first wine with a yellow lemon color. The nose is more mineral, with citric aromas and chalky. In the mouth this wine shows a great contrast compared to the nose: rich sweetness, flavors of petrol-tire, pineapple, peach, a pleasant mouth-feel with a mineral palate, high acidity and a medium intense finish. 88-89 points

2000 Riesling Smaragd Loibner Berg F.X. Pichler

There is a beautiful deep gold color with an oily appearance. The nose is intense, with Riesling typicality, great aromas of petrol, warm tire, apricot, peach, pineapple, overall a nice and elegant nose. The initial attack shows an intense sensation of sweetness, balanced by a high acidity, a full body mouth feel, good mineral flavors intermixed with citric and stone fruits aromas. The finish is bald, with good minerality and tropical fruit flavors. A rich and intense Riesling. 91 points

Group’s favorites: 1. 2000 FX Pichler 2. 2007 Nigl 3. 2007 Domaine Wachau

With this wine we started our Bordeaux wine tasting, the actual purpose of our event.

1970 Chateau La Tour Figeac Grand cru classe in Magnum

The color is surprisingly young of dark ruby red with a bit of brick tones on the rim. The nose is clean, elegant, intense, mature and well developed, really classic Bordeaux, with beautiful aromas of cedar wood, blackcurrant, cassis, warm forest floor, truffles, sweet earthy red fruit flavors and cigar box. The taste is medium bodied, very youthful considering its age, with already dissolved tannins, but an absolutely silky mouth feel. There are flavors of red fruit, coffee, a bit of vegetables, leather and chocolate. The finish is medium(+) long with a minty red fruit flavor and good freshness. This wine is characterized by great balance and now at its peak. 93 points

The wine of the night for me this 1970 La Tour Figeac.

1985 Grand cru classe Chateau Fonplegade

There is a ruby red color with a bit of an orange rim. The nose is a bit off for me, the smell of a dump old cellar, a developed nose, showing light red fruit and more earthy aromas. The wine is medium to full body, with a contrasting sweet sensation, red fruits, a bit of heat, anise, ginger bread and a medium finish. 85 points

1985 Grand cru classe Chateau Smith-Haut-Laffite

Unfortunately this wine was cooked, on the nose and the taste the wine was maderized. Not rated.

1996 Cru bourgeois exceptionelle Chateau d’Angludet

The color is ruby red with light signs of aging. The nose is clean, appears the least developed, with some pronounced shades of vegetables, spicy, with marzipan, dry tomatoes, asparagus, mint-eucalyptus and red fruits. The taste is medium body with spicy red fruit, a lively acidity and a medium finish. 87 points

1996 Grand cru classe Chateau l’Arrosee

The color is ruby red with a bit of a light brick rim. A much nicer nose than the d’Angludet, with a beautiful Margaux typicality, clean, developed, showing a bit of cork taint, with nice aromas of leather, cedar and plum. The taste is medium body, really youthful, with good flavors of cedar wood, red currant, coffee bean, a light touch of vegetables, but an overall good and pleasant mouth feel. There are firm tannins, but not aggressive, that give a good structure to this wine and a nice mocha aftertaste. 89 points

2000 Chateau Rayne-Vigneau Sauternes 1er cru classe in Magnum

There is a beautiful clean amber color. The nose is clean, developed and intense, with rich aromas of stone fruits: apricot, peach,with caramelized like pineapple, honey, orange peel and a mineral oily tone. The taste is full body, a lovely mouth-feel, unctuous without being sticky, well balanced, intense flavors of apricots, honey, caramel are very well invigorated by a good acidity. The finish is lively and crisp with floral aromas. 92 points

My favorite wines of the tastings were:

1. 1970 La Tour Figeac, 2. 2000 Rayne-Vigneau Sauternes, 3. 2000 FX Pichler, 4. L’Arrosse, 5. Rose brut Loriot-Pagel NV, 6. 2000 Demiere Ansiot

Once the thematic tasting was over, Oliver and Raluca prepared two of their whites: a 2006 Feteasca Regala Genius Loci and a 2008 Sauvignon Blanc Vitis Vetus for the ones still in need for some more wine. I found it impossible to have any more dry wine after the sweet Sauternes.

The atmosphere during the wine tasting was relaxed, but also spiced with pertinent discussions about each wine. I am certainly looking forward for the next gathering.

To see more pictures from this event you can go here and here.

Thanks for reading!

Wine dinners Ep 1

March 11, 2011 1 comment

Bordeaux flight

On SAT, March 12th, a new serie of wine related events begins in Bucharest. This is an initiative started a few years ago by the team behind the blog Cellartales that already organized several dinners in other cities outside Bucharest (Sibiu and Dragasani area so far). The aim of this initiative is to bring together wine lovers and organize thematic wine dinners. Now this move starts in Bucharest as well, assisted by From grapes to wine, and the objective is to have such an event organized every 5-6 weeks. The theme of these wine dinners will be announced in advance and suggestions will be accepted as well. The group of participants will not exceed 14 people.

Our first event will take place tomorrow and is dedicated to old vintages of Bordeaux. The seats for this event were occupied within 3 days from spreading the word so any prior advertising was no longer necessary. The cost per seat for this event was 175 Ron and includes tasting of all the wines, water and a plate with cheese, grilled vegetables and some charcuterie products.

For anyone interested to attend the next similar event, please send an email with your details to my address: or to . The seats will always be limited to 14 people and the cost per seat will be around 35-40 Eur per person. If there is interest to try higher end wines this cost may increase.

Here are the wines for the first Wine dinner event:

1st Flight

2000 Grand cru Blanc de Blancs Demiere Ansiot

—-  H. Goutorbe Cuvee Prestige 1er Cru NV brut

—- Rose brut Loriot-Pagel NV

2nd Flight

– 2007 Riesling Smaragd Kellerberg Domaine Wachau

– 2007 Riesling Hochacker Nigl

– 2000 Riesling Smaragd Loibner Berg F.X. Pichler

3rd Flight

– 1970 Chateau La Tour Figeac Grand cru classe in Magnum

– 1985 Grand cru classe Chateau Fonplegade

– 1985 Grand cru classe Chateau Smith-Haut-Laffite

– 1996 Cru bourgeois exceptionelle Chateau d’Angludet

– 1996 Grand cru classe Chateau l’Arrosee

4th Flight

2000 Chateau Rayne-Vigneau Sauternes 1er cru classe  in Magnum

Will come back with tasting notes and feedback about the event after the weekend. Meanwhile, close up pictures with the wines of this event could be watched here.

Enjoy the weekend !

Thanks for reading!

Categories: Austria, Bordeaux, France

Terra Romana Milenium white 2010 and some other wines

March 10, 2011 Leave a comment

As we are slowly approaching the Good wine fair, this week was above average in terms of wine consumption for me. Whether it is a coincidence or not, I do not know. I only know that the right circumstances occurred. For some wines I failed to put down complete tasting notes, but here they are anyway. I started on MON with a wine from Tenerife, Spain that I purchased a few years ago and a 2006 Italian Chianti Classico.

2007 Pagos Reveron Tinto Joven

This was a very mediocre wine. I did not like it at all and forced myself to have several sips eagerly trying to find some positive things about it. Unfortunately I could not. The wine went down the drain. It is a real pity as I actually bought this wine directly from the property when I was there.

I opened the next bottle of wine, received as a gift, hoping for a more pleasant experience this time.

2006 Risalto Chianti Montalbano Sensi

Even though it is only from 2006 this wine has an evolved color and appears oxidized. The nose is dominated by stinky barnyard aromas with light red fruit. The wine is medium body with a high acidity, that gives a surprising good lightness but not lack of flavors, with simple red fruit, earthy flavors and a medium finish. Not a blockbuster but not bad either. 81 points

On TUE, on March 8th, to celebrate Woman’s day, I had dinner with family in a more extended version at home and had two wines. A white received from Serve and a red Bordeaux.

2010 Terra Romana Milenium white

I received this wine this week, via courier, as a free sample sent by winery together with their new 2010 Terra Romana Sauvignon Blanc. In the package there was also a letter containing technical specifications about the wines. I have to compliment them for adding technical specifications as I find it very useful and good to know. Here is the technical information:

– blend of Sauvignon blanc, Riesling and a drop of Chardonnay

– 12.8% alcohol

– residual sugar 3 gr/L

– acidity: 3.8 gr/L

– the grapes come from newly planted vineyards with yields of 8 tones/ha. 15% of the wine was aged in new oak for 3 months.

Color is light straw with an oily like appearance. The nose is fresh and clean, of medium intensity, balanced, with aromas of yellow flowers, melon, lemon, pear and a touch of minerals. Overall there is good freshness. The taste is medium+ body and an oily like feeling, balanced, good intensity of aromas, fruity and floral – yellow and white flowers, good acidity and a sense of roundness – probably from the oak which is well blended and the drop of Chardonnay. The finish is medium with discreet grapefruit bitterness. I find the nose charmer than the taste, but overall it is a clean and well made wine. I am not sure what is the selling price for this wine. 82 points

2004 Chateau d’Aiguilhe Cotes de Castillon

I already had a bottle of this wine a few weeks ago and you can read full tasting notes here.

Tonight this bottle seemed a bit more evolved than the last one and this was apparent in its color. The wine retains the same aromas and flavors as my last bottle with the sensation of heat still there. However, served chiller than normal and matched with grilled turkey the wine was a real enjoyment. 89-90 points

On WED evening we had dinner with  friends and brought Lebanese food at their place. For appetizer we quickly prepared some finger food with smoked salmon, fresh mint, capers and lemon to go with the bottle of sparkling. As I am still in the mood for bubbles, I brought a bottle of the sparkling I bought recently from Stirbey. Our dinner partners liked the wine and the pairing with salmon.

For Lebanese I brought a 2010 Cono Sur Gewurtztraminer that I think went fairly well. The intense flavors of litchi and rose petals were a fairly good match for the richly aromatic Lebanese food. I think this Gewurtz is a crowd pleaser as everybody like it and they all asked me where can they find some.

It is nice to surprise people with good wine. Usually this is how all passions start: with a spark.

Thanks for reading!

Categories: Bordeaux, Chile, Italy, Romania, Spain

A few wines from the weekend

Last weekend was only about Romanian wine and to my surprise, now reviewing the tasting notes I took, all wines were from Stirbey. Ain’t that something ? Looking back, the reason why it was only Stirbey, is the fact that I liked these wines at the’s fair last week and I wanted to try some of them again quietly, at home.

On SAT, after a rush for some mandatory gift buying for my wife’s birthday, we arrived at home at noon, exhausted, with an unsuccessful shopping result and completely starving. So we did some home cooking with fish and St Jacques we still had in the freezer. The menu was simple, it took only 20 minutes to prepare, but the result was excellent. Two types of grilled fish, butter roasted St Jacques, asparagus and freshly home made Mayo. I have to give credit to Andreea for the home made Mayo as it was entirely her work. Such an easy to prepare and tasty dish.

fish combo

I opened a Sauvignon Blanc Vitis Vetus 2008 from Stirbey that I received as a free sample from the winery. The wine complimented the dish nicely and happily balanced the fat of the Mayo.

2008 Stirbey Sauvignon Blanc Vitis Vetus

Color is pale yellow lemon. The nose is clean and reductive, round and balanced, with green apple, lemon, passion fruit flower, good minerality-wet rocks and some spice. Taste is medium body with good structure and concentration, balancing acidity, very straightforward with pleasant minerality-wet rocks and intense pure lemon-green apple flavors. Finish is medium with a good mineral citric aftertaste. 86-87 points

On SUN was my wife’s birthday and we started lunch by having a light appetizer at home together with a sparkling also from Stirbey that I purchased recently. For appetizer we had some finger food made from small French toast, smoked salmon, thinly cut lemon, fresh mint leaves, capers and butter. Together with the sparkling, this was one of the best pairings I had so far.

The sparkling from Stirbey is bone dry, fresh and mineral, with rich and smooth bubbles, aromas of citric fruits, chalk and dough, very pleasant mouth-feel, the acidity is not aggressive at all, the finish is medium and mineral. Such a lovely wine that you could easily drink a couple of bottles with food.

However be aware: if you are not a fan of extra brut sparkling, this wine may not be for you. Between four people this bottle was finished in about 15 minutes. Once appetizers and the sparkling were done, we left home and went to a restaurant to have lunch and continue our small party.

We chose La Bonne Bouche, a restaurant with French cuisine located in the Old Center. The location is very nice and gives you a feeling of warmth and coziness. The food is overall good and the dishes have a nice design. We tried the duck breast with sweet potatoes and asparagus, Salmon with vegetables, Pesto sauce and almonds, freshly made pasta with Salmon and a small dessert.

pasta with Salmon

Salmon with vegetables

duck breast

moelleux au chocolat with vanilla icecream

As the sparkling we just had at home was made from Cramposie, I suggested to try the still version of the same grape variety, also from Stirbey, they had on the menu. So our choice was a 2009 Stirbey Cramposie Selectionata. The wine has nice aromatics, a pleasant acidity and my favorite part: the finish. There is a beautiful, clean, fresh flavor of pink grapefruit in the aftertaste. Unfortunately there is not a single bottle left available at the winery, as their entire production of 2009 whites is sold out. I guess we just have to be patient and wait the release of the new 2010s.

After the SAT shopping rush that culminated successfully the same evening with a second trip to the stores, SUN was a relaxing and fun day spent together with the family, with good food and interesting wines.

Thanks for reading!

Categories: Romania

Lacerta winery

March 7, 2011 2 comments

winemaker Mihai Banita

On THU evening Le Manoir hosted the launching event of the Lacerta wines. It was a great chance for me to meet Mr Mihai Banita, their winemaker, to get first hand information from him and taste all their wines in his company.

Lacerta has about 80 ha of land, the oldest vines they have being planted in 2005. Mr Banita mentioned they have about 5000 vines planted per ha and a brand new winery was built. The last part still under construction is the tasting room that should be ready by April-June this year. Their label shows a lizard that, according to Mr Banita, it is very common in the region and a sign of healthy terroir and low chemicals usage.

In the cellar they work with four-five types of oak. The wines we had were recently bottled(between 1st and 10th of February) and the wines showed signs of bottle shock. While the nose of each wine was clean and revealing distinctive aromas for each grape variety, the taste and the aftertaste were unusually uniform. There are five white wines made from single varieties: Pinot Gris, Rheinriesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Muscat Ottonel and a sixth white blend named Cuvee X, made of all five varieties. Overall, the wines show good concentration and length in the mouth, with clean and charming aromas on the nose. Hopefully after 1-2 months they will get over the bottle shock and lose the undifferentiated taste that characterizes them at this stage.

We started the tasting with:

Pinot Gris 2010: at 14.8% alcohol the wine shows a serious unpleasant bitterness in the aftertaste;

– the Rheinriesling 2010 is mineral but maintains fruity aromas;

– the Sauvignon Blanc 2010 has a reductive nose and good concentration while showing mineral flavors;

– the Chardonnay 2010 appears too shy;

– the Muscat Ottonel 2010 is fresh and intense on the nose;

In my opinion, the most balanced and attractive of their whites is the white Cuvee X (there is also a red Cuvee IX). A really fresh and clean nose, a wine with good acidity and balance, clear and intense aromas, both on the nose and the mouth, with a refreshing appealing aftertaste.

Lacerta produces three different red wines, each of them aged for 12 months in 4-5 types of oak:

– a Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz 2009 showing a youthful nose, with sweet candied like fruit and lactic aromas;

– the Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 was the most interesting of the three. The nose is youthful and developing. The wine shows a nice Cabernet typicality.

– the last red is Cuvee IX 2009 – blend of Cab Sauv/Merlot/Shiraz- youthful nose with oaky aromas, a type of mix between the first two wines.

white Cuvee and red blend

The prices for these wines – at the winery – will be between 39 – 59 Ron (9.2 – 14 Eur) per bottle. In wine shops and restaurants they will probably be double that price. There is no doubt that the wines have potential and hopefully in 6-8 weeks they will start to shine.

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Wine event organized by the French Embassy

March 7, 2011 3 comments

On March 3rd, the French Embassy organized at Hotel Novotel, in Bucharest, a wine event inviting different producers from France to introduce their wines to the Romanian market. The event was structured in two parts: the morning was reserved for importers and distributors and the afternoon for press and people in HORECA. There were about 9-10 different booths, hosting the wines of each participant.

There were wines from Alsace, Bordeaux, Cotes du Roussillon and Cotes du Roussillon villages, Cote du Rhone, Bourgogne and Val de Loire, ranging from 1.5 EUR to a maximum of 17 EUR(ex-cellar). There were about 40-50 different wines and I managed to taste pretty much all of them. The quality was rather average and the best wines being the wines of Domaine Boudau from Languedoc-Roussillon.

Veronique Boudau, the winemaker

Domaine Boudau wines

I liked particularly two of their wines: a Syrah-Grenache Noir blend (Cuvée Henri Boudau 2009) and a Mourvedre based cuvee (Cuvée Padri 2008) both aged for 12 months in French oak. The prices for their wines vary between 2-3 EUR to a maximum of 10 EUR for the wines brought at this fair. The lady mentioned they also have an old vines Grenache Noir cuvee that they sell for 14 EUR that unfortunately she did not bring. All prices are ex-cellar – do not include VAT and shipping cost.

wines of Blasons de Bourgogne

wines ranging from 1.5 eur to 12 eur

It was a good initiative for the French Embassy to organize such an event and hopefully they will make it a habit and invite more producers with better overall quality in the future.

Here is the list with all the French participants: (DOMAINE ERIC BLANCHARD)

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Categories: France, People in wine bus

Last weekend’s wine event organized by

March 4, 2011 5 comments

the star of the wine fair IMHO*

Last weekend, on SAT and SUN , I did attend the wine fair organized by, the Romanian wine magazine, in the old center of Bucharest. The event was held at the same location as the first edition of this event. While the participants were pretty much the same, there were also some new wineries from Dragasani with stands introducing their wines. In my opinion, the star wine of the event was the newly launched sparkling wine from Crama Stirbey/Stirbey winery made from 100% Cramposie (a local indigenous white grape variety).

smooth and intense bubbling

Stirbey’s winemaker, Oliver Bauer, managed to produce a very good sparkling with really smooth bubbles,  persistent acidity, zero dosage, clean and fresh with citric aromas and a nice overall mouth-feel. Someone found it lacking enough flavors and blame it on the poor aromatics of Cramposie, but for me this is a wine that goes perfectly with food, while still remaining very enjoyable on its own. Some may find the wine pricey – it sells for 65 RON/15.5 EUR at the winery-  compared to other Romanian sparkling wines, but it is, in my humble opinion(IMHO*), the best one made so far.

There is consistent quality in all their wines as I got to taste 6 more wines they had available for tasting: Sauv Blanc 2009, Sauv Blanc Vitis Vetus 2008, Genius Loci Feteasca Regala 2007, Merlot 2008, Cab Sauv 2008, Feteasca Neagra 2008.

There are two more wines I found very interesting from Vinchile at this fair: 2006 Villard l’Assemblage grand vin and 2006 San Pedro Malbec 1865 single vineyard. It is very hard not say that these wines do not come from Chile as they have that distinctive Chilean bitter-mineral aroma. This time I managed to get tasting notes so here they are:

2006 Villard l’Assemblage grand vin

Blend of Cab Sauv-Merlot-Petit verdot aged for 12 months in French oak. A dark red colored wine with a medium intensity nose, developed aromas of cocoa, dark fruits and sweet oak while still preserving the Chilean Cabernet flavors. This medium bodied wine is balanced with flavors of sweet dark fruits, chocolate, mocha and has a medium finish with a pleasant dark chocolaty aftertaste. While the wine is loaded with sweet fruit it is not in excess. A nice wine but I do not know its price. 88-89 points

2006 San Pedro Malbec 1865 single vineyard

A dark red velvet color. It has an elegant nose with medium intensity, a typical Chilean petrol-bitter aroma and dark fruits. The taste is medium body, with dry and firm tannins, coffee, dark chocolate and red fruits. There is a medium finish with interesting minty-eucalyptus and espresso aftertaste. The drying tannins are a bit too aggressive for my taste, but would probably go well with rich food. Just like the previous wine, as much as there is rich fruit, this is not overpowering the rest of the flavors. A really well made Malbec. 88 points

On SUN evening, after the wine fair, I had dinner again with the Bauer’s and tasted together more wines. After this weekend and the few conversations and wines tasted together with Oliver Bauer, I can say that I got a certain understanding of his wine-making style regarding his reds. I have to say honestly, that I very much prefer his whites and I always found the reds the least approachable and unappealing in the first few years after release. According to his beliefs and based on the wines and the tasting comments we shared during this weekend, he is a fan of old style Bordeaux wine-making. His wines are not built to please immediately upon release, but to reward on the long term. The first wines made at Stirbey were in the 2003 vintage therefore it is too soon to say if he is right or not and how these red wines are evolving. The oldest wine I tried from Stirbey was a 2004 Merlot, tasted last year in May when I visited the winery. Popped and poured, the wine seemed closed and unapproachable, but people that tried this wine the second day did find it more appealing and charming.

During the SUN dinner, we tried three different wines that were very far away in quality compared to our FRI evening tasting.

2007 Ktima Biblia Chora

I bought this wine in September 2010 from Greece. A dark red colored wine. The nose is oaky, medium(-) intensity, youthful, simple with red cherry and lactic aromas. The taste is medium body with a firm tannins structure that I found quite aggressive, with flavors of mocha and red fruits. The finish is medium(-), drying the mouth and a bitter coffee aftertaste. 84-85 points

2007 Masi Campofiorin Ripasso

I received this wine from Recas winery as a free sample to taste it some while ago and it was only now that I got the chance to open it. A ruby red colored wine. It has a clean nose with medium(-) intensity with red cherry and raspberry aromas. A medium bodied wine with flavors of red fruits and dark chocolate, finishing with a short to medium dark chocolaty aftertaste. 77-78 points

2009 Gramma Feteasca Regala

A pale yellow lemon color. The nose is fresh and clean with lemon, green apple and light spice. The taste is medium body, feels fat, not enough acidity giving a heavy mouth-feel, with lemon peel and grapefruit flavors. The finish is short with grapefruit and a strong sensation of unbalanced alcohol(14%). I find it heavy, lacking a sustainable balance. This wine feels like it’s rushing on a downhill slope from the moment you uncork it gradually losing its freshness and balance. 65 points

Busy but fun weekend.

Thanks for reading!

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