I met Nicusor Cazan, another fellow wine blogger from Bucharest, last night to taste two Romanian wines from Vinarte. We gathered just in time for dinner at Trattoria Roma near Opera Center, and did an academical exercise by having a small vertical of Vinarte’s flagship wine: Castel Soare from two vintages. I am always curios to taste an older Romanian wine. We had a Magnum of 2001 vintage and a regular bottle of 2005 vintage. Both wines, as printed on the back label, are 100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged for 12 months in oak barrels. I previously tasted the 2004 version of this wine here.
2005 Castel Soare Vinarte (12.8% alc)
Ruby red color, similar to a darker Pinot Noir. A developing, youthful nose, tight, with initial aromas of mushrooms that faded away quickly with aeration, leaving space to red fruits and a touch of dried herbs. Medium bodied, with firm tannins, balanced, with red fruit, light greenness and a touch of earth on the palate, and a medium finish with pleasant acidity. The wine is young and comes a bit on the light side for now. (84/100)
2001 Castel Soare Vinarte from Magnum (13.5% alc)
Youthful dark red garnet color, with shades of brick on the rim. A well developed and maturing nose, rich, with charming complexity, sweet, with aromas of old leather, earth, barnyard, red fruits, chocolate and plums. A really nice and interesting nose. Medium to full bodied, very youthful in the mouth, with assertive tannins and good lift, a lively red fruit, cedar and earthy-mineral palate, with further depth given by espresso-coffee bean bitterness. A pleasant mouth-feel and a medium plus finish, with chewy tannins and earthy red fruit in the aftertaste. The nose is sweet, while the palate is more like an old school Bordeaux, with pleasant bitterness and discreet sweet red fruit. A really nice wine. (89/100)
As a conclusion: both wines show a good oak integration and the alcohol is well balanced. The 2001 is surprisingly youthful, and developed into a really interesting wine that can evolve even further. The tannins are still firm, but they are not aggressive and give this wine a good freshness. 2005 does not seem to posses the same texture to develop similarly in time as its older brother. For me, Soare 2001 in Magnum is not only a very interesting wine, but is a wine I will buy to keep in my cellar and see how it evolves over the next 3-5 years. Magnums of 2001 are available at Metro and at the winery for around 160-170 RON.
My last visit to a winery in Bordeaux was at Chateau Cos d’Estournel in Saint-Estephe on June 24th for 15:30. I missed the correct route leaving from Pontet Canet in Pauillac to St-Estephe, so I arrived at Cos 15 minutes later than scheduled. The guide gave me a quicker than normal tour of the property as the next group – a group of Chinese as I discovered later on – scheduled for 16:00 was about to arrive. However, there was no rush on tasting the wines.
Cos d’Estournel took its modern form after 1811, when Louis d’Estournel developed the estate and expanded its vineyards. The design of the winery was built to remind him of the time he had spent as a trader in the Far East. In 1852 the property was sold to English bankers, who continued to invest in the estate. At this time the wine sold for prices higher than almost all Second Growths. In 1889 the Charmolue family, which would also acquire Montrose a few years later, bought Cos, before selling it in 1917 to Fernand Ginestet. His daughter Arlette married into the Prats family, which is how, in 1971 , it came into the hands of Bruno Prats. In 1998 Prats sold Cos to the Taillan group(owners of Gruaud Larose and many other properties) and some Argentinian investors. In 2000 the property was sold to Michel Reybier, a French food manufacturer. After the departure of Bruno Prats his son, Jean-Guillaume, stayed on as a general manager of the domain. Since 2004 the technical director has been Dominique Arangoits, who in his time has made wine in Tokaj. Currently Bruno Prats has wineries and produces wines in Spain in Priorat(was one of the pioneers of Priorat), Portugal, South Africa and other countries.
Some would argue that Cos d’Estournel is closer in style to Pauillac than St-Estephe. It is certainly true that the vineyards share a long boundary with Chateau Lafite. The soil is very gravelly and there is less clay than at most St-Estephe properties. The drainage is excellent and it is the sand mixed in with the gravel that helps retain water to keep hydric stress at bay in hot summers. There is also a high proportion of Merlot planted, which is not the case at most Pauillac properties. The vineyards hug the chateau, except for a parcel belonging to its neighbor Cos-Labory. Cabernet Sauvignon is planted on higher ground, Merlot lower down. The average age of the vines is 35 years old, while some parcels are over 70 years old. Yields range around 40-45 hl/ha. There are 64 ha under vines and the grapes are 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc. The wine is aged for 18 months in new French oak, the proportion of new oak varies considerably depending on the vintage. Cos is fined in the barrel, but is no longer filtered before bottling.
The winery and cellar of Cos d’Estournel are breathtakingly beautiful. The owners recently invested about Eur 30 Millions in state of the art technology and rebuilt the winery. They added custom made temperature controlled stainless-steel vats in an attempt to vinify separately as many parcels as possible for a better control of the final blend, a barrel aging room with a cat-walk like bridge that goes on top of the oak barrels and leads to the wine library containing older vintages of Cos – some of the oldest are from early 1800, and a tasting room with clear Indian influences that can compete with any smart fusion lounge in the world.
After the tour of the winery, we returned back to the tasting room where I had the chance to taste three of their wines: 2010 Chateau Cos d’estournel, 2010 Pagodes de Cos – Cos second wine, and 2010 Goulee by Cos d’Estournel – a northern Medoc made wine.
2010 Goulee by Cos d’Estournel
Blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot. Average yield for the vintage: 30 hl/ha. 13.74% alcohol.
Red garnet color and the least colored of all three wines tasted. A spicy nose with plenty of red fruit, with an interesting complexity given by additional aromas of musk and bacon fat. Really nice nose. Medium plus bodied, with good tannins structure, charming palate and a medium chocolatey finish. Very approachable already. (91-92/100)
2010 Pagodes de Cos
Blend of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon and 38% Merlot. Proportion of first and second wine: 55% Cos d’Estournel and 45% Pagodes de Cos. Average yield for the vintage: 38 hl/ha. 14.13% alc.
Dark red-purple color. A tighter nose than the Goulee, with good Cabernet like flavors on the palate: rich blackcurrant, spices and coffee aromas, good mouth-feel and a medium plus finish with nice flavors of chocolate, black tea and mint. (91-92/100)
2010 Chateau Cos d’Estournel
Blend of 78% Cab Sauv, 19% Merlot, 2% Cab Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. It is said that they use Petit Verdot only in the best vintages. 14.5% alc
Deep dark purple color and the thickest texture of the three. A very elegant nose already, with complex aromas of mint, spices, red currant and coffee bean. Full bodied, rich and dense on the palate, with solid ripe tannins, well structured and balanced, with ample fruit, showing great freshness and good minerality. A very long finish with intense aromas of fruit, black tea, chocolate and coffee. A wine with depth and freshness. (96-98/100)
I have to say that of all the wineries I have seen in Bordeaux during my 3 days trip, Cos was the most impressive. This was my last trip to a domain for FRI, after making a marathon from one Chateau to another, from Saint Julien to Pauillac and then St-Estephe, visiting and tasting the wines. This was overall an unexpectedly rewarding trip for me and I am certainly looking forward to return to Bordeaux as soon as possible.
It is always fun to visit friends that you have not met for a while, as the joy of seeing and spending quality time with them is priceless. We spent great moments last night, meeting our Greek friends after not seeing them for more than a couple of months. The weather was lovely outside as the high temperatures from last week took a break, so we just sat in their garden and enjoyed a lovely summer night with an old fashioned barbeque. We started serving the appetizers with a charming white Italian frizzante.
Merlino Pinot Nero frizzante
Medium yellow lemon color with discreet small bubbles. Fresh nose, with deep citrus, dough and mineral aromas. Bright acidity, frizzante, rich and creamy on the palate, with generous flavors of citrus, chalk, wet stones, with a medium lingering grapefruit peel finish. Fresh and creamy. (87/100) 12% alc
It is hard not to like this wine on a summer day next to black and red fish eggs on a bed of bread with butter. As our hosts started to prepare the barbecue, I took the initiative and opened the first bottle of red wine.
I long wanted to open a bottle of 2009 Hyperion Cabernet Sauvignon and taste the wine knowing that 2009 was a good vintage in Dealu Mare. I received a bottle as a free sample from the producer a few weeks ago, so I decided to open it and share the experience with our friends. A full review of this wine is here.
The wine of the night for me was, unquestionably, a Syrah from one of the most acclaimed Northern Rhone appellations: Cornas. I had two more encounters with the wines of this producer in the past, both coming from the 2006 vintage: Chaillot and Reynard. 2007 was a better vintage in the Northern Rhone, the wines having all the attributes to develop and last 18+ years.
2007 Thierry Allemand Reynard Cornas
Deep red purple, almost opaque in color. Youthful, very complex and well developed nose, extremely spicy, with rich aromas of cinnamon, cloves, blackberry and crushed black pepper. Intense meaty-beef blood aromas come out of the glass as the wine breathes, mixed with a touch of hot stones minerality and soy sauce. Gorgeous nose. Medium plus bodied, well structured on the palate, with firm tannins and bright acidity, great mouth-feel, very fresh, with flavors of roasted herbs, mint, red fruits, green vegetables, spices and beautiful minerality. Very long finish, spicy, mineral and meaty. Very long life ahead and it will become an even more interesting wine in time. (94/100)
A 100% Syrah from 40+ years old vines with superb freshness and very easy to drink. The wine was served next to an aged medium-rare T-Bone steak, grilled on the barbecue. I honestly cannot think of a better pairing for this wine, as the wine is mirroring the meat flavors.
Another top notch dinner prepared by Christiana and quality moments spent with our Greek friends. Life is terrible.
100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged for 12 months in American oak. 2009 is considered a great vintage in Romania.
2009 Hyperion Cabernet Sauvignon
Dark red garnet color. The nose is undeveloped, oaky, with youthful aromas of red fruits and yoghurt. A medium to full bodied wine, with good Cabernet typicality, balanced and well structured on the palate, with flavors of red fruits, blackcurrant, green bell pepper, cedar and firm tannins . The finish is medium plus long, a bit spicy, very dry, with grippy tannins and modest complexity. (84-85/100)
At this stage, I find no Cab typicality on the nose, as a matter of fact it seems more of a generic nose to me, and the oak still has to blend in. The wine tastes better than it smells, but the finish is a bit aggressive.
Tasted by the glass at the wine-bar. 100% Sauvignon Blanc from Pouilly Fume.
2006 Michel Redde Cuvee Majorum Pouilly-Fume
Deep yellow lemon-gold color. While cold, the nose is pretty tight, but after it gets warmer in the glass, the wine starts to open with elegant and complex aromas of dried lemons, grapefruit, wet rocks minerality and spices. Medium bodied, with intense clean fresh fruit and rich honeyed layers on the palate, mixed with a well developed minerality and vibrant acidity. A medium plus finish, spicy and mineral. (89-90/100)
It is recommendable to drink this wine a touch warmer than too cold as it enables to reveal more complex aromas.
A property that belongs to Bordeaux negociant Dourthe and a wine coming from 2007 – quite a modest vintage for Bordeaux. A predominantly Merlot based wine.
2007 Chateau La Garde Pessac-Leognan
Deep dark red garnet color. A developed and sweet oaky nose, with ripe blackberry and plum, cocoa, cinnamon and even shades of warm forest floor. Medium bodied, very approachable, with mellow tannins, bright acidity, flavors of cocoa, black and red berries, with good minerality and a medium spicy-mineral finish. (87-88/100)
This wine is drinking very well now.
I had this wine by the glass at the new wine-bar opened by Le Manoir just near the Hilton Hotel in Bucharest.
2009 Joseph Drouhin Clos des Mouches Blanc
Medium gold color. Complex and intense nose, with deep aromas of smoked citrus fruit, flowers and wet rocks. Full bodied, with good acidity, opulent on the initial attack, with very pronounced smoke aromas coming from a sustained minerality, with flavors of honey, nuts and citrus fruits. Medium to long finish, fresh, with mouth watering acidity and citric minerality. (91-92/100)
The smoke flavors are really interesting in this wine.