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Participare la Forumul Vinul.ro din 14 Aprilie 2013

April 15, 2013 6 comments

Duminica am participat ca si guest speaker la Forumul Vinul.ro ce s-a desfasurat la hotel Marshal Garden in perioada 13-14 Aprilie 2013. Alaturi de colegul meu Nicusor Cazan am avut cele 30 de minute de glorie in care am vorbit despre “Cine sunt Bloggerii de vin si vor ei”.

Desi audienta se mai rarise, la sfarsitul prezentarii au fost multe intrebari din partea audientei care a dorit sa afle urmatoarele:

– de ce nu ne tragem de maneca intre noi cand unii sar calul si exagereaza cu comentariile rau intentionate?

– exista un cod de etica care ar trebui respectat de aceasta comunitate ? Aparent audienta nu crede ca exista un astfel de cod urmat de toti bloggerii de vin din Romania.

– eu am semnalat dificultatile pe care le-am intampinat din dorinta de a urma un curs specializat de degustare si faptul ca desi am trimis faxuri de inscriere si am incercat sa contactez membrii din ADAR, de 6-7 luni nu am primit nici un raspuns.

Dl Grigorica a promis ca daca strangem un grup de 10 persoane se va ocupa personal de organizarea acestui curs. Aceasta initiativa vine dupa incidentul neplacut pe care l-am intampinat anul trecut cand am fost invitat alaturi de alti colegi bloggeri de vin de catre Vinul.ro sa fac parte din juriul concursului de vinuri organizat impreuna cu Asociatia Producatorilor de Vin din Dragasani, cand anumiti membrii din aceasta Asociatie s-au impotrivit vehement unei astfel de participari.

De asemenea dl Catalin Paduraru a lansat invitatia de a forma o comisie separata din bloggeri de vin care sa participe la concursul International Wine Contest Bucharest din 23-26 Mai 2013.

Au fost multe intrebari si eu sper ca vor iesi multe lucruri bune de acum din punct de vedere educational si de implicare a acestei comunitati mici de pasionati.

Mai jos este prezentarea noastra.

Interview with Francois Bannier from Hecht&Bannier (Video in English)

Francois Bannier, one of the partners and winemakers of Hecht&Bannier, was present at the end of February 2013 in Bucharest, Romania. He was kind enough to accept an interview and we tasted several of his wines labelled as “Les Crus”. Each wine from this range comes from a single Appellation (ex: Minervois, Saint-Chinian, Bandol, Cotes du Roussillion Villages, etc) and is aged for 24 months in demi-muids.

On this episode we tasted:
2009 H&B Minervois
2009 H&B Saint Chinian
2009 H&B Bandol

Enjoy the video !

Degustare Hecht & Bannier

February 25, 2013 Leave a comment

Les Crus (4) ©Hecht&Bannier

Articol publicat pe site-ul revistei Millesime.

Miercuri 20 februarie a fost prezent in Bucuresti Francois Bannier, unul dintre cei doi oenologi si proprietari ai producatorului de vinuri din sudul Frantei: Hecht & Bannier. Cu aceasta ocazie, importatorul si distribuitorul acestor vinuri in Romania – compania Le Manoir – a organizat o degustare la Wine Bar-ul pe care-l detine pe strada Episcopiei 2-4, langa Ateneul Roman in Bucuresti. In cadrul acestei degustari Francois Bannier a prezentat vinurile pe care le produce impreuna cu partenerul sau Didier Hecht. Francois Bannier provine din Bordeaux, Didier Hecht din Alsacia, ambii au lucrat la diferite crame in Burgundia, dar s-au indragostit imediat de sudul Frantei si au decis sa inceapa un parteneriat impreuna.

Hecht&Bannier este o societate relativ tanara, stabilita in anul 2002 in sudul Frantei, producand vinuri in regiunea Langeudoc-Roussillion si Provence, care s-a remarcat rapid prin calitatea vinurilor sale, atragand atentia presei internationale de vin si obtinerea constanta a unor punctaje mari.

Hecht&Bannier este un negociant eleveur, ceea ce inseamna ca societatea nu detine vita de vie proprie. Achizitia de struguri are loc atat de la producatori tineri, cat si de la diverse cooperative si domenii cu renume. Hecht & Bannier achizitioneaza de asemenea vinuri care au terminat fermentatia si care sunt apoi transportate in locatia lor pentru a fi cupajate si maturate. Un negociant eleveur controleaza intreg procesul de la cupajare la maturarea vinului, prin alegerea tipului de butoaie de stejar, durata, imbutelierea si invechirea lui in sticle inainte de a fi pus pe piata. H&B sunt specilizati in producerea vinurilor rosii.

Francois Bannier a declarat ca, desi nu au contracte pe mai multi ani cu nici unul dintre producatori, ei achizitioneaza struguri sau vin de la aceleasi surse in proportie de 80% in fiecare an, continuand insa sa prospecteze si sa descopere furnizori si zone noi. H&B produce vinuri din Minervois, Saint Chinian, Faugeres si Limoux in Languedoc, Cotes du Roussillon Villages si Maury in Roussillon, Bandol si Cotes de Provence din Provence.

Sunt preferate achizitiile de struguri sau de vin ce provin din parcele cu vita de vie ce ajung si la 100 de ani vechime din micro-climaturi mai racoroase, scopul urmarit fiind obtinerea unor vinuri dense, dar care pastreaza prospetime.

Procesul de maturare se face in diferite vase de ciment si de lemn, baricuri de 225 l dar si butoaie mari de stejar de 600 l, denumite demi-muids si comune in aceasta parte a Frantei. Acest proces dureaza pana la 24 de luni pentru vinurile numite sugestiv les Crus: cupaje de vinuri ce provin din mai multe parcele diferite din aceeasi apelatiune (ex. Minervois, Saint Chinian, Cotes du Roussillon Villages) si reunite fiecare intr-o singura eticheta.

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Cei doi asociati din Hecht&Bannier se mandresc cu faptul ca vasta majoritate a producatorilor cu care lucreaza controleaza vite de vie ce ofera struguri certificati organic, acest lucru demonstrand atentia crescuta pe care o primesc plantele. Recunosc de asemenea cu mandrie ca sunt cei care platesc cel mai mult pentru strugurii sau vinurile achizitionate.

 Vinurile pe care le produc se caracterizeaza prin accesibilitate si expresivitate, chiar din momentul lansarii, arome de lemn de stejar foarte bine integrate si care lasa expresia terroir-ului sa se afirme, echilibru intre densitate, fruct si prospetime. Sunt vinuri bine structurate, cu taninuri coapte si polisate, per ansamblu placand imediat.

 Impreuna cu Francois Bannier am degustat si comparat expresii diferite de Syrah din Minervois, Saint Chinian si Faugeres din Languedoc, de Grenache din Cotes du Roussillon Villages si de Mourvedre din Bandol:

  • H&B Minervois 2009: un vin inchis la culoare, expresiv, cu arome bogate si intense de fructe coapte, note de cacao si condiment, in gust echilibru intre finete si putere, structura densa, final mediu spre lung, cu note de ciocolata neagra si condiment.
  • H&B Saint Chinian 2008: note florale si lemn dulce aromat, frumos imbinate cu cele de fruct si scortisoara. Structura mai densa, taninuri coapte si postgust mediu spre lung. O expresie a Syrah-ului mai proaspata decat Minervois-ul.
  • H&B Faugeres 2008: cea mai impozanta expresie a Syrah-ului majoritar dintre cele trei vinuri. Un vin inchis la culoare, concentrat si voluptos in gust, echilibru excelent intre aromele bogate de fructe negre, ciocolata si carne macra, taninuri si prospetime, cu un final lung si postgust de-a dreptul picant.
  • H&B Cotes du Roussillion Villages 2009: cupaj majoritar de Grenache Noir alaturi de Syrah, Carignan si Mourvedre, merge o treapta si mai sus in concentratie si densitate. Un vin puternic, masculin, cu taninuri ferme dar coapte si imblanzite, avand clasa si putand face fata cu mandrie unui vin mai scump din Chateauneuf du pape. Final lung ce lasa arome dense de cacao, fulgi de ciocolata si condiment in postgust.
  • H&B Bandol 2009: provine din Provence unde 80% din vinul produs este roze; Francois se declara pe buna dreptate extrem de incantat de rezultatul final din sticla. Vinul este majoritar Mourvedre (peste 80%) si exprima perfect atributele acestui strugure: arome intense de pasta de masline negre usor amaruie, fructe rosii proaspete si note bogate de vanat si pamant proaspat arat. Maturarea indelungata a imblanzit taninurile ferme si mai salbatice specifice Mourvedre-ului, oferind un vin expresiv si accesibil. Este primul vin rosu lansat de H&B din Bandol. In general, vinurile provenind din Mourvedre sunt expresive si deschise in primii 2 ani de viata, urmand o etapa de ,,inchidere” de 3-4 ani, timp in care vinul este “zgarcit” in arome, pentru ca apoi sa se redeschida mai complex si mai evoluat. Sunt vinuri cu un potential bun de pastrare.

Vinurile Hecht&Bannier sunt disponibile in Romania prin importatorul La Manoir si in reteaua magazinelor Comtesse du Barry la preturi intre 59 Ron pentru gama entry level – denumite generic Languedoc – si 83-148 Ron pentru les Crus.

Articol scris de Cosmin Grozea

Biondi Santi Brunello di Montalcino – a vertical of 4 vintages

January 16, 2013 Leave a comment

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The first wine event of this year sounded extremely tempting from the moment I got the invitation so I had great expectations and looked forward to the event. The tasting was organized by Mr Marian Timofti, the importer of Biondi Santi to Romania, at the fancy new restaurant from Soseaua Nordului: La Brasserie Bistro&Lounge. The wines were opened with about 1-2 h in advance but they probably needed more time to breath.

The wine tasting consisted of 4 vintages of Biondi Santi Brunello di Montalcino: 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007, and 2 other wines representing a modern and different style: 2002 Col d’Orcia Olmaia Cabernet and 2006 Jacopo Biondi Santi Sassoalloro.

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2004 Biondi Santi Brunello di Montalcino

Saturated ruby red color. Developed nose, discreet sweetness, aromas of red fruits and green tomatoes and not very expressive. Medium body, lively, well structured, firm and assertive tannins, rather closed on the palate and feels very tight. A classic profile with a medium finish. The wine has high acidity that makes it feel too thin on the palate and as much as there are tannins and there is structure, the wine feels like it does not have enough substance. A bit of a disappointment considering that 2004 was an excellent vintage all over Italy. The acidity seems to give  most of its structure and as much as it can age for several more years I would be extremely curious to see if there is going to be any considerable improvement for this wine. (86-87/100)

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2005 Biondi Santi Brunello di Montalcino

Same saturated ruby red color. The nose is well developed, more expressive and pleasing than 2004, with aromas of game, leather and generous red fruit. Slightly fuller bodied, but remaining on the medium plus body, well structured and balanced, lively acidity, elegant profile, with smoother tannins and pleasant flavors of coffee, black tea and red fruits preserves. Medium-long finish with good freshness. Better to drink now. (88/100)

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2006 Biondi Santi Brunello di Montalcino

Same saturated ruby red color. The nose is developed but is not very expressive at this moment. Aromas of green vegetables and green tomatoes, hints of refreshing eucalyptus underneath discreet red fruits fill the glass and, as it aerates, aromas of mushrooms become evident. Medium plus body, this vintage has more substance, better structure and balance, remaining on the same path of elegance. It rewards the palate also. Medium to long finish, with black tea flavors. This one has all the components to age well and get better. (90-91/100)

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2007 Biondi Santi Brunello di Montalcino

Saturated ruby red color. A well developed and expressive nose already, with balsamic notes, good complexity, and intense aromas of red fruits preserves, spices and leather. Medium plus body, good extraction but remaining elegant, structured and expressive on the palate. Long aftertaste with a classic profile and very good freshness. There is a pleasant mild sweetness on the palate that seduces you unconditionally. An already expressive wine. (90-91/100)

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2006 Jacopo Biondi Santi Sassoalloro

Deep dark garnet color. Developed on the nose, with the right amount of fruit, floral aromas, plums and spices. Medium to full body, assertive and dry tannins, flavors of red and black cherry, tobacco and mineral on the palate. Medium finish. While this is not a really complex wine, it will please a larger number of consumers. (88/100)

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2002 Col D’Orcia Olmaia Cabernet

Dark red garnet color with minor signs of evolution. A well developed and maturing nose, really lovely, expressive and fresh. There are still plenty of primary, red fruit aromas, spices, leather and a charming freshness given by eucalyptus. Full bodied, expressive, structured, but tannins are very smooth and fully blended, a wine that feels at its peak now and acting accordingly. It has a lengthy finish preserving the same freshness. Perfect to drink now. (90/100)

After the tasting was over, one of the persons at my table offered to bring 2 bottles of older Bordeaux that were also served to some of the participants that were still present.

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1982 Chateau Beaumont Haut Medoc

I managed to safely uncork the wine in one piece. Coming from a stellar 1982 vintage this was not only alive, but still very good. The color is ruby red with a brick rim. The nose was initially closed and offered intense aromas of horse sweat and brett, but as it breathed these aromas lost their intensity and let the pleasant ones to shine: cedar, subdued sweet red fruit, graphite, smoke, tobacco and earth. Mature wine, still structured and very much alive on the palate, lively acidity, discreet red fruits and black tea. A medium finish, refreshing. Better to be consumed now. (88/100)

1983 Chateau Haut Surget Lalande de Pomerol

The cork came out in one piece also. Ruby red color with brick meniscus. A more intense mature nose, with pronounced red fruits aromas, there is however a metallic-rusty aroma that makes it less interesting. It also seemed a bit more fuller on the palate, completely mature, lively acidity, denser red fruits also, with a medium finish reminding of black tea and dried cherries. Lesser pleasure for me than the 1982. (84/100)

It was definitely a great event and I was glad that it gave me the chance to get accustomed with the elegant and classic Biondi Santi’s wines. 2006 and 2007 are still available at the importer Arte&Vino shop near Carol Park in Bucharest.

Goodwine Noiembrie 2012

November 26, 2012 4 comments

Desfasurat intr-o noua locatie mult mai spatioasa: Romexpo complex C1, editia din toamna a targului de vinuri Goodwine face pasii necesari pentru a se apropia gradual de standardele targurilor internationale de vinuri. Standuri mai mari si mai aerisite, iar efectul a fost imediat resimtit: desi sambata era lume multa te puteai misca in voie pe culoare. De asemenea avand standuri mai mari, am observat ca fiecare producator a crescut numarul personalului astfel incat nu trebuia sa stai prea mult la coada sa poti degusta ce doresti. Trebuie sa salutam initiativa organizotorilor Goodwine pentru schimbarea locatiei si sa speram ca vom vedea urmatoarele editii in format si mai extins.

Am apreciat de asemenea initiativa unor noi producatori care au decis sa participe la acest targ pentru prima oara: Cramele Halewood, dar si crame sau distribuitori din tara sau din afara tarii: Ecoreca, Vinitaly Deluxe si Smartdrinks din Romania, si Crama Borha importator de vinuri spaniole.

Am descoperit si redescoperit vinuri noi si vinuri mai vechi care au evoluat surprinzator. Doresc sa le multumesc tuturor producatorilor si distribuitorilor pe care i-am vizitat pentru disponibilitatea si timpul acordat, dar si pentru explicatiile detaliate si prezentarile oferite.

Ca sa rezum ziua de sambata pe care am petrecut-o aproape in totalitate la Goodwine voi mentiona vinurile care m-au surprins si mi-au placut in mod deosebit.

– la Cramele Halewood dl Muntean (foto) a avut amabilitatea alaturi de enologul Lorena Deaconu de a-mi prezenta personal noile vinuri care vor fi lansate in viitorul apropiat. As putea spune ca urmatoarele trei vinuri au fost pentru mine cateva dintre revelatiile targului: 2008 Rheea Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon (un vin “uitat” imbuteliat in crama pentru o perioada mai lunga la maturare care aminteste de un cupaj din Bordeaux de pe Malul Drept – Saint-Emilion), o noua Feteasca Neagra 2009 care va intra in gama Hyperion dar cu o noua eticheta care provine dintr-un lot situat la o altitudine mai ridicata (500 m) fata de viile care produc Hyperion FN, mult mai densa si mai interesanta, dar si noul Cantus Primus Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 care are toate calitatile unui an de exceptie (2009). Cramele Halewood pregatesc noi lansari interesante in ciuda numarului mare de etichete deja existente in portofoliul lor.

– la Crama Oprisor am degustat alaturi de o doamna, Veronica Gheorghiu, despre care am aflat ca este enologul de serviciu alaturi de Liviu Grigorica toata gama superioara: Eticheta Rosie Cab Sauv, Smerenie, Nenumita 2008 si Cutia Paleologu 2007. Pentru mine Cutia Paleologu 2007 ramane vinul de top al Cramei Oprisor.

Crama Borha este importatorul unor vinuri de exceptie din Spania: La Rioja Alta, unul dintre cei mai consacrati producatori din Rioja, care pastreaza inca stilul Old School care a consacrat vinurile de Rioja. Preturile sunt comparabile cu cele din Spania. Am re-degustat un vin pe care il apreciez mult: 2001 La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza Reserva Especial (4 ani in baricuri americane si inca 3-5 ani maturare in sticla). Mai spectaculoase sunt 1998 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904 si 1995 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 890.

– vis-a-vis de ei un alt importator de vinuri spaniole, crama Arzuaga, cu vinuri placute dar din pacate cu marketing ieftin. Sustineau hotarat ca vinul La Planta din Ribera del Duero (un vin tanar si fructat, un Tempranillo modern) cu pretul de 45 Ron ar fi vandut ca si vinul casei la Burj al Arab in Dubai la 300 Eur sticla. Permiteti-mi sa am anumite rezerve.

– la Crama Basilescu am gasit o Feteasca Neagra 2009 interesanta, desi destul de neimblanzita si agresiva pentru moment. Sa-i dam inca 1-2 ani si ar trebui sa observam o metamorfoza frumoasa.

– la Cramele Recas o mini verticala de Cuvee Uberland de 3 ani : 2006, 2009 si 2011, a dezvaluit un 2006 care ar trebui consumat acum si care a virat catre un profil de fruct foarte copt. Regret profund ca nu am mai ajuns duminica la degustarea unor vinuri de import de top din portofoliul Cramelor Recas care se pare ca si-au imbogatit numarul etichetelor de import: Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne, Louis Latour Chassagne Montrachet rosu si inca 1-2 etichete de prestigiu care au fost incluse in aceasta degustare. Ii invidiez pe cei care au fost prezenti acolo duminica.

– poate cel mai surprinzator si, in opinia mea, poate cel mai bun vin dulce romanesc: Dessert Stirbey vandut in sticla de 375 ml cu un nivel scazut al alcoolului: 9.5% si o aciditate de Riesling din Mosel. Probabil nici cei mai carcotasi nu au ce sa-i reproseze ca si calitate.

Petro Vaselo surprinde din nou cu politica de preturi. Am degustat un Chardonnay maturat 6 luni in baricuri lansat recent si oferit la 78-80 Ron sticla. E bine ca industria continua sa ne surprinda.

– la SERVE am incercat noul Terra Romana Rose 2012 (nu inteleg cursa acestui producator de a scoate primul, vinul rose al noii recolte) si Cuvee Amaury 2011 (colegii mei au dreptate sa-l pozitioneze peste cel din 2010). Ca si simplu amator cred ca graba de a fi primul si a grabi lucrurile in acest domeniu nu este neaparat strategia cea mai buna.

– la standul Avincis am reintalnit-o pe Angela Prado care, intr-o romana superba, as putea zice ca a oferit cea mai buna prezentare a unor vinuri de la acest targ. Sincer, ar putea convinge pe oricine sa inceapa sa aprecieze vinul. Desigur prezentarea a fost sustinuta si de calitatea vinurilor.

Am degustat mai mult decat am scris si, ca si concluzie, as zice ca editiile viitoare ale targului Goodwine nu trebuiesc ratate. Imi pare rau ca l-am ratat pe Marc Dworkin si nu am avut ocazia sa-l salut.

Rolland’s Collection with David Lesage

November 23, 2012 Leave a comment

I was invited to attend a very interesting tasting organized by Le Manoir, the Romanian importer and distributor of Michel Rolland’s wines. I believe, or would like to believe, that any person that likes and consumes wine, or at least is interested in wine, heard about Michel Rolland. As debatable as his wines are perceived for being too extracted or too oaky, most of the prestigious Chateaux in Bordeaux employ his consulting services. He is definitely a great blender.

Last night Mr Rolland’s son-in-law, David Lesage, presented some of the wines included in the so-called Rolland’s Collection. I actually met Mr Lesage one year ago when he conducted another wine session presenting the same Collection but some from different vintages, session organized also by Le Manoir. His presentations are interesting and engaging, filled with technical details but also spiced up with “behind the curtain” information.

I found out last night that in Bordeaux it became mandatory to mention the alcohol level on the labels starting with the ’70s. If the alcohol level is above the appellation’s rules a producer might not be able to use the AOC for that particular vintage. Mr. Lesage mentioned how Michel Rolland had the initiative to measure the alcohol level in a legendary wine: 1947 Chateau Cheval Blanc and the result is just staggering: 14.8%. Should the 1970s regulations have been in place in 1947, Cheval Blanc would have not carried the Saint-Emilion Grand Cru appelation. Interesting information for a wine geek. So the blamed high alcohol levels we see often today on Bordeaux wines are not a first.

We started with a white wine made from a 1 ha plot from Lussac-Saint-Émilion, normally a red wine appellation, labelled as a Bordeaux Blanc and produced in a relative short supply. The wine is aged for up to 12 months in new French oak barrels. The use of new French oak barrels is a common thing to all wines in the Rolland’s Collection. Chateau La Grande Clotte 2009 is a white blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Gris, Semillon and up to 50% Muscadelle. The wine is opulent, both on the nose, as on the palate, oaky and elegant is the last word that comes to my mind when describing this wine. A wine that grabs your attention immediately but a bit too much for me.

Next two wines were 2002 and 2005 Chateau Le Bon Pasteur Pomerol served in parallel from two separate glasses to better compare them. The 2002 is completely open and ready to drink, showing pronounced aromas of green vegetables, green bell pepper and grass, (2002 was a rainy and hard to ripe vintage in Bordeaux) mixed with smoke, red fruits and a touch of minerals. Full bodied and filling the palate, fresh, structured, with assertive tannins. The wine is a pleasure to drink right now and has no problem holding further years. (90-91/100)

2005 Le Bon Pasteur is at a different stage. The wine feels tempered and restraint compared to 2002, but it has a depth and a complexity not matched by its older brother. Well structured, grippy tannins, fresh, ripe, full and hiding a lot of potential. Long and best to be left alone for now. (92/100)

Next wine was Le Defi de Fontenil, a 100% Merlot made only 5 or 6 times since 1999: 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2009 (if I understood correctly). Even though the property sits in Fronsac, the wine is labelled as a simple Vin de Table because INAO  did not approve the experiment started  in 2000 by Dany and Michel Rolland to place plastic sheeting on the soil between the rows of vines on some plots in Château Fontenil to prevent rain penetration during the month preceding the harvest. It is probably one of the most, if not the most expensive Vin de Table produced in France. The berries are fermented in open oak barrels custom made for the Chateau, while the temperature is controlled by the use of dry ice. Aged for 18 months in new French oak barrels, this is an opulent, super concentrated and hedonistic expression of Merlot. We had the 2005 vintage which is extremely youthful, oaky, concentrated, structured, with fine sweet and fully ripe tannins. Long finish with opulent aromas and flavors of plums, cassis and prunes. Too young to be fully enjoyed at the moment. Probably a guy on steroids would mirror the image of this wine. A style that has its own fans.

Being a Vin de Table the producer is not allowed to mentioned the vintage on the label, however on the back label it is specified differently this information: 2005 appears as 05 and similarly for other vintages.

The 2003 Remhoogte Bonne Nouvelle made in South Africa, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinotage shows a more classic line, in complete antitheses with Le Defi de Fontenil. It is a style that I like more and it is hard to stay away from its pleasant smoky profile. Really balanced and perfectly enjoyable. At almost 10 years of age it is youthful and capable to hold many more years.

Last two wines were both Malbec’s made in Argentina: Val de Flores 2004 from vineyards sitting at 1000 m altitude, and Yacochuya 2004 from vines sitting at over 2000 m altitude. The climates are completely different as the properties are separated by over 1000 km. Both wines show an incredible high alcohol level: 15% for Val de Flores and a staggering 16.5% for Yacochuya, both are powerful wines but show amazing balance, ripe sweet tannins, structure and concentration to hide the heat.  Yacochuya is massive and super-concentrated, probably one the most concentrated wines I tasted so far and yet silky on the palate. (91-92/100) for Val de Flores 2004 and (93-94/100) for Yacochuya 2004.

There was also a Spanish Tempranillo made in Toro: 2003 Campo Eliseo (Champs Elysées in French), a wine made together with Jacques Lurton. A modern expression of Tempranillo.

The tasting was fun and interesting and after so much alcohol I left home a happy man. Before this event I actually had the chance to taste 3 other great wines: 2001 Masi Mazzano (92-93/100), 2006 Renato Ratti Barolo Marcenasco showing already a good approachability (91/100) and a very young and woody 2009 Tignanello (91/100).

A new visit at Cramele Recas

March 15, 2012 2 comments

Philip Cox, one of the proprietors

It does seem to me that this starts to become a regular annual event. Just like about one year ago, I received an invitation to visit Recas Winery at the beginning of March. The same means of transportation: one hour by plane as they are situated 550 km NW from Bucharest, but this time the crowd invited was slightly different than in the past. If last year the guests were only people writing about wine in a professional or amateur way, this year’s group was far bigger (25 people) and far more varied. There were also journalists from financial and food publications, owners or part-owners of restaurants from Bucharest and people from marketing agencies. You could not get a more diversified group of people visiting a winery.

The purpose of our visit was to taste their new wines, with emphasize on the new Castel Huniade range. Castel Huniade replaces the old Castle Rock brand and it covers the range of 15-17 Ron wines. Just as the management mentioned, this seems to be the preferred range of wines for weddings and it is demanded by most of hotels, restaurants and other enterprises involved in the hospitality business.

Mr Philip Cox was, just like last year, our host during the visit. The visit started with a tour of the premises and detailed explanations about each step involved in the wine making process. It seems that Recas winery is among one of the few very successful producers in Romania as last year they faced more demand than their actual production for some of the wines. Their premium wines: the red Cuvee Uberland and the white Solo Quinta were real blockbusters, completely sold out way before the new vintage was even harvested. Mr Cox explained that currently they produce about 12 Millions L of wine per vintage and the aim is to increase to 18 Millions by 2015. Their exports increased significantly – 130%, last year they sold about 1 Million bottles in UK through Tesco. The exports are expected to increase from 40% of the total production to 50%. The most most notable success, that Mr Cox is very proud of, was the selection of Solo Quinta 2011 by Maze – a British Michelin star restaurant belonging to Gordon Ramsay – as one of their white house wines.

this label can be found in Tesco stores

Mr Cox was very transparent about the company’s strategy and mentioned they are always looking in advance what are the global fashionable trends in wines and they try to go along those lines. This is a fairly big winery,with around 950 ha under production, and they started to extend more with acquisitions in Minis, near Arad area.

The visit was structured to start with an initial tasting of the Castel Huniade range in the morning, lunch, visit in the vineyard and then a tasting of Cocosul and Sole range, Cuvee Uberland and Solo Quinta in the afternoon. Castel Huniade range comprises of 8 wines: whites are Riesling, Feteasca Regala, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, a rose and three reds, Merlot/Feteasca Neagra, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot/Pinot Noir. Many of these wines are off-dry and semi-sweet which I find fatiguing to enjoy, but it does seem to appeal to a vast majority of consumers. If I were to point some favorites of this range I would choose the only dry of the reds: the Cabernet Sauvignon and the off-dry Feteasca Regala from the whites.

Lunch consisted of a five course menu prepared by their own chef that heads the winery’s restaurant. The dishes were matched with foreign wines, the winery having a significant portfolio of imports consisting of top International brands: MASI, Robert Mondavi, Piccini, Planeta, Louis Latour and many others.

The menu: salmon carpaccio with salad and parmigiano / grilled shrimps with green beans soup / duck breast with Gorgonzola, nuts, quince jam, rice and baby carrots / beef steak with cheese and black truffles sauce, tagliatelle and endives / dessert: pastry with apple and vanilla sauce.

The wines served during the meal were: 2010 Nederburg Chardonnay South Africa, 2007 and 2010 Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc New Zeeland, 2009 Planeta Chardonnay, 2009 Cono Sur Carmenere Reserva, 2005 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley and for dessert we had, just like the previous visit, a sweet 2005 Traminer produced from vines that are no longer existent.

I particularly enjoyed 2009 Planeta Chardonnay: gold yellow color, expressive nose, elegant, with plenty of flavors of butter, vanilla, yellow flowers,ripe yellow fruit, honey, unctuous on the palate, an oxidative character, rich, with a long finish (91/100).

2005 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon was a perfect choice for the truffles infused sauce served with beef. The wine has a rich nose, with plenty of aromas of truffles, meat, peppery, but also generous ripe black fruits and bell pepper like typical Cabernet Sauvignon aromas, finely grained tannins, good structure and, considering the 15% alcohol, it feels pleasantly balanced, with a medium long spicy finish. It is however the type of wine that feels too much after 1 or 2 glasses. (91/100)

2005 Traminer does not have a label. The wine was made in very limited quantity, was never released on the market and nor will it be. It is gold colored, and has very nice aromas of kerosene, smoke, apricot, lime and pear, rose petals, a vibrant acidity that balances very well the natural sweetness and an intense long, lively finish. It goes very well with the dessert. (91/100)

After such a generous lunch, a walk into the vineyards was most welcomed. We also got the chance to take some nice pictures of the area that provides the grapes for Cuvee Uberland. The soil is rich in white clay and can be easily seen in the middle of the hill next to the winery.

Back at the winery, we started the next tasting. The former Cocosul brand was also re-branded and is now called Cocosul dintre vii. We tasted a Sauvignon Blanc, a Dry Muscat and a Pinot Noir from this range. I enjoyed the Dry Muscat the most. We tasted Sole Feteasca Regala and Chardonnay 2011, Solo Quinta 2011 and Cuvee Uberland 2009 and 2011. I confess liking more the 2011 Sole Chardonnay than the 2011 Solo Quinta (which contains up to 80% Chardonnay). The Sole Chardonnay comes along as a more serious wine to me, not having the Muscat like profile of Solo Quinta.

2009 Cuvee Uberland is a lot more different than last time I tasted it from barrel more than 1 year ago. Back then, it felt really big, with a body builder like profile and very ripe fruit flavors. Now, the wine seems to have lost a lot of its over-the-top muscles and metamorphosed into a more supple wine. It is however very young, it has a wide spectrum of flavors, but I find it hard to enjoy at the moment, due to a pronounced presence of its tannins on the finish.

2011 Cuvee Uberland from barrels has all the attributes of a wine situated in full transformation. The acidity is over the board, but the layers of fruit are there, the structure is in place and it seems to have a supple, but yet full body.

Cuvee Uberland’s style varied a lot from its inception. The first vintage produced – 2006, was supple and marching on elegance rather than power. Then, 2007 was powerful more than anything else, closer to an Amarone, as they employed a similar technique of drying the grapes ( cut and left on the vines for 3-4 weeks). The next vintages are more of a balancing between the two different styles, using with the same technique of drying the grapes. Cuvee Uberland was produced in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011. The 2010 vintage did not offer the right conditions to produce grapes of the quality required to make Cuvee Uberland.

For more pictures from this visit please click here.

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