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Romanian tasting notes

© 2009 Tom Cannavan

These notes accompany our in-depth feature on Romania.



Castel Starmina Tamaioasa Romaneasca Dulce 2008
Harvested a little late, but 15% potential alcohol vinified to only 11% gives almost 60g/l of residual sugar. Lovely nose is very delicate and floral, with very ripe apple and pear aromas. The palate has delicious sweetness, with a little waxiness and very ripe Ogen melon. Long and delightfully fresh. 87/100. Not in UK.

Terasse Danubiane Sevruga Riesling 2008
Italian Riesling, 13% alcohol, all produced locally. Fairly neutral nose, with a little apple and waxy melon rind notes. The palate is very full-bodied and rich, which along with the ripe fruit gives sensation of being sweeter than its 3.8% residual sugar. Very flavoursome and easy to drink, with a citrussy tang to the finish. 84/100.

Castel Starmina Riesling 2008
Italian Riesling planted in 1980s. Lots of powdery character, with lemon rind and floral touches. Seems slightly phenolic, with again a fruit-skin tang and plenty of lemon against a slight sweetness. 86/100

Terasse Danubiane Cuvee D'Excellence Riesling 2007
A much cooler, slightly leafier, lime and nettle-streaked nose. The palate has just a tiny bit of roundness from 10% barrique fermentation, but there's an inherent finesse and crispness to this - better parcels and different vintage? - and a beautifully delineated finish. 89/100

Terasse Danubiane Beluga Sauvignon Blanc 2008
Very good, expressive Sauvignon nose, with a touch of musky character and plenty of elderflower and gooseberry. The palate has a lovely lift too, with a bit of herbaceousness and plenty of Sauvignon snap and zing. A really good effort. 87/100

Castel Starmina Sauvignon Blanc 2008
Slightly less impressive aromatically, with a less decisive signature. The mouthfeel of this is good, with a crisp, quite fine minerality. More of a food wine than the Beluga, with a subtle charm. 87/100

Terasse Danubiane Cuvee D'Excellence Sauvignon Blanc 2007
Nicely creamy, with a touch of smoky, honeyed, character. Quite an unctuous fruit quality. The palate is quite fruity and has lots of spicy character, good weight and a bit of concentration. 87/100


Rozé de Vanju Mare 2008
40% Pinot Noir, 40% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. Delicate salmon pink. A touch of rose-hip and bright, bubblegummy cherry. Six grammes of residual sugar makes this a touch sweet on the palate, with the fruit a little sherbetty and raspberry-ish, finishing with nice clarity. Juicy and good quality, if a little sweet for food friendliness. 85/100. Direct Wines has reserved 12,000 bottles of this rosé.


Next three reds from Starmina

Negru de Dragasani 2008
Thirty percent green harvest. Fresh, youthful cherry and lightly inky aromas. Quite a juicy, fresh, crunchy-fruited palate. Develops a nice strawberry creaminess. Light chilled this would be delicious. 85/100

Castel Starmina Merlot 2008
Tank sample. Very oaky, almost rubbery notes from a lot of oak influence at this stage. Tough to judge. Palate comes through with a much juicier, fleshier character. Good quality here once it settles down. 86/100

Terasse Danubiane Prince Mircea Merlot 2007
All aged in French oak barriques. Big, sweetish, nicely vanillin and smoky nose, but has a touch of roasted meats and coffee adding drama and depth. Hints of mint and eucalyptus. Quite complex. The palate has a lovely fruit sweetness, with a mouth-filling background of minty oak and lots of sourness to the cherry acidity. Finishes dry and tannic, but will soften. Impressive. 89/100

Next group from Samburesti

Castel Bolovanu Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Six months in barrique and nine months in bottle before coming to market. Attractive nose, the oak quite vanillin and rich, with a hint of black olive. Solid fruit beneath is expressively Cabernet, with a touch of green but good, rich, black fruit aromas. He palate has a touch of leather and spice, and a savoury, quite earthy appeal. Food friendly and moreish. 86/100

Castel Bolovanu Soare Cabernet Sauvignon 2003
Sixteen months in barrique, only 25,000 bottles are produced. Quite a lot of age to the colour, with lots of lovely cedar and pencil shaving, a bloody, meaty undertow and a hint of minty, chocolaty richness rumbling beneath. The palate has good depth and lots of substance. The fruit is solid through the mid-palate, and though perhaps it falls away slightly, in terms of fruit, very impressive and delivers lots for the money. 88/100

Next group from Dealu Mare

Villa Zorilor Feteasca Neagra 2007
Six months in wood. 15-20% fermented in new barriques. Quite a light ruby colour, but the nose is deep and sonorous, with a bit of cherry and red plum brightness, and a vanillin background. The palate has spice and a nice core of acidity that runs through; the highish acid of this grape really keeps things fresh. 87/100

Villa Zorilor Feteasca Neagra Gran Reserva 'Swallowtail' 2006
18 months in barriques and minimum 12 months in bottle for Gran Reserva. Twelve months in French oak, six in Hungarian. Quite smoky and aromatic with a big plummy core of fruit. Little notes of tobacco, woodsmoke and coffee add to the complexity. On the palate there's a big, bloody, gamy depth to this, the Feteasca Negra adapting to a fuller, but still fresh, fleshy character. Tannins are soft and resolved, but balance is good. 89/100

Villa Zorilor Merlot 2007
A touch rubbery and reductive at first, but some red berry fruit comes through. On the palate there's a quite a plush mouth-feel, with silky tannins and good length. Not enormously complex, but very rounded, svelte and harmonious. 86/100

Villa Zorilor Merlot Prince Matei Reserva 2006
A touch of balsamic quality, with a little cooked edge to the prune and plum fruit, but deep and muscular with spices too. The fruit is very sweet on the palate - plenty of depth of fruit here, very fleshy and ripe, but a really good bite of sour-edged Italianate acidity. Lovely length and balance in a very good Merlot that is serious and sinewy. 90/100

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