Tasting the wines of Romania

These notes accompany a in-depth feature on Romania. For profiles of all of these estates please see Regional report: Romania, land of change and promise.



La Fontana Vechia 2008
Slightly oily, pear drop aromas, a touch of pear skin grip. Palate is quite fresh with a green apple bite. 85/100. Direct Wines

La Cittadela Pinot Gris 2008
Nice fresh nose, with a touch of herbal and floral quality to quite bright fruit. Pear droppy again. The palate has good freshness and plenty of peachy and pear-skin fruit. Long and flavourful. 86/100. Direct Wines/Laithwaites

Byzantyum Blanc de Transylvania 2008
Blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Rhine Riesling. Fresh if slightly neutral, leading onto a palate with juicy citrus and a touch of melon. 85/100.

Byzantyum Sauvignon Blanc 2008
From Transylvanian fruit. Little leafy notes to citrus, with lots of lemon beneath. On the palate it has a slightly disappointing neutrality, the Sauvignon character not singing through, but a general lemony character and a bit of phenolic harshness. 84/100

Byzantyum Chardonnay 2008
From Transylvanian fruit. Oak is nicely mealy and rich, with a touch of vanilla and a certain nuttiness. White fruit on the palate, quite full-bodied with a bit of texture and melon and apple fruit, and a straightforward but tangy, juicy finish. 85/100

Prahova Valley Reserve Chardonnay 2008
French oak touches of light toast and nuttiness. A little Cox’s pippin nuttiness and apple, with the palate having nice, sweet fruit and slightly more concentration that the young vines Byzantyum. 86/100

Scutra Vineyard Viognier Chardonnay 2008
Fairly dominated by oaky aromas at this stage, with vanilla and gentle toast, and a little bit of apricotty Viognier character coming through (60% Viognier). Tangy, with a touch of orangy zest and good concentration, finishing with a zesty life. 87/100


Sainsbury’s Romanian Pinot Noir
Not vintage dated, but this is from the 2007 vintage. Slightly herbal quality, touch of earthy Pinot character. The palate has a fairly smooth character, with again some herbal character, some spice and a little residual sweetness just turning the finish a touch jammy. 85/100

Colina Pinot Noir 2008
Nicely warming, ripe berry fruit, with a hint of black cherry and gentle herbal notes. The palate has a nice hint of fleshiness and though a still find this a touch sweet, a bit of spice and tannic grip keep it fresh. Good value for Pinot. 86/100. Direct Wines/Laithwaites £6.11

Prahova Valley Reserve Pinot Noir 2008
A little bit of fudge and some lightly leafy, earthy notes. The palate has nice fruit: lots of black berries and a little juicy cherry, and again it is set against a touch of sweetness here (over sweetness?) but quite fine in the finish. 86/100. Budgens

La Catina Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008
Nice sense of concentration and a sheen of more cedary, quite sophisticated wood and good fruit. The palate has plenty of strawberry fruit and natural, unforced sweetness. 87/100

Ceptura Vineyard Merlot 2008
Slightly medicinal edge to cherry and red plum fruit. The palate has good fruit and quite a full texture, with plenty of spice and quite good fruit, just a touch of sweetness in the finish. 85/100

Adrian Vineyard Shiraz Merlot 2008
60% Shiraz. Merlot added as the Shiraz (first crop) was a little thin, so merlot to add flesh. Good, bright, raspberry and bright black pastille fruit nose, with quite a lively palate too. The Merlot does add some flesh, but it is not a complex or long wine, however it retains good freshness and is very promising. 86/100.

Ceptura Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Nice Cabernet character here, with a touch of olive and pleasant greenness to good blackcurrant fruit. Natural fruit sweetness on the palate too, it is not hugely long, but it has a fine tannins and really nice balance. 87/100 Byzantyum Rosso di Valachia 2007
40% Feteasca Neagra, 40% Pinot Noir and 20% Merlot. Big, ripe, rich nose, with plenty of sweet black fruit on the palate. Mouth-filling spice and plenty of rich berry sweetness. Long and grippy, this is impressive. 87/100 Byzantyum Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Slightly green note, a touch resinous, but a pure, cassis quality comes through showing good varietal character. Nice spicy black-fruited palate of good quality. 86/100.

The Monastery Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Slightly vague nose, with a touch of green character and decent fruit. On the palate fruity and straightforward, but with overdosed residual sugar leaving it spicy, fruity but a touch cloying. 84/100. £5.90 Direct Wines/Laithwaites

Hyperion Feteasca Negra 2007
Black olives and a touch of dried fruit: fig and prune, with a little paintboxy, inky character. On the palate the sweetness of the fruit is good, filling the mouth and just showing a little spicy, vanilla oak that is rather prominent, but adds a mellow quality to quite a long finish. 87/100.

Hyperion Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Lovely chocolate and blackcurrant fruit, with real plushness and richness. Palate seems to be dry though there is 6g/l of sugar here, but the acidity, concentration of fruit and the long, spicy finish is lovely. 88/100

x to return to our in-depth feature on Romania



Muscat de Frontignan 2008
This old vines Muscat covers around one and a half hectares, but the Anghels have taken cuttings and created more plants to reach 15 hectares eventually. From 100-year-old vines, the wine has a pink tinge from the skins with a little maceration. 2008 was a very ripe year, so there is 25g/l residual sugar in this wine. Nice strawberry fruit and a little floral fragrance. Quite dry at first, with the sweetness in the background just adding a pleasing, mouth-filling weight whilst the acid is good. 87/100

Domeniul Coroanei Tamaioasa Romaneasca 2008
Lovely aromatics, a bit of passionfruit and something slightly waxy, like Sharon fruit or a even a touch of tangerine. The palate is rich and full of clean, white fruit character. Good concentration and a long, tangy finish showing some minerality. 13.5%. 88/100


2008 Merlot barrel sample
Has been in barrel 8 months. Nicely nutty, slightly roasted quality of oak over dense red fruit aromas. The palate has plenty of barrel spice and tannin, but there’s a nice dark and juicy edge to the fruit. The finish is mostly about spice and tannin, but this has a certain harmony and concentration for such young vines. 87/100

Domeniul Coroanei Merlot 2007
First crop from a 2005 vineyard. One year in new barrels. Quite a fragrant, Sandalwood and incense nose, with some kirsch-like cherry fruit and a bit of peppery spice. The palate has a cool, very slightly herbal character and lots of creamy, oaky spice. 87/100

Feteasca Neagra 2008 barrel sample
All in French oak barriques, new and second use, this has a deep, fragrant coffee nose, with lots of smoky oak and quite cherry-like, paintboxy notes that are typically Feteasca Neagra. Cold maceration – make it like a Cabernet – Finishes malolactic in stainless steel. The palate has a creaminess, with a lovely bright berry and cherry fruitiness and lots of creamy, coffee quality in the finish. 88/100.

Shiraz 2008 – barrel sample, carbonic maceration
Very bright, lilac-edged purple colour. Herbal nose, with some vegetative notes and a certain nuttiness. The palate is quite nice with a creaminess. 86/100

Shiraz 2008 – barrel sample, traditional fermentation
In barrel since October. Adds a lot of leafy, quite resinous quality. The palate has a nutty oak quality. The palate is quite savoury and has a nice lift of acidity. Falls rather short but a bit of weight and a cherryish lift. 87/100

Marselan 2008 – barrel sample
Again, something a little bit herbal, with a nutty edge to it and a bit of crunch to the berry fruit. The palate has a touch of plasticene resinous quality from lots of oak and young fruit, but it is bright and focused with a red liquorice bite and shows obvious potential. 87/100

Pinot Noir 2008
No barrels for this cuvée. Slightly paintboxy, breezy and light quality. Some nice herbal notes and plenty of sweet fruit turning quite chocolaty and rich in the finish. Stylish. 87/100.

Pinot Noir 2008
The main line, with barrel ageing. There’s a slick vanilla overlay to this on the nose, with a touch of cappuccino. The palate has nice balance, and more smoothness and chocolaty, spicy weight than the little brother, but I think this will show better and fruit will step up to the oak as vines age. 88/100.

Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
First harvest of Cabernet. Nice little herbal quality, and a touch of olive and slightly green Cabernet fruit, but very attractive. The palate has a creaminess of texture and a smooth, juicy black fruit mid-palate. This is showing well, with the oak quite obvious, but needs time to settle a little perhaps. 88/100

Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 from tank
This is a selection of lots and barrels, that has a very aromatic nose, with lots of exotic incense and spices and seems just a touch riper. The palate has that creaminess again, with a little bit of espresso and a smooth juiciness. Good acidity and a fine balance and length. 89/100

x to return to 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

x to return to our in-depth feature on Romania



Frunza Pinot Grigio 2008
Nicely aromatic, with pleasant pear and apple, with a touch of nettle. Quite soft and juicy on the palate, very easy to quaff, with a gentle lemony finish. 85/100

Mustoasa Limited Release 2008
Lightly sherbetty, with a touch of white fruits. The palate has a brightness and apple character and a nice fresh finish. Simple but tasty. 85/100

“V” Riesling, The legend of Transylvanian 2008
Italian Riesling. Apple-fresh nose, with a little apple skin waxiness. The palate has a sour apple and lemony character, but it falls slightly flat, finishing with some citrus. 84/100

Feteasca Regala Sole 2008
Barrel fermented, but not aged in wood. Picked in three stages – over, under and perfectly ripe. Nicely creamy nose, with a cashew and almond note. The palate has lovely freshness and a hint of grapefruit and lemon zest that it really zingy, finishing with lots of sherbetty dazzle against a little residual sugar. Delicious and different. 87/100

Chardonnay Sole 2008
No malolactic here and three or four months in barrique. Again a nicely nutty nose, with very good fruit on the palate, with lots of apple and pear, and a hint of hazelnut, into a long finish touched by coffee but with fine acidity. 88/100

Solo Quinta Cuvee 2008
Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Feteasca Regala and Cabernet Sauvignon. Interesting, herb and lime-spiked nose, with lots of crunch and zest. The palate has quite a rich texture, with very juicy acidity and lemon pith dryness, but the zing and zest of the blend really pushes through. 88/100


Frunza Rosé 2008
Screwcap. Merlot, with a little Feteasca Negra and 5% Muscat. A tiny bit of sulphur, with fine herbal notes and a little raspberry fruit. The palate has real sweetness (though only 5.7g/l residual sugar) but the fruit is good, with a bit of zip and zing. 86/100


Terra Dacia Pinot Noir 2008
A little sulphur, then a slightly bracken quality and nice red fruit. On the palate it has nice silky texture and smoothness, with a creamy strawberry fruit and comes through with good balance and enough grip to add some drama and interest. 86/100

Merlot La Puttered 2008
Nice creamy oak, with a touch of briar and good raspberry and strawberry fruit. The palate is smooth, creamy and juicy, with plenty of ripe, red berry fruits but again the structure is subtle but there, adding some grip and freshness with good acidity. 86/100

Feteasca Negra/Merlot 2008
Has that schisty, dry, cherry and slightly liquoricy quality. Lovely clean and ripe fruit. The palate has that backstop of liquorice and dark, edgy tannin, but the cherry and plum fruit fills in. Good balance and a nice, long finish. 87/100

Rooster Syrah 2008
This has a nice peppery, black fruited Syrah character, with plenty of juicy fruit on the palate, but there’s a nice stripe of tannin and lovely chocolaty richness that fills in on the finish. Long and savoury, and showing some real character. 87/100

Cuvee Uberland 2006
Very careful grape selection. A little herbal lift to this, with good black fruit coming through and cedary notes. The palate has lovely cherry fruit and a creaminess and dense quality with really good tannins, a touch of fudge and a dense finish. 89/100

Cuvee Uberland 2007
Amarone style, with canes cut and grapes left to dry on the vine. Currant, prune and raspberry notes, very Amarone style. The palate has good fruit – lovely silky chocolate and that bite of cherry into a powerful but coffee-ish finish. Fabulous and crazy. 90/100

Cabernet Sauvignon La Putere 2008
A touch of eucalyptus and menthol, with ripe blackcurrant fruit coming through. The palate has a big, dry structure but it is relatively light-bodied, finishing crisply. 86/100

x to return to our in-depth feature on Romania

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *