In 2006, when Ellen and I were in Romania, this is how we bought wine. Sec or Demi-Sec. Those were the options at the co-op in Suceava, and I remember thinking that the wine wasn’t bad. It was certainly better than what we’d been drinking in bottles, and it was fresh. But, unlike Bulgaria–where Ellen and I had just visited, after spending time there in ’96, years before we met–Romania was still producing wines that didn’t seem qualified for export. Bulgaria’s wine industry had exploded in the past ten years; we couldn’t believe the variety and quality of wines we could get. In Romania–blame Ceausescu–if such a market was in existence, we hadn’t been able to find it. And so, five years later, I was delighted to attend the “Select Wines of Romania,” a tasting downtown featuring six Romanian Wineries.
In 2006, my travels took me from Bucharest up along the Carpathians and nowhere near the wine regions of the country. Yet, located on the same latitudes as France, Romania claims sixth in the world as a wine producer, even if only a small fraction is exported. With seven wine regions and a cluster of native varietals, Romania, looking to stage its presence as a wine producer, also plants international varieties.
At the tasting, I focused on two wines, both native varietals and both hyper high in acidity. The others–reds, whites, and rosés–were too big for my taste, but that doesn’t mean they were terrible wines.
Located between the Black Sea and the Danube, in the SE region of Dobrogea, sits DOC Murfatlar, home to the winery of the same name. With 8,200 acres under vine, Murfatlar was the largest winery in attendance that afternoon, and their Trei Hectare Feteasca Neagra 2006 showed greater acidity than any of the other wines made from the same native grape–(Feteasca Neagra). Ruby with an aged ring of garnet, at 12.5%, the Trei Hectare is earthy, funky, and fruity, with a searing acidity that compliments the wines light bodied essence. Imported by Bozic Importers, the wine might be available in New York, but winemaker Alexandru Canariov wasn’t sure yet.
Made from the other red Romanian varietal that’s known to produce light, fruity wines–Babeasca Neagra –Senator Glia Babeasca Neagra 2008–comes from the region Insuratei. Also in close proximity to the Black Sea, its the region’s sandy soil, I was told, that yields wines with such high acidity. The Glia is floral, smoky, and spicy on the nose, with rocket high acidity and light tannins, and red fruit that joins the spice for a sassy finish. Unfortunately, it’s not yet available in the States, but I hope to see more from Romania in the immediate future.