Tasting Notes: ‘Uniquely Romanian’, presented by Richard Bost, AWE, 28 March 2018

My friend and colleague, Richard Bost, is a founder-member of my former wine club in Hextable, Kent. We were delighted to welcome Richard to Brockenhurst although it would have been nicer if the weather had been kinder as he has not explored the area before, c’est la vie. For once, we had a very poor turnout (a mere 16 people) so, for those who did not make it, you missed a cracking evening, good fun, very informative and visual, and some remarkable wines, both in quality and value. For me, quite an eye-opener………..

1)   Rhein Extra Brut Imperial NV – a traditional method (and hand-riddled) fizz from 85% Chardonnay and 15% Riesling, pale yellow-gold  with a lovely mousse and biscuit nose and a strong mineral finish, just off-dry with a touch of residual sugar. Richard says that their 100% Pinot Noir Rose Brut is even better but he could not get any in time! Imported, as most of these wines were tonight, by Halewood Wines and Spirits, this is available from Amazon Wines for, wait for it, £12.59.  Wonderful value.

2)   Floarea Soarelui Feteasca Regala Special Reserve 2015 – one of their indigenous grapes (Feteasca means “maiden”). Gorgeous greenish-yellow summery colour, highly aromatic with a nose of hedgerow flowers, touch of spice and a vague hint of muscat on the palate, quite a long mineral finish despite fairly low acidity, reminded me of the Argentinian Torrontes that many liked from Rob Caswell’s fist tasting. Incredible value at £7.56 a bottle from Amazon Wines.

3)   La Umbra Chardonnay 2016 – Another wine with beautiful green-yellow colour, this was a more straight-bat offering, typical slightly tropical (pineapple?) nose, very rounded on the palate, no oak at all and, I thought, rather lacking in character Pleasant but unremarkable. The price reflects this (Waitrose, £5.99/bottle)

4)   Theia Chardonnay 2014 (a.k.a. Sebes at Laithwaites) – I had tasted a previous vintage last year and this did not disappoint. The greenish-yellow theme  was continued in a very classy wine with a refined tropical and citrus nose. A light touch of oak on the palate with lovely balancing acidity and richness. Blended from a variety of base wines, some from stainless steel and some from various levels of new and old oak barriques.  Similar in style to the best of Californian Chardonnay (e.g. Matanzas Creek) and, yes, real class here. Excellent value at £10.99 from Drinksupermarket or Amazon Wine or Laithwaites but, sadly, not currently available, it seems. One to watch.

5)   Waitrose Romanian Pinot Noir 2016 – A very dark red for a PN, with a muted strawberry nose and, for me , a slightly stewed note on the nose. On the palate, cherries and strawberries , a very simple wine, well made but not a lot of character. Guys, it’s only £5.99 (or less on offer!!) so, for a Pinot Noir, pretty amazing. Drink it unsparingly with light food!

6)   Kronos Pinot Noir 2014 – also deep red but a very different animal; a typical strawberry and cherry nose, also a hint of vanilla, but with notes of spice and cinnamon on the palate as well, very well balanced and with good structure, it has spent 24 months in new French oak and this shows. Only 6,900 bottles made, available from Drinksupermarket for an amazing £9.69.

7)   Burenista Feteasca Neagra Shiraz 2016 – actually 35% Shiraz and 65% Feteasca Neagra, an almost black wine with typical rich red berry fruits on the aromatic nose, touch f “forest floor” which comes from the oak ageing. A very rich palate with a long finish, I found the tannins soft but a touch “dusty” which is unusual for Shiraz.  Good but not, for me, without faults (Laithwaites exclusive £9.49/bottle)

8)   Hyperion Feteasca Neagra 2013 – saving the best till last! Another almost black wine with a marvellous nose, spice, red and black hints of tar and, for me, doing a Jilly Goolden,  a hint of Cherry Blossom Tan Boot Polish. – just amazing. On the palate, lovely spicy red/black fruit, just a hint rustic and with gorgeous soft tannin and balancing acidity, lasting long in the mouth. It will not age long as the tannins are already mature, but a real revelation, and super value at £14.00 from Drinksupermarket,  more costly at Amazon Wines).

All in all, a very good evening and we shall certainly invite Richard back to Brockenhurst with, no doubt, another well-chosen flight of wines.

Notes by John Harris