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WORLD OF BACCHUS: The Romanian Renaissance

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Following the turbulent revolution in 1989, Romanian viticulture was for a while in a downward spiral. During the communist era, many vineyards were nationalised and organised into collective wineries, to the detriment of the wine industry. When land was restored to former owners, as many either fled or expired or became untraceable, a Burgundy-like labyrinth of tiny plots of vineyards emerged, posing another challenge. The 1990s was a particularly difficult decade for Romanian wine.
But this is a country with a glorious history of wine. As one of the most ancient wine-producing countries in Europe, pre-Roman Dacia was said to possess such an abundance of vineyards that, as per legend, Dionysus was born in modern day Dobruja, shared by Romania and Bulgaria. Dacian wines were so attractive that the land was repeatedly invaded, forcing king Burebista, on his high priest Deceneu’s advice, took the poison pill of destroying vineyards in Dacia. As a Roman province, Dacia Felix (literally: wealthy Dacia) was an important granary of the empire, and continued to produce quality wine.
One of the 15 largest (by volume) wine-producing countries in the world, Romania is experiencing a viticultural Renaissance in the 21st century. After becoming a full-member of the EU in 2007, attracted by the country’s affordable vineyard prices and development opportunities, foreign investment began to flow in, providing much needed capital, facilities and equipment. Even before joining the EU, the country had spent years on reviewing and re-structuring its wine industry, putting in place new laws governing wine classification, production and labelling etc.
With a remarkably large portfolio of grape varieties – thanks to its historical connections with countries such as Germany and France – and different growing conditions stretching from the Carpathian foothills north of Bucharest and the hills of Transylvania in central Romania to the Black Sea coast in the southeast, Romania has good potential to restore its former status as a producer of quality wine.

Sable Noble Sauvignon Blanc – Chardonnay – Pinot Gris – Riesling Italian 2011

An imaginative blend of 30% Chardonnay, 30% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Pinot Gris and 10% Riesling Italian [sic]. So named in order to differentiate from Rhine Riesling, Riesling Italian was introduced to ancient Dacia by the Romans. The Romanian stock might be related to Welschriesling, whose origin remains shrouded in mystery.
Bright lemon-yellow with glossy golden reflex, the tropical nose offers lime, apricot, guava, mangosteen and passion fruit. Buttressed by pulsating acidity and steely minerality, the spicy palate delivers pomelo, grapefruit, starfruit, jackfruit and sweet ginger. Medium-bodied at 14%, the laser-focused entry continues through a concentrated mid-palate, leading to a cleansing finish.

Sable Noble Fetească Neagră – Merlot – Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

An inventive blend of 50% Fetească Neagră, 30% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine combines Romania’s national red variety with Left Bank Bordeaux, resulting in an interesting wine which resembles a Pomerol or Bolgheri.
Inky garnet with Burgundy-cardinal rim, the fragrant nose presents cassis, blackberry, black cherry, damson, liquorice and oaky vanilla. Supported by lively acidity and juicy tannins, the copious palate provides red cherry, prune, cocoa, Coffea Arabica, vanilla spice and sandalwood. Medium-full bodied at 13%, the fruity entry evolves into an aromatic mid-palate, leading to an energetic finish.

To discover the hidden treasures of Romania, contact Ms Emily Lam of Goya HK Ltd; W: www.goyahk.com; E: emilylam@goyahk.com; T: +852 2377 9099

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