Happy Hallo-Wine! We have lots of treats that are perfect for Halloween fun, including a fantastic range of themed wines and spirits from Romania, home of the heart of spooky culture; Transylvania.
The East European country has a wine making history dating back 4000 years, with luscious native grapes and traditional production combining with a new, modern upsurge following the re-establishment of the commercial wine industry after a 40 year hiatus during the Communist era.
Greek and Roman influence is evident, with a new wave of Romanian wine makers emerging after the millennium bringing their experience from Western Europe, the USA and Australia to fundamentally reshape the industry to become new stars of the Old World.
GRAPES AND WINES
Widespread replantation of vineyards has occurred, with popular international varieties and historic local varieties. The soft texture and fruit-forward character of Merlot gains added complexity with Castellum Dracula (13.5% £15.20). A bouquet full of ripe black cherries, plums, notes of leather, raisins and just a touch of smoke precedes a palate that brings a range of ripe and dried fruit flavours, excellent tannins and satisfying spice on the finish.
The world popular Cabernet Sauvignon grape shows its full potential for ageing and developing a multitude of secondary flavours and aromas with Principe Dracula (14% £19.50), matured in Romanian oak barriques. Impressive aromas of blueberry, dried plums and vanilla flow on to a palate that evolves from raspberry to fully ripe black cherry, leading to complex flavours of tobacco, coffee and cinnamon on the long finish. Dominion Dracula (14% £16.30) is aged in French-Romanian barrels, with fruity aromas of ripe cherry, vanilla and chocolate preceding a full, well-balanced palate, with elegant tannins, flavours of red fruit and dark chocolate, and a persistent finish.
Historic local varieties have been reinvigorated with new plantings. Feteasca Neagra translates as The Black Maiden, known for its deep, black colour and intensity. A flagship grape grown across the country, it produces high alcohol, distinctive, oak-friendly wines, typically suitable for long bottle ageing. Dracula 555 (14.5% £22.90) is aged in Romanian oak barrels and has a unique character of dry plums, wild berries and spices with vanilla hints and velvety texture. Dominion Dracula (13.5% £16.30) is an intense red with a bouquet of black pepper spice, vanilla, quince and ripe red fruit. Full texture, soft tannins, blackberries and blueberries show in the mouth.
Feteasca Alba, translated as The White Maiden, is a white clonal variation of Feteasca Neagra, today cultivated in most of the regions of the country. It requires special care during fermentation due to its ease of oxidisation, but with this care it becomes a sublimely delicate wine of citrus, flowers and soft orchard fruit. Castellum Dracula (12.5% £13.80) is an excellent example, with fresh aromas of citrus and plum tree flowers preceding a fresh and crispy palate showing luscious, sweet pomelo and apricot.
Tamaioasa Romaneasca, or Romanian Incense, is named for its intense aromatics. A Muscat variety that originated in Ancient Greece, it has been cultivated in Romania for at least two millennia. Floral bouquets tend to dominate, with a balance of orchard and tropical fruit. Principe Dracula (12.5% £19.50) is a semi-sweet example, nodding towards a dessert wine in intensity. Delicious honey sweetness and richness is balanced by good acidity, with aromas of roses, basil and yellow melon adding to the experience.
Negru de Dragasani is, by definition, a black wine grape originating from that very region in the 1990s. Known for producing fresh and fruity wines suitable for oak and bottle ageing, it shows lots of dark berry fruit and spice. Legend Of Dracula (13% £13.60) is aged in French oak for 6 months, bringing intense aromas of black cherries, forest fruit and spice, before a palate of strength, balance and intense fruit.
Plum brandy has always been a forte of Romania, with an unofficial title as the country's national spirit. The local making of intense, strong plum spirit is a tradition dating back to medieval times. Often aged in oak or Mulberry wood barrels for up to ten years, it is still locally distilled, with the addition of commercial, premium production for international sale with the addition of other fruit tipples.
At a whopping 50% abv, our examples are perfect to drink over ice or add fruit intensity to party cocktails. Spirit of Dracula (50cl) provide both Apple and Plum spirits, deeply infused due to a traditional double-distilling technique and ageing in wooden casks. This same quality technique is used for Immortal Plum Brandy, available in full sized 50cl bottles or fun 5cl miniatures in their very own coffin! This natural spirit is rich in ripe plum fruitiness, with a lingering, balanced finish.