Romania's long history of winemaking is down to its idyllic climate for vineyards. Now the 6th largest producer in Europe, it has persisted through centuries to the point where wines are now at their most available across the UK and rest of the world. Expertise in the cultivation of traditional French grape varieties such as Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, balances with its wide range of indigenous grapes, such as Feteasca Neagra (red) and Feteasca Regala (white).
There are a total of 8 wine regions in Romania, with inland Dealu Mare near Bucharest currently the most widely acclaimed. Its climate and terroir is warm and accommodating for many grapes and is able to cutlivate the difficult Pinot Noir to its best capacity. Evidence of grape growing in this region dates back to Dacian times. This is hardly a surprise, with sloping landscapes providing a variety of soils and allowing many grapes to find their perfect growing spot.
One of our favourite wineries in this region is Budureasca nestled in the Budearesca Valley in the Carpathian hills. Although one of the more recently established, it has quickly impressed the world and has expanded to have one of the country's largest wine cellars. Its unique layout of buildings for optimum care of vineyards and wines, as well as its balance of traditional methods and modern technology, ensures continous production of wine without losing, and in fact raising the bar of, high quality.
Vine in Flames Feteasca Regala(13% £10.96) uses this flagship Romanian white grape which is the result of a natural crossing between Grasa and Feteasca Alba varieties. Its popularity is down to its versatile and characterful nature, able to impart different aromas and flavours dependent on its production.
This wine ensures grapes are at optimum aroma and mineral concentration on harvest, with the wine left on its lees and careful, continuous batonage to achieve structure and softness. Pale straw in colour, it shows clear acidity and aromas of quince jam which fall on to the palate as ripe quince and refreshing minerality. Try with fish and seafood dishes, grilled vegetables and mushrooms.
Vine in Flames Pinot Noir (13.5% £11.35) continues Romania's good reputation for producing satisfyingly complex yet easily quaffable Pinot Noir wines. Hand harvesting with de-stemming but no crushing, ensure optimum fruity characteristics are retained. Most of the wine is unoaked, with just 2% allowed to mature in oak barrels for 6 months before blending to add fine structure.
This medium-light bodied wine presents with a ruby colour. It has beautifully soft tannins which provide a lovely, long finish. Complex aromas of raspberry, red cherry, black cherry and a nuance of spice provide robust flavour on the palate, balancing well with its soft texture. Suitable for pairing with a range of vegetarian dishes as it allows the vegetable flavours to shine through without overpowering, or pair with pork, lamb, duck or wild game.
Vine in Flames Merlot (14.5% £12.45) provides typical Dealu Mare lusciousness to this grape variety, one of the most widely planted in the region, with intense fruit and excellent balance. To achieve this, the grapes undergo malolactic fermentation for up to 20 days before 70% of the wine is matured in three-year-old American and Romanian oak barrels for up to 5 months before blending.
The wine created is dark red in appearance, showing ripe plum and subtle spice on the nose turning into complex, bold fruit flavours in the mouth with beautifully soft tannins giving this wine a smooth and velvety finish. Try pairing with barbecued meat or rich pasta sauces.