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Grape expectations

New fine wines and spirits merchant Enoteca 1900 aims to showcase a blend of modern and classic varieties to a select clientele in the city’s cultural heartland

October 2010 - From the Print Edition

4 Photos
A young women’s eyes move across the rows of bottles in new store Enoteca 1900, staring at the labels of lovingly-designed Italian and French varieties, resplendent in the coded terminology of grapes and regions
“I need something red,” she says, “or maybe something white, I’m not sure exactly.”
Swiss manager Raphael Magnenat, at ease speaking English, French, Romanian or German, quizzes the customer.
“For a friend?”
“For a meal?”
“What kind of pasta?”
“It has cheese.”
Scouting the shelves with his co-manager, he clearly outlines the tastes and ranges of the display, including Chanson, Langlois Chateau, Piemonte wine Gaja and Cartizze, dazzling the customer. She chooses one bottle - enthused - but there is a problem.
“Do you have anything smaller?” she asks.
Most of us know nothing about wine beyond a few maxims - red goes with meat, white goes with fish, sweet wine is - on the whole - pretty disgusting and can - at best - suit a dessert. Choice tends to come down to settling within a price range, therefore any guidance is welcome and this new store has been born from passion for the grape and a willingness to communicate quality.
“We aim to sell what we like, not necessarily what is the best seller,” says the manager.
After moving from Switzerland to Romania in 2000 looking for adventure, Magnenat helped co-found Bucharest delicatessen Delicateria Traiteur, before branching out on his own as local dealer of Champagne brand Bollinger.
With a Romanian partner, he has now opened Enoteca 1900, one minute’s walk from the Hilton. The retailer is neighbour to luxury wine and foie gras merchant Comtesse du Barry - probably the store’s closest rival in the city - and together they offer a hub for Bucharest’s wine lovers.
Also on sale are cognacs, sambuca and grappa and Romanian wines from the Dragasani region – including a white cuvee from Price Stirbey and a unique Sauvignonasse - a range Magnenat intends to expand.
One in-store delight is the 30 kilogramme and nine-litre ‘Salmanazar’ Bollinger. Setting back a shopper for a cool 1,000 Euro [4,500 RON], this mega-bottle is the ultimate baptismal present for the ultimate baby. For the faint-hearted there are six-litre and three-litre Champagnes, while a standard bottle of special cuvee Bolly costs around 50 Euro.

Michael Bird

Enoteca 1900
Fine wines and spirits
1 Strada Constantin Esarcu

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