Wine imports are now flowing into Romania from around the world, writes Catalin Paduraru
In Romania in the 1990s, (there is no point talking about a before), wine import were few.
Bucharest’s dignitaries and foreign companies looking to entertain had very little choice on the local market, if the idea to celebrate with wines from their countries crossed their minds.
There was the diplomatic duty-free favourite Peter Justesen, semi-official imports or a back-up plan... French wines! Due to their status of being natural speakers of the lingua franca of diplomacy, the French can also extend this privilege to another pleasure of the palate.
Now in 2007 I cannot think of a wine producing country that is not present in Romania, although there are some notable exceptions, such as Georgia, Israel and Lebanon.
USA has Beringer, with a discrete segment for restaurants and another for les grandes surfaces. Chile has Concha y Torro and a wine by Torres has emerged as the success of 2007, Misiones de Regno.
Argentina, an unknown quantity to Romanians, has on offer the eminent Malbec and the spectacular Torontes, known as Tamari. From South Africa there is also a buttery Chardonnay now available. From Australia, Penfolds and the ‘BINs’ of Lindemans are now available and, lately, Rosemount.
Closer to home
From Hungary, there is now representation everywhere of Gere (Kopar), St Andrea, Vilyan and Pauleczki (Tokaji). Many Romanians are now familiar with the value of a German Riesling or the mildness of a Dornfelder. Kendermanns, Weinhofer and Carl Reh are among the excellent wines in Romania from Germany, while Portugal, Spain and Greece share the whole range of prices and taste.
Italy seems to have been the pick of 2007. Now available are Birbone Toscano, Morelino di Scansano, Brusco dei Barbi, Rosso si Brunello de la Barbi, Romitorio, Ciacci & La Colombina, exceptional wines such as Col d`Orcia, Nearco and Olmaia sau Pelissero, Tiganello and wines from Antinori. Recently, Masi has entered on the market and Fossacolle, including their fantastic IGT. Vivalis vineyards with their original varieties Marzemino and Schiava are also available. What a display of noble taste! To celebrate with Italian wines it is always a pleasure.
France (how else could it be possible?) still has a substantial presence. Unfortunately, very few noble wines are available compared to what is waiting on the horizon. This is the buyer’s fault, but consumers could be driven away from French wines unless there is a fair representation. For me, among the greatest wine, I believe the majority are French.
With a little luck, the cold season will greet us with famous Chateaux such as Ausone, Cheval Blanc, Yquem, Margaux, Brown Cantenac, Beausejour Becot, Calon Segur, Talbot, Petit Cheval, Mouton Rothschild, Latour, Lafite Rothschild, Figeac, Cos d’Estournel, Haut Brion and Pape Clement.
Every wine producing country is on the start-up line in the race to enrapture the palate of the Romanian consumer and forge a strong presence among businesses and dignitaries.
New kid on the block
At the end of the list I have kept New Zealand. For me, the best Sauvignon Blanc is found there. This was hard to accept at first, but is now greeted with enthusiasm. But to score in the battle of the most sophisticated and elegant Pinot Noir is totally different and even more unexpected. From any top product, only a limited edition is created, and only 60 arrived in Bucharest of the Kauri Bay Pinot Noir. They have all gone. However there are a lot more bottles of Sauvignon Blanc.
Wines have surpassed their function as a consumer product and have now become the ambassadors and cultural attaches for understanding the spirit of every nation, and, at the same time, connect so many people from different meridians. To some, even the fact that a market contains wines from all over the world might seem trivial. Maybe us Romanians do not yet have wines recognised at a global level, but the foreign wine in our country means something: barriers have broken down.