If anyone needs convincing that Romania has the potential to grow top quality grapes and make great wines this is the place to go. The Cabernet Sauvignon wines we tasted at Vinarte’s Castel Bolovani winery were up there with the best.
Vinarte was founded 17 years ago and began planting vines shortly after that. We began our visit in the vineyards (definitely the best place to start) under the guidance of winemaker Justin Uruco. He had a beautifully situated site with gently sloping ground and an ideal south west exposition. The vine plantings do justice to the land and the vines are very carefully tended. They cover 60 hectares at altitudes of 200-300 metres. Unsurprisingly, given these origins, the wines are of very high quality.
In the winery we were offered a barrel tasting of 2013 Cabernets and learned much from a comparison of the same wine aged in Romanian oak (toasty, with pencil shaving notes) and French oak (vanilla highlights).
At this winery they concentrate on the production of two wines – both Cabernet Sauvignon – a second wine called Castel Bolovanu and the flagship wine, Soare.
We tasted 2011 Castel Bolovanu which showed intense black fruit – black cherries and damsons, with well integrated spicy oak and vanilla. Next up was Soare 2009: delicious ripe black fruit with hints of dried fruit; beautifully balanced with a long finish.
As we tasted I thought of the wine buyers in Bordeaux tasting the 2014 vintage and preparing to pay up to 200 Euros a bottle for unfinished wines. More fool them; in Romania they could have something just as good and ready to drink for 12 Euros.