There is a time for treating yourself, to finally buying wine you read about or had your eye on for a while but there are also times, many of them in fact when you want to spend less but still be sure you are getting a good bottle of wine.
One way to do this is to look at new and lesser-known wine regions and this is where your Independent Wine Merchants comes in. Despite what many may think, large supermarkets are not always the best place to get great value wines. Up against the bigger players, Independents wine merchants offer something different, something niche. To do this they will source small-batch, nuanced wines from less well-known producers. They will have trained staff on hand to help you choose within your budget and assist you in exploring lesser-known regions where there is often great quality, value and interest to be had.
Romania is one such country. Lying at the same latitude as France, it has a greater area of vineyard than any Eastern European country and is now increasingly showing the world what it can do in terms of premium wine production.
Known for its extensive number of indigenous grape varieties like white Fetească, Romanian Grasă and Tămâioasă, Romania also produces European varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. With the main export markets being Europe and China, accessibility to and growing familiarity with Romanian wines has become much easier and consequently, they now have quite a following and are recognised as offering great value.
Neighbouring Moldova also has a well-established wine industry. Grape seed imprints found dating back to 2800 BC show that at that time, grapes were already being cultivated. Established trading links with the Greeks and Romans strongly influenced the intense development of the grape-growing and wine-making.
When the region became a province of the Russian Empire, the wine industry flourished with wine production reaching 12 million litres. Two world wars and diplomatic issues with Russia all affected Moldova’s wine industry in the intervening years but today it survives and thrives. The Moldovan wine collection ‘Mileștii Mici’, with almost 2 million bottles, is according to the Guinness Book, the largest wine collection in the world stretching for 250km. That’s quite a cellar!
Two to try:
Paparuda Pinot Noir – Romania: A vibrant youthful purple colour, the nose is full of violet fragrance with rich, ripe red berry and cherry. The body is light to medium, the palate fresh and inviting with a smooth, elegant finish. Incredibly well made for the price. €10.49 Clos de Corten Sauvignon Blanc – Moldova: A National Off-Licence Gold Star Winner ‘Best Old World White at €10’ A crisp, dry wine with aromas of ripe, tropical fruit. Watermelon and pineapple on the palate with refreshing acidity and decent length of finish. Tremendous value that will stand up against many higher-priced Sauvignons. Enjoy on its own or with light fish, grilled chicken or salads. €9.95
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