This week I head to Eastern Europe and beyond – home to interesting native grape varieties and fantastic bargains too:
Slovenia: ISTENIC PRESTIGE EXTRA BRUT 2017
£32.99 Novel Wines
Stylish 60% Chardonnay/40% Pinot Noir blend from the Slovenian/Croatian border shows how good Slovenian traditional method fizz can be. Founder Janez Istenic’s son Miha, based in historic Bizeljsko region, has created a stylish biscuity lemony lush-fruited fizz. Beautifully packaged.
Moldova: CHATEAU VARTELY DEALU NUCULUI VIORICA 2021
Viorica is a local Moldovan grape created in 1969, initially bred as a quality grape to withstand cold winters. Attractive floral bouquet with spicy notes, the Viorica grape would suit anyone who like dry Muscat or Gewurztraminer. Pearskin and sherbet notes with herby undertones, citric fruit, textured and creamy – but still quite fresh.
Croatia: KOZLOVIC MALVAZIJA 2021
£13 Strictly Wine
Malvazija Istarska is Istria’s local white grape – originally of Cretean origin brought to Istria by Venetian merchants. Deliciously floral, rich textured creamy leesy minerally dry white made by Gianfranco and Antonella Kozlovic on their impressive 17 hectare vineyard near Momjan. Ideal for serving with Istria’s local rich pasta and truffle dishes.
Hungary: BALASSA MARTY MCFLY FURMINT 2021 ***GOOD VALUE***
£11.95 The Wine Society
Istvan Balassa is one of Tokaj’s up and coming producers gaining a name for himself for his extraordinarily intense Furmints. His off-dry oaked blend of five vineyard plots is incredible for the price: apply, citric, spicy, honeyed, rich, fresh and complex: a great bargain.
Romania: ‘FOUND’ FETEASCA REGALA 2021
£7 Marks & Spencer
Off dry example from Romania’s popular Feteasca Regala grape made by an Australian and Spanish winemaking team at Romania’s largest independent winery Cramele Recas in Banat, western Romania. Floral, limey, honeysuckle, gentle spicy with moderate alcohol (11.5%) to serve with local ‘bulz’.
Romania: SOLARA 2021 ***STAR BUY***
£10.95 Luvians; Borders Wines; Fine Wine Musselburgh; Drinkmonger; Whisky Exchange
Gentle introduction to the ‘orange’ skin-contact style with stone fruits, apricot and ginger undertones, vivid fresh acidity and rich tannic mouthfeel. Unusual blend dominated by local Romanian Feteasca Alba with Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Tamioasa Romaneasca – made by Philip Cox’s team at Cramele Recas.
Romania: METAMORFOSIS MERLOT 2017
£11.95 St Andrews Wine
For those who like Merlot’s lush succulent plummy fruits, spicy notes, smooth texture and weight alcohol, this mature Romanian example is a cracking buy. No wonder as one of its owners is the famous Tuscan Antinori family and the other owner/winemaker Fiorenzo Risa, another Italian who has settled in Romania.
Slovenia: DVERI PAX BENEDICT RED CUVEE 2013
£11.50 The Wine Society
Spot the mature vintage – quite unusual to find something this old on our shelves from Eastern Europe. This crazy mix of grapes: Blaufrankisch, Pinot Noir and Zweigelt is aged in Slavonian and French oak made by top Slovenian winery, Dveri Pax in Podravje region. Loved its plum and morello cherry flavours and silky tannins.
Bulgaria: BRATANOV THREE BLEND RED 2015
£21.50 The Old Cellar
Another mature beauty – this time from South Sakar region in southeast Bulgaria, home to the impressive Bratanov winery. My favourite grape Cabernet Franc is blended here with a little Merlot and local Rubin grape and aged 36 months in Bulgarian, Hungarian and French oak. Loved its bright cherry fruits, oaky, licquorice and peppery notes and smooth tannins.
Bulgaria: EDOARDO MIROGLIO HERITAGE PINOT NOIR 2019 ***STAR BUY***
Italian textile manufacturer – turned Thracian Valley winery owner – Edoardo Miroglio makes the best Bulgarian Pinot Noir. This reserve blend is seriously good. Silky soft, cherried, light body, truffly savoury flavours and very appealing.
Moldova: INDIVIDO RARA NEAGRA/MALBEC/SYRAH 2019
£19 Moldovan Wine
Another enticing blend of local and international grapes. This rich ripe juicy red blend is dominated by Rara Neagra which grows well in south east Moldova achieving deep colour and flavour – spiced up with 35% Malbec and 20% Syrah made at Chateau Vartely by German trained winemaker Arcadie Fosnea.
Hungary: SZELESHAT BIKAVER 2017
£11.95 The Wine Society
Very elegant example of ‘Bulls Blood’ made predominantly from Hungary’s most planted red grape Kekrankos, with Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Kadarka. Loved its cherry fruit, plummy spicy flavours and silky velvety tannins – from the revived Szeleshat vineyard in southern Szekszard region. Note the Szekszard embossed bottle used for the region’s best quality flagship wines.
Join Rose’s Up & Coming Producers Wine Tasting on 2 March www.rosemurraybrown.com
Lead picture credit: Wines of Hungary – Personally