The Wine Book of Romania
A week ago I looked into “The Wine Book of Romania” recently launched by Marinela V Ardelean, a complex guide of top-quality wines.
Marinela V. Ardelean is a wine expert, trained in Champagne and nominated in Reims as “Dame Chevalier de L’Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne”. She is an internationally acclaimed figure and judge, and a member of panels for a number of wine-tastings.
In “The Wine Book of Romania” Marinela introduces the readers into the amazing diversity and beauty of Romanian wines: terroirs, exquisite types of Romanian grapes – Feteasca neagra, Babeasca neagra, Feteasca Alba, Feteasca Regala, wine making modern techniques and many other topics.
The book comprises the best available Romanian wines at this very moment. 214 wines were rated with 3* to 5* by 8 wine international specialists: Caroline Gilby – Master of Wine (Marea Britanie), Rod Smith- Master of Wine (France), Luiz Alberto- Wine Expert (USA), Paul Robert Blom (Netherlands), Helmuth Koecher (Italy), Zoltán Szövérdfi – Szép (Romania), Cosmin Grozea (Romania) și Mi Yeun Hong (Koreea). Out of the 215 wines, 15% received the 5* which says a lot about the Romanian potential. Marinela is a true ambassador of the Romanian wines “Shortly, Romanian wines will be positioned near prestigious wines all over the world”.
In “The Wine Book of Romania” you will learn how the Romanian Feteasca Alba and the international Sauvignon Blanc make a harmonious blend in a glass of Terra Romana 2014, what to pair next to the elegant Liliac Pinot Noir Private Selection 2013, about the flavorful, vibrant and floral Clos de Colombes “Printesa si bobul de mazare” 2012, about the famous Flamboyant 2009 from Davino.
“If we examine the red grapes, we must first mention Fetească Neagră, one of the most known and loved red grape varieties of both Romanians and of wine connoisseurs globally. Known In English as Black Maiden, this is an pre-phelloxeric ancient variety, cultivated mainly in Moldova and Muntenia. It is a deep red color, with ruby shades and its engaging flavor becomes gentler with aging. In contrast, Negru de Drăgășani is dark purple in color with flavors combining essence of berries, cherry and maybe a touch of coffee. As its name suggests, it can be found in Oltenia region, Drăgășani, which is a perfect area for growing red grape varieties. Busuioacă de Bohotin has its origin in the Norh – East Romania, near Iași. While it can be found in any other wine regions its flavor and nose are totally different. Its color is not dark but a very light red, and its smell resembles that of honey, ripe juicy peaches with gentle almond tendencies”.
“Theory alone is not sufficient and we need practice too. Thus many of these wines could be tasted at the Wine Festival during May 21-22 at Fratelli Studios. The 2 days event will be organized by me in partnership with Liviu and Mihai Popescu, the co-owners of Fratelli Group” says Marinela. At the festival, many of the wines in the book are going to fill the glasses, swirled and be talked about, be admired and delight us. “I am sure that in 20 years from now, when we will talk about Wine Excellence in Europe, Romania will join France and Italy in a reputable top 3.”
I talked few times to Marinela and I am happy to see that the complex world of wines has such a young and passionate ambassador. I was therefore very curious and asked Marinela to answer few of my… and maybe your questions:
- How did the idea to write this book come up?
In November 2014 I launched in Italy my first book, “50 Romanian wines meet 50 Italian dishes”. During different events I was asked when are we Romanians going to have our wine book, with a selection of quality wines. So at one point, I said… let’s do it!
- How did you select the wines from the book? What about the evaluation process?
During March- August 2015 I visited around 100 wineries in Romania and Republic of Moldova and tasted almost 3000 wines. From each producer I chose up to 5 labels of wine to represent in this book. Regarding the evaluation process, I invited the jury whose president I was in Valea Verde, Cund to taste and evaluate the top wines I had chosen beforehand.
The specialists could disqualify wines if they didn’t make at least 3 points. The jury members were divided in 4 teams, analyzed each wine and evaluated them from 3 to 5 points (3= a good wine, 4= a very good one, 5= an excellent wine).
- What do you think about the Romanian wine market?
It is such a dynamic and encouraging evolution for both producers and re-sellers! We have excellent wines in Romania and this is why it is important to know them and promote them in order to help the industry. We have to promote Romanian grapes such as: Feteasca Neagra, Feteasca Alba, Feteasca Regala, Șarbă, Busuioacă, Rara Neagră / Babeasca Neagra, Tămâioasă Românească and many others. The consumption of dry wine has raised considerably lately and to my joy, the increase in consumption of the good quality wine displays even among the most traditional consumers.
- What do you suggest to the Romanians interested in enogastronomy?
Try! Try! Try!
Curiosity is a critical ingredient in wine food pairing. There are few rules but often they might be successfully broken and offer us exquisite experiences. For example I often recommend red meat with a white wine and tuna with red wine.
When we talk about Romanian meals, a food and wine from the same geographical area could make a great pairing. It is true that in Romania we did some recent progress in food- wine pairing but we have a long way to go. We highlight the food more than the wine and I believe that choosing a good quality wine could enhance the dinner itself. Studying and choosing carefully a proper wine before the meal might represents a step forward in our enogastronomy education.
- Could you recommend us any basic principles in food& wine pairing?
There are different way of pairing, for example the more complex they are, it is harder to associate them. If we can adjust the food taste with different condiments, salt, pepper, the wine remains as it is. You do mot have to be afraid to taste and try all the time. Even if not settling for the rules, no matter if non-sticklers, we still we have to respect some principles: the more structure in the dish, the more complexity needed in the wine.
The wine color is very important as well. Pasta with vegetables pair very well with white wine but as soon as we add tomato sauce to the pasta, the red wine is the best match. The same meat, cooked in different ways- baked, broiled, grilled, raw, etc- change totally the wine flavors. When pairing you have to taste the meat and take a sip of wine. If none of them is dominating the other that’s a great match as the idea is to feel all the flavors in both food and wine.
- Do you have any special favorite pairings?
Black Angus (medium-rare cooked) – with Chardonnay & Feteasca Alba blending, red tuna in bell pepper and tomato sauce with black olives, duck and boletus soup with a glass of Babeasca Neagra/Rara Neagra. Roast rabbit with herbs and a glass of Negru de Dragasani Rose.
Foie gras – and sweet Riesling.