After 38 years in the wine trade, there are not many wine-producing countries that I’ve not visited and last September provided the opportunity to cross another one off the list as I flew into Bucharest for a “virtual tour” of 20 of Romania’s leading wineries. 11 years after joining the EU, communications in the former eastern bloc country remain challenging so representatives of the various wineries were charged with doing battle with Europe’s worst roads on which cars appear still to be outnumbered by horse-drawn carts, in order to present their wines at one central location some 50 miles (2 hours) from Bucharest.
The overwhelming impression from 19 of the wineries we looked at was of ranges that evidenced blood, sweat and tears in abundance accompanied by no end of enthusiasm and slightly more varied degrees of craftsmanship. A range from the best of these will arrive in the new year but, in the meantime, there’s Nachbil. Laying claim to being Romania’s only “Natural” winery Nachbil’s were, by a country mile, the most interesting wines we encountered during the 60 hours we spent there. Using both indigenous and international grapes their wines are characterised by an expression of purity and elegance that many of their peers seem to struggle with. Whilst I still believe that there are many “natural,” “minimal intervention” wines that could be improved no end by some judicious intervening, Nachbil provide a very strong argument for an alternative viewpoint that I am only too happy to embrace.
The range includes Syrah, Feteasca Neagra, Blaufrankisch, Gruner Sylvaner and Grunspitz.