and Momma knows best!
When I was planning my strategy for the 2010 ProWein International Wine Trade Fair, I knew that I had to spend one of my days discovering wines and wine countries I had never tried or perhaps even heard of.
(and Yes, I am still talking about ProWein. I know it was like 2 weeks ago, and I am still recapping the event, but I didn’t taste all that wine for nothing !! I gotta blog about… and not some lame boring blogging….each entry has to have the dorky Ceci Sipper flair to it! The style you have grown to love sooo much=P. I mean what is Vinously Speaking without the dork factor? That and I need to do some PR on the ProWein event or else they won’t let me have a press pass next year =P )
So my first victim was……
What caught my attention was the staunch looking man behind the counter…I decided I needed to try and make him laugh =P and try some Romanian wine!
See, I told you he looked staunch…..but he was actually SUPER friendly and very informative! I got to taste the entire line! It was a royal experience! No really, it was! This estate is owned by royalty! The vineyards are located in the Dragasani wine region in southern Romania and has been owned by the family of Prince Stirbey since the 18th century. The current owner is the granddaughter of Princess Maria Stirbey (Prince Stirbey’s daughter) and her title is Baroness Ileana Kripp-Costinescu and her husband, Baron Jakob Kripp was the man you gave me the tasting! How wild is that! For the purposes of keeping this blog from becoming too long, I am just going to highlight the indigenous varietals for that I tried, but they do also produce wines from international varietals like Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. All their wines are single varietal wines and one other interesting fact is their new winemaker hails from Germany!
For the white wines the indigenous grape varietals I tried were: (from the left)
Cramposie (1st) – floral, fresh fruitiness (apple, pear) definitely acidity in there! Wake UP!
Feteasca Regala (2nd) -exotic fruits, fresh acidity and a great body to it!
Tamaioasa Romaneasca Dry (4th) – roses, exotic fruits, some spice
Tamaioasa Romaneasca Semi-Sweet (fifth) – floral, cinnamon, nutmeg, (like sweet bread)
(I was told the above grape is similar to the Gewurztraminer grape)
For the red indigenous grapes, I tried: (from left)
Novac (1st) – chocolate, blueberry, peppery
Negru de Dragasani (3rd) – strong black fruits smell and a hint of some pine
Feteasca Neagra (5th) – Spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, dried fruits, smelled like Christmas fruit bread, mmmm!
I tried to snap a photo and someone else had the same idea…..ah well. They were a very sweet couple and very helpful and I learned a lot about these new grape varietals I had never heard of before! You can visit their website at www.stirbey.com (offered in English). If you want a quick read to learn more about Romanian wines, here is the link to the wikipedia article.
For your enjoyment I am also including videos I have found on the internet from each of the countries I am writing about today. There is no possible way I can write about each of these countries and do them justice in just one post, so I am calling on the help of videos to help show off these “lesser-known wine producing countries” …so without further ado, here is a video I found on Romanian wines! Enjoy!
Moving on….the Baron from the Romanian stand had recommended that I try a certain grape varietal at the Georgian stand right next to them. Now for those if you that are wondering….I am talking about Georgia the country, not Georgia the US state =P Georgia is actually quite important to the world of wine…the historical Transcaucasian region, which is now Georgia, is where grapes were gathered for the first time in the world for making wine about 7000 years ago. This is also what the Georgian wine industry is using as their marketing slogan, “Georgian Wine: Touch the History” and as you can see below, “Georgia: Wine Started Here”. Clever, very clever. Side Note: Two songs are running through my head right now, “Georgia On My Mind” – Ray Charles and “Why Georgia” – John Mayer.
So I walked straight up to the wine rep and told him I was on a mission. I said, “I need some SAPERAVI. I need it know. And it better be FREE!!” JK, all the tastings were free. The stand that I decided to harass, was called Tiflisi Marani. Here is a link to their website.
So the grape varietal under scrutiny here is called…Saperavi. The first Saperavi wine I was given to try was not aged in oak. It had strong aromas of black fruits (black currant and blackberry) and as it had not seen oak, it rested on the fruit flavor. It was delicious and easy to drink! The second Saperavi had been aged in oak, so it was like eating a piece of toast with some black fruit jam. This one was my favorite. The last one was called Mukuzani and it is still made from the Saperavi grape, but just named after the region it comes from. It was aged for 2 years in oak. It had the same black fruit notes but this time it was a touch of smokiness to it. The tannins were a tad strong, but it was a wine to age, and it was still in its youth. I also read on Wikipedia that this varietal is also being grown in the Finger Lakes area of New York and in the King Valley Region in Victoria, Australia. This varietal is considered to be the best of the Georgian wines. So do try to get your paws on this. For further reading on Georgian wines, and their other indigenous varietals, here is the link to the Wikipedia article.
Here is a shot of the glasses of the 3 Saperavi wines I tried. Now I may or may not have been asked to try the Georgian Brandy in the background….and it definitely was not even noon yet. WHEW!! I think I grew a few hairs on my chest!!!
I suppose they thought I was a girl that could handle my hard liquor, but….little did they know. After the brandy tasting, I had to excuse myself to get some fresh air, or else I would have started dancing like this….
Before we move on the next country…check out this awesome commercial for Georgian wines. Haha!
Moving on to the…..
Macedonia also has a long history with winemaking dating back to pre-Roman times. I decided to peruse the stand to see which wine producer would be my next lucky victim. I saw one rep pulling out a few bottles with hand written labels on them and decided that was my sign.
The winery I chose was called Stobi Winery. This winery is located in the heart of Macedonia and is in the wine region ‘Tikves’, which is the most famous wine region in Macedonia. The most widely grown grape at this winery and the most popular indigenous grape varietal in Macedonia is called ‘Vranec’. An interesting note about the name of this grape, the word ‘Vranec’ means strong black and powerful horse, and this wine is associated with strength, potency, and success. The beginning part “Vran” also means raven colored or black, and in many south Slavic languages red wine is also known as black wine.
The wine rep was also telling me that this wine was a new release and didn’t even have a name for it….he said if I had an idea, to contact him. So if any of you VS readers have an idea, I will pass along your name and the name you come up with for the wine. This no-name Vranec wine had the most outstanding color to it. I don’t know if this picture below shows it, but it was such an intense purple magenta color. Like nothing I had ever seen before. It was psychedelic, man. Apparently this bright purple color is typical of young Vranec wines.
And the smell and taste of this no-name Vranec were just as fantastic. MMMM!A mixture of red and black berry, jammie, slight chocolatey action. Oh, so good! Sad I had to spit it out….=(
Another indigenous varietal from Macedonia that I tried was called Rkaciteli (above left) and had aromas of springtime in open fields with flowers, some fruits (apple, pear, apricot) Delightful!
Below are two videos I found. One is a promotional commercial for Macedonian wines and the other is someone who went to a Macedonian wine and music festival. Both are a great way to take a 10 minute mini-vacation right now. Ahhh!
Next on my adventure was Croatia! This stand was happening! I barely was able to get someone to give me a tasting of the indigenous grapes. First off, the rep pulled out a large photo album and showed me pictures of the wine regions of Croatia….OMG….GORRRGEOUS!!! It was neat of them to show you the photos of the wine regions before tasting their wines.
The first varietal was called Zlahtina. It was a dry, crisp wine with citrus, mineral, stone like aromas and flavors.
The next varietal was called Babic. It smelled of fresh cherries and light spice notes.
The last one I tried was from the grape called Plavac. This grape is thought to be the ancestor of the Zinfandel grape, so you can expect the heavy dark fruits, spicey, peppery aromas. One of my favorite wine videos to watch, Gary Vaynerchuck on Wine TV Library, did an episode on Croatian wines and the 3rd wine he tastes is the one I tasted above, same vineyard and all!
I know this post is a bit lengthy, but there were soooo many unknown varietals to taste! Ahhh! Our last stop of the day turned out to be one that was the most impressive for me of all of ProWein. I was walking around trying to find the last stop for the first day, when the rep from this booth approached me as I walked by and said he knew me. I thought he was just trying to get me to taste the wines by using that one-liner, but he said he knew that I wrote a wine blog. I FELT SOOOO FAMOUS!! Apparently a week or so before ProWein, he came across my blog from a well-known Greek wine blogger named Markus Stolz: www.elloinos.com I am not sure how he managed to come across my wine blog and the luck of me walking by, but wow! What a cool feeling!
Anywho, onto the wines from Domaine Vourvoukeli. This is an organic wine producer from Greece, who has a unique way to his winemaking. For each of his wines, he combines a Greek grape varietal and an international one. I tasted the 5 wines they had to show and the combinations were:
Assyrtico/Sauvignon Blanc (white)
On an interesting note, the name for the grape “Pamiti” means wine to drink to get drunk! Haha! Love it! I am sold! This grape variety was almost wiped out from from the vine louse phylloxera. But luckily the vines were sent to France to be grafted onto American rootstock so the varietal could be saved. Also, they told me that Domaine Vourvoukeli is the only vineyard to grow this grape varietal ! Also, their Rose (Pamiti and Syrah combination) was the only non-French rose to wine an award at the Rose Competition in France!
Another neat thing is that the “Limnio” grape above was the first ever grape variety to be given a name!
I was blown away by the quality of each of these wines. I was obviously so entranced by them, because my tasting notes only say words like, Outstanding, Yumm, OMG, Delicious, Holy Moly. Just goes to show you that when a wine is amazing, it really can leave you speechless…or wordless in my case. I had been to numerous wine stands in the course of the 3 days at ProWein and no other booth impressed me with their ENTIRE line up. This was a fabulous example of winemaking at its best. Very impressive Domaine Vourvoukeli !! I have to admit, I did not spit out any of these wines. They were way to good to make a sacrifice to the spittoon. Man Oh Man. If you can get your paws on these wines….DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Seriously!
Below is a video of from the Greek Wine Blogger I mentioned above. He has a YouTube channel in which he is going to offer short video clips on 100 different Greek grape varietals. Be sure to subscribe to the channel so you can learn more about the fabulous Greek varietals that are available out there. I hope you Enjoy!
Thanks for hanging in there with me! I know it was a long one! But these “lesser-known wine countries really do deserve the spotlight. (and there are others not mentioned here). But, let me tell you, I am beat. Long posts like this do take it out of you. Whew!! I need a glass of Vino….too bad it is 3:23am my time. I suppose that is a bit late to open up a bottle =P
Vinously Speaking & Vinously Yours,
The Ceci Sipper!