The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2012

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Page 104 of 128

Heritage, Rediscovered A Proud Wines from Select Wines of Romania at the recent New York tasting. WITH A CHECKERED PAST BUT BRIGHT FUTURE, ROMANIAN WINES COME TO MARKET by Lana Bortolot / photos by Doug Young I f you ask the wine world who might be the next sleeping giant, few would pick Romania. But that might change soon if a small but dedicated band of Romanian winemakers has anything to say about it. Representatives of Select Wines of Romania, a five-member consortium founded last year, traveled to New York City in June. Master of Wine Christy Canterbury led the trade seminar, which was followed by a walk-around tasting at Astor Wine & Spirits. W. Gillett Johnson, President of wine import, sales and marketing company International Vines, is aiding Romanian brands with entry into the U.S. market. Like many other emerging wine regions, Romania's story is old and new. The Greeks introduced winemaking here nearly 4,000 years ago. Lore has it Dionysus—the Thracian god of wine—was born here and that Plato once declared its vineyards among the best in the world. Yet, Romanian vineyards didn't always hold pride of place. Like most of Europe, the vineyards were hit by phylloxera in the late 19th century, and once recovered, were again decimated under 42 years of Communist rule. What juice they produced wasn't worth drinking, and for a long time, Romania's wine was defined by sweet and sweeter. Post-Iron Curtain winemakers started from scratch. "After the revolution, the lands were redistributed to owners, but they didn't know how to tend the vines," said Dragos Dumitru of Carl Reh Winery–Crama Oprisor. The winery completely replanted its 252 ha. in 2001, thanks, in part to some 41.2 million euros in annual support from the European Union for Romania's neglected vineyards. Now infused with foreign investment (Oprisor, owned by a German company, is but one of a few Romanian wineries with international ownership), the wineries have installed new technology, brought in flying winemakers, and have the support of APEV Romania, the Wine Exporters' and Producers' Association, set up in 2001 to facilitate research and education, and to help promote the wines at home and abroad. Consumer Comfort Zone Getting consumers into the comfort zone has been the first order of business, and position- ing Romania in the golden 45-degree parallel with Piemonte, Burgundy and Bordeaux helps. 104 / the tasting panel / august 2012

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