Saturday, April 23, 2011

Wine on the Run: Poze Rose Wine of Greece

Poze Rose from Greece
Poze Dry Rose Wine is OK. Nothing to run for or to run from. It's dark and a little more red than many Roses but does not have that super Rose freshness and fun feeling. At 4.50 Euro per bottle, it's fine served chilled at a barbecue on a hot day.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Review: Kourtaki Vin de Crete (White) 2008 from Greece

Vin de Crete 2008 by Kourkaki
Wine: Since I moved to Greece, I have been mainly drinking the house wine at restaurants that comes in 1/4-1/2 liter pitchers that has varied in taste from rotgut to somewhat better than rotgut. If you have not figured it out by now, I am cheap. Last weekend, I went out looking for a place to exchange dollars to Euros. It was Sunday night and rainy. After walking endlessly, I stumbled upon a tourist restaurant. I was wet and tired and did not care. There was no house wine so the waiter suggested a 1/2 bottle of Vin de Crete by Kourtaki. I knew nothing about the wine but thought Crete's hot and dry climate should be ideal for white wine so I readily agreed. Vin de Crete is said to be a "country wine" from the hills of Central Crete using a native grape called the Vilana.

Tasting: The wine was a half bottle served chilled and eaten with fried calamari (really good) and lamb chops (pedestrian). Kourtaki's Vin de Crete 2008 has 12% alcohol.

Result: The Vin de Crete had a dry and fresh taste. It tasted out of the barrel in a good way. The Vilana had a slightly wetter taste than a crisp Sauvignon Blanc. The wine was golden in color, clear, and medium-bodied. There was a taste of sour apple, like a Granny Smith. The wine was delightful with the calamari. Grilled sea bass is popular here. The Vin de Crete would go perfectly with the sea bass.

Rating: Good.

Price value: 8.50 Euros for a half bottle in the tourist restaurant was probably two to three times the street price. My guess is that it is a very good buy.

Review: 2005 Negru de Purcari of Moldova

Wine: My friend Rob said, "I read your blog and now I know what not to drink." We have not reviewed too many stunners yet. We want Black Sea Wines to guide you to the terrific wines of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. So, after Rob's comment, we were headed to the home of friends and I pulled out a bottle of 2005 Negru de Purcari from Moldova which I carried back in my suitcase from a trip to Chisinau in the hopes of drinking a winner. In an earlier post, I mentioned how I loved the 2003 Negru de Purcari but was disappointed in the 2007. Purcari is one of Moldova's leading wineries, and Negru de Purcari is their Cadillac or Mercedes brand. Negru de Purcari is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Saperavi.

Tasting: We tasted the wine with our friends, Martha and Tom. Both are great cooks. Tom made pizza from scratch with basil and fresh mozzarella. It was amazing. We opened the bottle with the pizza. We drank the wine immediately after opening without decanting.

Result: The Negru de Purcari lived up to its reputation. Debbie liked the wine. I asked Tom what he thought of the wine and he said that it was subtle. The wine did not try to overpower you but had lots of taste. I agree. The Negru de Purcari was wonderfully smooth with lots of fruit. It was dry with just a little bit of sweetness and left a pleasant sensation on the tongue. The wine had good clarity and was delightful a bit colder than room temperature.

Rating: Very Good. I cannot give the wine an "Excellent" because it would have needed to be a "little bigger."

Price Value: $20-25 USD per bottle. Average. The price for the wine is perfectly acceptable but at $20, there are many wines from California, South Africa and Australia just as good.

Review: Egervin Bulls Blood 2007 from Hungary

Wine: One of the most famous wines from Hungary is Bulls Blood by Egervin. Egri Bikaver, translated as Bulls Blood, comes from the town of Eger, Hungary and dates back to the 1850s. Although the legend of the phrase Bulls Blood is derived from much earlier times when the citizens of Eger fought the Ottoman Empire and drank red wine for strength. Bulls Blood is available throughout the world and is self-classified as a dry red table wine. Along with the Tokaji dessert wines, Bulls Blood is among the most well known Hungarian wines in the United States. What makes Bulls Blood particularly interesting is that it can have any three of ten grapes: Kadarka, Kékfrankos (or Blaufränkisch, Blauer Portugieser, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Menoire, Pinot Noir, Blauburger and Zweigelt. Kadarka, a native Hungarian grape is traditional, but other grapes are substituted when supplies are insufficient. The wine was purchased at Liquor Outlet and Wine Cellars in Boonton, NJ. (A terrific wine store.)

Tasting: We tasted the wine at home with dinner. (Sorry I forgot to take notes on dinner.)

Results: The wine's label suggests opening Bulls Blood one hour before drinking. We opened the bottle two hours before drinking. When we tasted the wine, we were disappointed. It was harsh and clearly not yet ready to drink. We vacuum sealed the bottle and tried it again three days later. All the harshness had disappeared. The wine was dark, rich and warm with great legs on the glass. There was a taste of cherries and currants with some tannins. It had a medium to heavy body with a strong aroma.

Rating: Good

Price Value: At $8-10 USD per bottle, it's a good price value; not tremendous but good. I found a 2004 bottle in the store and will review that one next month. I can't wait!

First Experience with Bulls Blood Wine of Hungary in 1994

I visited Hungary for the first time in 1994. I had been overseas a number of times but I was still a beer guy and was a relatively young member of a US Department of Defense team working in Hungary. Thus, I never ordered the wine and was happy to drink whatever was placed in front of me. Our team leader, Frank, in addition to being a great mentor and living proof that you can be a nice guy and get results from people, was well traveled and conversant in wines. Frank wanted to try Bulls Blood which we all had heard about a great deal.

Our team members had been told that unscrupulous waiters and sommeliers would try to cheat us by serving us rotgut or watered down wine at high prices. We had not had this experience in Hungary or Romania to this point and laughed this off as a tourist 'urban legend.'

Sure enough, we went to a fancy restaurant in downtown Budapest. The uniformed waiter brought us a bottle of Bulls Blood that had "just been opened." The wine tasted OK to me but Frank took one taste and knew that the wine was watered down. He requested another bottle and asked the waiter to open it in front of us. The waiter did not even protest. The waiter brought us a second bottle and it tasted exactly the same as the first. We immediately challenged the waiter with a little more agitation. We were a group of eight males; some quite large. Flummoxed, the waiter asked us if we wanted another bottle. Frank asked for a carafe of the cheapest house wine. The waiter happily supplied it and guess what? It tasted exactly the same as the wine in the Bulls Blood bottles.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Review: Chateau Topolcianky Tramin Cerveny 2006 from Slovakia

Chateau Topolcianky Tramin  2006
Wine: I am in the process of moving to Athens and stopped off for two days of business in Bratislava. I decided to try some Slovak wine. I went to the Tesco at the My Bratislava shopping center and found an excellent selection of Slovak and Czech wines at varying price points. Since I am predisposed to drink red wine, I decided to try a white, a Tramin Cerveny 2006 by Chateau Topolciansky of Slovakia. Tramin, also known as Traminer or Gewurztraminer, is one of my favorite Eastern European whites.

Tasting: It was a wine tasting for this review. My second tasting was with pizza.

Results: The Tramin Cerveny is nice. I would describe it as fruity and spicy. There were tastes of grapefruit and banana. I would have preferred the wine to be a bit drier and more flowery but it is enjoyable. (The Tramin is not as crisp or complex as the Traminer Rezerva by Chateau Vartely of Moldova.) Chateau Topolcianky's Tramin has a pleasantly acidic aftertaste that lingers specifically on the tongue yet is a gentle wine. The wine's color is a deeper yellow than I expected but has good clarity and a stronger than expected aroma.

Rating: Drinkable+ to Good. When I went to the hotel bar to ask for a corkscrew, the waiter looked at the wine's label and smiled assuredly at me.

Price Value: For 5 Euros a bottle, it's a good value.

Review of Terra Romana Wines from Romania by Nicusor Cazan

We are fortunate to have a blog post from Nicusor Cazan who has his own terrific blog in Romanian called Cazan Cu Vin (literally "Cazan With Wine"; more akin to "Cazan On Wine"). We are delighted to have his first English language post at Black Sea Wines. Here's Nicusor's post:
A couple of days ago I was introduced by one of my good friends, to a wine enthusiast overseas. His name is Barry and he is the creator and the contributor of a wine blog named "Black Sea Wines". I found this initiative more than welcome and, because Barry invited me to write a review of a Romanian wine for his blog, here is my very first post in English.

And what other better opportunity to share than the two latest creations of one of the best Romanian wine producers. Its name, SERVE, is an acronym for "Societatea Euro-Romana de Vinuri de Exceptie", one of the first initiatives in Romania, after the fall of communism, to produce premium wines. It was founded in 1994 by Guy Tyrel de Poix, a highly valued Frenchman by the Romanian wine industry, who unfortunately this year left us too soon. RIP.

He put back on track an area of approximately 100ha divided in two vineyards. One on the hills between Ploiesti and Buzau, near a village called Ceptura, an area with a climate similar to Burgundy, called Dealu Mare, very famous in Romania for its very good wine, especially reds. The second one, located somewhere in Dobrogea, a very sunny place, is part of the Babadag vineyard.

Coming closer to the wines they are producing, I should mention their two labels: Vinul Cavalerului and Terra Romana. And today I will focus more on the second one, having the pleasure to receive two samples directly from the producer, to whom I kindly thank.

I tasted two very young wines from this vintner, 2010, which were launched only a couple of weeks ago together with a Rose, a Feteasca Alba and a Chardonnay, also from 2010.

The first one tasted by me was Terra Romana Sauvignon Blanc 2010, with a moderate 13% alcohol very well integrated by a fresh and crispy feeling thanks to a high acidity. According with the “technical” specification, I received in a letter together with the bottles, this wine was never in touch with any wood, which give you the opportunity to feel on your lips all the citrus a young and typical Sauvignon Blanc can offer. The very pale yellow of its color with some greenish hue together with the typical smell of vine tendril makes it an excellent and easy to drink everyday wine.  The aftertaste is very long and bitter. A good pairing for some sushi I tried on Sunday.

The second one was a more complex wine, called Terra Romana Milenium (white). It’s a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and a drop of Chardonnay. It is produced from a new plantation in Dealu Mare region and part of the wine was matured in new barrels. Because of this and more residual sugar, it’s totally different than the first one.

A more intense yellow color, with some green glows because of the age, leaves some very nice traces on the glass after whirling. The nose is a little bit pungent with floral aromas and the tendrils, thanks to the Sauvignon Blanc. In the mouth is more round and soften than the previous one with a similar long and bitter after taste. What I felt in addition, was some milky sensation on the tongue following the swallow.

As a conclusion and a personal recommendation I will go with the Sauvignon Blanc, because of its higher freshness and acidity which I prefer to a very young white wine.

Our thanks to Nicusor. Please see his blog. And by the way, I agree that some of the Terra Romana wines are very nice. Romania makes some lovely Sauvignon Blancs.