Sun still striking 30 here in Bucharest at midday. A lazy morning determined a journey to the Cotroceni Palace to see the seascape exhibition put together by the famous collector and painter Parizescu; we knew that security was strict but were still annoyed with the injunction to remove the camera from the rucksack (signs clearly indicated that a personal camera could be used for 4 euros but I wasn’t sure that the collection would make this worthwhile).
In the event I was wrong - the room whose brick ceiling looked like a cathedral but which is in fact the original kitchen turned out to house the most amazing little collection of early 20th century Romanian classics (Artachino, Pallady, Popescu, Ressu, Steriadi) and had me scurrying back to the gatehouse for the camera – having checked with 2 pleasant curators that this was OK. At which point the Romanian system clicked into action – a phone call was made to someone and I was denied permission to photo – although the notices clearly say that only the grounds and church are banned……
Furious, I returned and tried to get an explanation from the overbearing woman – who would only say that as the collection didn’t belong to the Palace, photos were not permitted…..She did agree to make a telephone call to the Director who apparently told her to have my camera brought up from the gatehouse……smiles all round……
Then, after a little picnic at the neighbouring Botanic Gardens, off to sample some white Romanian wines. The incredible price, range and quality of wines in neighbouring Bulgaria has meant that I am better informed of the wine scene there than here in Romania – good quality bottles of wine are 5-8 euros in Romania but 3-5 euros in Bulgaria.
Of course all Romanian cities are well endowed with wine "crameries” where you can get good regional wine from the barrel for just under 3 euros a litre. Hence my consumption of Romanian wines has tended to be restricted to the more common wines from Dealul Mare, Recas and Murfatlar – although I will buy bottles from the great Cotnari and Husi range in Moldova and I did find this week an excellent Riesling (in Lidl) for 4.5 euros (20 lei) from the Satu Mare vineyard of Ratesti
I have attended 2 of the recent annual Sofia November wine weekends and frequently consult the great little Catalogue of Bulgarian Wine produced each year by T Tanovska and K Iontcheva. Significantly, despite its much larger population, Romania does not (a far as my researches indicate) have such a publication …the glossy coffee table book recently published purporting to be about Romanian wines is just a sloppy bit of PR work........Perhaps I'll learn more at the big wine fair in Bucharest 2-6 November this year. Big date - it will be my first such Romanian event - insallah!!
So it has been much more difficult for me to make an assessment of what the wine market offers here in Romania. I decided it was time to rectify that. The Dealul Mare vineyards are in the Carpathian foothills only an hour’s driving north of Bucharest – this site offers a nice introduction to what’s on offer - and this blog also gives some useful technical notes on some of the better wines
But I wanted to see what was available here in Bucharest so chose Ethic Wine’s Tasting Room just 5 minutes drive away…...which is both a shop and wine bar. For 15 euros I had a taste of three great Romanian whites – Liliac Feteasca Alba (near Targu Mures); Bauer Sauvignon Blanc (near Craiova); and a Iacob white cuvee from the Davino vineyard at Ceptura (Dealul Mare), But, surprisingly no titbits were on offer to help sharpen the tastebuds - and only a few slices of bread were offered when I asked. A strange sort of "tasting room"!
And the Dionysus wine bar looks worth checking out