Tasting notes: Black Sea wine surprises - January 2014.
Puklavec & Friends – Sauvignon Blanc – Slovenia – 2012, alcohol 13%
The tasting wine is produced by the country’s largest private producer. About half of its production is from its own vineyards and the remainder from bought in grapes. This wine is 100% Sauvignon Blanc, a fresh aromatic wine that is perhaps s somewhere between New Zealand and Loire styles; notes of grapefruit, gooseberries, and cut grass; a versatile wine that would go well with seafood, chicken, and goat’s cheese.
Tikves – Macedonia – 2012, alcohol 12%
The tasting wine is a blend of two grapes, Smederevka and Rkaciteil, and is produced near the border with Greece; a crisp, dry, refreshing wine that has fresh apple and pear notes; a wine that is recommended for seafood and fish. The producer, Tikves, is the largest producer in Macedonia with over 35 million bottles a year. This is reputed to be the oldest wine area in the Balkans.
This wine is believed to be the first one from Macedonia to be sold in the UK. It attracted considerable press publicity when it was first on sale, October 2013, and quickly sold out – not surprising, as this wine is very good value for money. There is also a favourably reported red wine from Tikves that is a blend of Vranec and Merlot which has a 14% alcohol level.
Lefkes – Greece – 2012, alcohol 12.5%
Produced from 100% Moschofilero grape in the Peloponnese area of Northern Greece. The Moschofilero grape is both delicate and intensely flavored, a mix of floral (rose), citrus and herbal notes; a wine that would go well with summer salads and other light dishes, or simply for sitting in the garden on a bright, summer’s day - The tasting wine was a worthwhile surprise.
Golden Valley – Croatia – 2012, alcohol 13.5%
The tasting wine is made of 100% Grasevina, the most widely planted grape in Croatia. It is unoaked, a very expressive wine with notes of ripe peach and tropical fruits together with refreshing lemon; a wine that would go particularly well with richer seafood dishes such as crab and lobster.
Pinot Noir – Romania – 2012, alcohol 13%
The tasting wine is a soft, easy drinking wine with cherry, raspberry, and strawberry notes; a wine to go with grilled chicken, duck, and pork. Inexpensive compared with most other sources of Pinot Noir.
Sevilen – Turkey – 2012, alcohol 12%
The tasting wine is made from 100% Okuzgozu grape which is unique to Turkey. The grapes are grown on the upper slopes of the Euphrates river in the eastern region of Elazig. The altitude varies between 2625 feet and 3609 feet (800 and 1100 m) and this helps to give a particular intensity to the grapes. Unusually for a red wine, it is unoaked. This wine has a wide range of notes that includes raspberry, redcurrants, dark cherry, and mint. The tannins are quite pronounced which suggest that it would be better with meaty food such as slow cooked lamb.
(This wine has a kick and the fruit flavors are quite pronounced considering it is relatively low in alcohol for a red wine)
Cricova Prestige Collection – Moldova – 2005, alcohol 12%
The tasting wine is Cabernet Sauvignon and it has the benefit of significant ageing, lighter in style than typical Bordeaux, and perhaps more herbal notes. This wine is a good partner for roast lamb.
The Cricova cellars are one of the largest in the world and stretch for over 43.5 miles (70 km) – and some estimates put this figure as high as 74.5 miles (120 km) – The cellars have a network of roads named after French wine regions – and one of the largest collections of Cognac. You need to drive a car, with a guide on the passenger seat, to visit the cellars.
Orovela, Saperavi grape – Georgia – 2006, alcohol 13%
The tasting wine is made mainly from the Saperavi grape with a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon. The Saperavi grape is the most widely planted grape in Georgia. Saperavi wine traditionally has high acidity and tannins which means that it is capable of considerable ageing. This wine has complex notes of mulberry, blackberry, dark cherry, and spice; a wine that goes well with red meats.
(On a blind tasting, it would be difficult to distinguish this wine from much more expensive French wines)