I was invited to a wine tasting in Romania, in the town of Arad. The story began with a Hungarian family directing the wine life of Arad, thanks to the difficulties of selling books... Completely incomprehensible? It's about the fact that the owners of a bookshop named Tulipán (Tulip), which sells books written in Hungarian, couldn’t earn a living by this business alone, so they diversified their services into organising wine tasting events.
They invite mostly Hungarian winemakers, whose wine tastings are attended by a mixture of both Romanians and Hungarians living in the town; that’s the way it is, and not just when talking about wine. Now, however, there was a winemaker in the programme who awakened my interest. Walter Szikler, the owner and oenologist of Elite Wine from the Miniș wine region (in Hungarian, Ménesi). The Miniș wine region has seemed to be about one person, Géza Balla, for years even for decades. That is, of course, no wonder, as Géza (or as the winemaker is also known, Wine Princess) is a marvellous expert, with wonderful wines, who wants to revive the amazing wines of this region, which still typified it in the early twentieth century. Did you know, for example, that Aszú (which is now Tokaj's famous wine) was made here a long time ago, from red grapes, Kadarka to be precise? Given the above information, I am glad to see every new face which appears from this wine region, as I believe that the Miniș wine region could support as many as 20-30 high quality wineries!
But now, let’s go back to Walter Szikler, the typical Transylvanian (with not only Romanian, but also Hungarian, German and Jewish ancestors), who built up his wine estate in the northern part of the wine region between Masca and Maderat. It's interesting that although he thought it important to talk about Kadarka, the grape variety that made the wine region famous all over Europe at one time, he didn't even bring any Kadarka to the tasting. On the other hand, there were various world-famous varieties, a good atmosphere and snacks, thanks to the hosts. Next time we are going to visit the winemaker, but until then, take a look at his homepage, although as yet only available in Romanian.
And now, let’s look at the tasting notes.
Sauvignon Blanc 2013 I 79-81 points
Reserved bouquet of gooseberry and white flowers. On the palate, medium-bodied with lively acidity and a lot of citrus fruit. Fresh and crisp, but unfortunately a bit short, the citrussy acidity is perhaps a little tired on the finish.
Tramini 2013 I 80-82 points
Bouquet typical to the variety, with rose and some white-fleshed fruit. On the palate, light to medium-bodied, lively acidity, slightly surprising for the variety, a lot of citrus fruit, with a medium finish. Relatively simple wine with some residual sugar.
Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2014 I 80-82 points
Slighly one dimensional aroma of red berries, especially sour cherry. On the palate, medium-bodied, with firm structure and lively acidity, sour cherry, rose hip jam, unripe blackberry. Medium finish, the acidity is perhaps a little excessive.
Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2013 I 74-75 points
Deep, lush, overripe on the nose, with overtones of stewed fruit. On the palate, medium-bodied, sluggish, dull acidity. The stewed fruit notes dominate, some residual sugar.
Pinot Noir 2013 I 82-84 points
Dark, ‘Miniş’ colours. Aromas of red berries, sour cherry and a little raspberry. On the palate, medium-bodied, firm structure, fresh acidity, medium but still slightly excessive tannins. Flavours of unripe fruit, citrus fruits and cherry. Nice woody notes on the finish. Good flavour intensity, but due to the tannin, maybe I would lay it down for a further 3-4 years.
Pinot Noir 2011 I 80-82 points
Aromas of sour cherry, a bit of plum, clove and sweet fruitiness. On the palate, medium-bodied, firm structure, vibrant acidity and a little tannin from the barrel. Due to the acidity, mainly flavours of sour cherry and rose hip. It could be a lovely wine, but was perhaps harvested a little too early.
Miraculix 2011 I 86-87 points
Wonderfully fruity on the nose, with nice spiciness and a little coconut in the background. On the palate, medium to full-bodied, firm structure, fresh acidity, round tannins and exciting fruitiness. Long, easy drinking, youthful yet complex wine.
Merlot 2007 I 85-87 points
On the nose, rather woody notes, oaky spiciness, tobacco and tertiary aromas. On the palate, full-bodied, round acidity, ripe flavours, but tight structure. On the palate, marzipan, sour cherry, chocolate and dry leaves. Medium to long finish.
Cabernet Sauvignon + Merlot 2013 /barrel sample/ I 86-87 points
Restrained, mainly cherry on the nose. On the palate, still very young, with dominant woody notes, clove and star anise, chocolate and coconut, with fruit still in the background. Thanks to its structure, this wine has good potential to develop further.
Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 /barrel sample/ I 88-90 points
Hint of bell pepper on the nose, followed by intense black berries. On the palate, full-bodied, nice acidity, mouth-filling structure. Flavours of anise, black forest fruit, dill and sour cherry. Nicely rounded tannins, with an exceedingly long finish. A lovely wine with great promise.