Budureasca: A Massive and Modern Winery from Dealu Mare, Romania
In the wine industry, there is an endless pursuit to discover wines, new producers, or the latest style and experiment that will leave our hearts and palates aflutter. We are eager to discover something new, or perhaps go back to where thing all began and evaluate how old wine producing countries are revitalizing themselves. And, when we think about the Old World, a good a place to start as any, is Romania.
Romania has had a bit of a turbulent past, which made it difficult to be taken seriously as a quality wine region. After phylloxera and military occupation, much of what was planted in the 1960’s and 70’s was selected for quantity and frost resistance, rather than wine quality. Things have been moving progressively upwards the past thirty years thanks to an increasing number of privatized wineries and an effort in planting vines destined for qualitative wines. In 2016, Romania was ranked 5th in Europe in terms of wine production, with 3.3 million hectolitres, according to the OIV.
With a rich history that dates back to 4000 years, interesting indigenous grape varieties, and new up and coming wineries, it seems that Romanian wine is only starting to showcase its future as a quality wine region. Budureasca, one of the largest producers in Romania, recently promoted their wines with an elegant dinner at Bar George here in Montreal. Many wine professionals from around the city were hosted by Budureasca’s marketing director Olga Miloiu and winemaker Stephen Donnelly.
Budureasca is located in the Dealu Mare DOC , in the area of Muntenia. Dealu Mare means ‘big hill’ and some of Budureasca’s vineyards indeed, reach up to 400 meters in elevation. This, along with a considerable amount of calcareous soil, make it suited to varieties such as cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah and indigenous varieties such as feteasca negra and the two white varieties; fetesca alba and feteasca regala.
Budureasca only started exporting wine about 5 years ago, and has gradually increased its export, and are available here in Quebec. 17% of their business goes to export, with a goal of reaching 25% in the next 3 years. The wines that are sold aren’t necessarily cheap and they are proud to say that they make mid to high end products.
Budureasca has one of the best equipped wineries in the area, and definitely the most modern. Their cellar covers 5200 square meters, annual production and storage capacity of 300 million litres of wine and has a bottling capacity of several thousand bottles per hour. Impressive.
While the winery, production stats, and numerous awards are indeed notable, how would the wine stand up to the experienced palates of wine professionals, journalists and sommeliers here?
I believe it was a general feeling, amongst our table at least, with the disappointment in the lack of wine representing indigenous varieties. Of the 5 samples poured, 3 were native to Romania. The rest were international varieties that may or may not have had an indigenous grape in the blend. Some of wines we sampled were lacking character and excitement. Over extraction, prominence of oak in the reds, and the aftertaste of the alcohol left a bitter taste on my palate. While I can understand and appreciate that there is a place in the market for consumers who enjoy these bolder styles of wine, I wonder if Budureasca would venture into being a little more experimental and take risks to stand out and set itself apart; to try and develop wines that do not taste like….well, everything else.
Two of my personal favorites of the tasting were coincidentally, indigenous varieties to Romania, and both white. The Tamâioasa Româneasca Premium 2017, which displayed a lot of vibrancy and grace, with nice flavours and acidity, making it versatile in the sense that they can be enjoyed nicely on their own for easy drinking or paired wonderfully with a variety of dishes. The second – the sweet Tamâioasa Româneasca Bristena 2017, was very attractive given the balance of fruit intensity, acidity, and sweetness.
Overall, I feel like Budureasca is playing it safe when it comes to their production. With their modern winery, ideal climate and a talented wine making team, Budureasca has every opportunity to be making wines that express authenticity, complexity and energy; wines that express a taste of Romania. I am not suggesting that only indigenous varieties equate to quality, it’s simply to say that perhaps they should attempt making wines that are a little more honest and rustic, no matter what the varietal.
I would like to point out, that Budureasca has a large range of wines in their portfolio, while I had the opportunity to sample 5. I very much look forward to tasting more when they return for La Grande Degustation de Montreal this fall.
A genuine thank you to Budureasca for the wonderful opportunity and evening at Bar George. If this post has peaked your curiosity, you can find Budureasca wines through private import via Aurelian Mantu from agency Maximpex, or visit Budureasca’s website at:
* All photos are credited to Budureasca
Tamâioasa Româneasca Premium 2017
The nose is quite pleasant, having notes of lime, passionfruit and white flowers. The palate cuts right through to citrus with intense lime, grapefruit with layers of lychee and with mouth-watering salinity. The palate is round yet very refreshing leading to nice crisp and refreshing finish. This is their most successful and popular wine internationally, and in Romania.
Reserve Cuvée Origini 2015
The best grapes go into this blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and shiraz. The nose is attractive displaying sweet black cherries, and blackberries with whiffs of cocao nibs and soft spices. The full bodied palate has soft tannins, intense blackberry, black cherry fruit merging with notes of chocolate and earth. Slightly unbalanced as the wine lacks some restraint and acidity, finishing with the taste of oak and alcohol. It’s a big wine, needing a meal with bold flavours.
Noble 5 2016
Great fruit intensity showing blackberries, and notes of chocolate covered cherries and cranberries with spiciness and raspy tannins for added texture and complexity. The oak is very evident and takes away from the wine as does that little tinge of alcohol on the palate. The finish is quite nice, with an endearing tarty flavour of red current. The wine has seen a mixture of French, American and Romanian oak. Everything is fermented separately then one year in barrel before blending.
Feteasca Neagra Premium 2016
This grape has comparison to shiraz, but the DNA testing shows they are unsure about where this grape actually comes from. It can be a bit of a fussy grape to grow and very unpredictable with colour on any given year, and does not do well with heat. This particular grape achieves better phenolic ripeness in cooler vintages.
Aromas of cherries, raspberries, strawberries with bits of fried fig and raisins in the mix. The medium palate has flavours much the same, with added notes of earth and an overwhelming taste of oak. The wine had high grained tannin and medium acidity. The wine finishes on intense black fruit and vanilla.
Tamâioasa Româneasca Bristena 2017
Beautiful sweet flavours of lychee, candied lemon, and ripe pear with white flowers and bits of ginger. Lots of body, intense fruit flavours and subtle saltiness on a very long and pleasant finish. A very vibrant, and delicious wine.