Some of this year’s Halloween costumes were quite imaginative I would say, but there’s no doubt the Dracula theme was the most trending one when it came to the decorations and outfits used on the last day of October. The spooky setting mixed with the amount of drinks that I consumed on Halloween’s night made a quick association in my brain: Dracula + reds = Romanian wine. Or as I like to call it "Hallowine".
Probably most of you will know that Bram Stoker’s uber-famous character in his 1897 novel, Dracula was inspired by Vlad III Dracula (also known as Vlad the Impaler), prince of Wallachia. Vlad, known for his excessive cruelty was born in Transylvania… you can see where this one is going. I’m pretty certain Dracula is the first thing that pops into most people’s mind when they hear the word “Transylvania”, but obviously blood isn’t the most typical beverage people drink in Romania. As an ironic disappointment perhaps, it isn’t red wine either. The country is famous for its vineyards, however, the terroir is more habitable for some of the white grape varieties which account for 70% of the wine produced in Romania.
Seems like Romanians do not mind the colour of the wine though, as they drink the vast majority of it themselves. In fact, only 5% of the entire wine production gets exported, so finding Romanian wine on sale at your local bottle-o is close to impossible. Dan Murphy’s, however, is one of the few places who lists a handful of them, available for online purchases only. Interestingly, and on the same note not very surprisingly, the majority of the available reds and whites are produced by Paparuda, a wine made by an Aussie and a Spaniard. The winery itself, Cramele Recas is located in Transylvania, where the cool climate is perfect to grow "Feteasca Regala", a hybrid variety between Feteasca Alba and Grasa, both of which are also native to Romania.
The 2012 vintage Paparuda Feteasca Regala is a unique, deliciously crisp, medium bodied white wine. It’s well balanced with aromas of tropical fruit and a long dry finish on the palate. In my opinion this wine is a good introduction to Romanian whites and at $14 a bottle it’s pretty reasonably priced as well considering it’s an import. Cellarit also stocks some Paparuda wines, which you can buy for about $20 a bottle.
Romanian vineyards hosts all the noble grapes, but I would recommend that you look for the native varieties such as Feteasca Alba, Feteasca Regala, Grasa, Babeasca Neagra and Feteasca Neagra. Wines from these grapes became top products for local producers, and experts from the trade believe that the Feteasca Neagra is the variety which will bring fame to Romania’s wine industry.
Unfortunately, the only store I managed to find some Feteasca Neagra was at Romwine.com.au, who currently sells them from three different wineries for between $30 and $35 a bottle. Feteasca Neagra is a dark and spicy full bodied wine which ages very well, with a deep red ruby colour and dominating flavours of black berries. If you're into reds and like to experiment, this is one of the upcoming wine celebrities you should not miss out on.