On Monday 19th  January 2015 the WING group met to taste Eastern European Wines, guided by Yvonne.

Many of us remember former days of quaffing surprisingly supple and cheap Bulgarian reds, and rather less interesting whites. The reds seem to have been – how shall I put it? – an anomaly, and never quite repeated… But how are wines from this part of the world now?

Yvonne showed us £9 – £12 examples from Slovenia, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Romania and Hungary. The first 4 are from the Wine Society, the last 2 from Waitrose.

Here are my notes:

Rizling 2011 (Dveri Pax)  –  Slovenia 12.5%
This is the local “Renski Rizling”, which I am informed is a clone of real Riesling. Quite a flowery nose at first, then some tropical fruit hints. Slightly spritzy with a warm linseed hint on the palate, good acidity and balanced. Still holds up when warm showing a peachy hint too… Probably my favourite of the evening.

Šipon Furmint 2012 (Dveri Pax)  –  Slovenia 12.5%
We think of the Furmint from Hungarian Tokai, but the grape is grown also in Austria and Slovenia.
This wine has a, slightly sweet, apple nose, with a hint of musty “cloth”. Quite apple-ish acidity on the palate with a warm, rich texture a little reminiscent of Chenin. Despite the texture a drying acidity in the mouth and a late sweet hint – echoing the grape’s sweet-wine fame. Good

Cuvee Bella Rada (Borovitza) –  Bulgaria 13%
This is from Rkatsitelli – which is actually a Georgian grape, where about 40% of the world’s plantings are still to be found. Most of the rest is evenly divided between Ukraine, Moldova and Bulgaria.
This wine shows powdery floral notes – with hints of oak and peachy fruit. A thin-ish base with oaky / nutty / oily elements, cut by sharp, stone fruit, acidity. OK, but a little over-worked….

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Plantaze Vranac 2011 –  Montenegro 13%
Vranac is quite a common grape all over the former Yugoslavia.
This example has Germoline notes, hints of oak and a farmyard note later. The palate is rather coarse, with a vaguely Merlot-ish balance, grainy texture, and a drying palate. There is a little spice character but nothing to recommend further exploration of the grape, IMO.

Teleki Villanyi Cuvee 2012 ­–  Hungary 14%
This is a blend of Cabernets – Sauvignon and Franc – with Kekfrankos. This last grape is in fact  Blaufrankisch, famous for deep reds in Austria. In fact there is twice as much over the border in Hungary going by the Kekfrankos name.
This has berry fruit driving it, with a hint of earthy, stalky notes on the nose (from the Franc?), and a sweet palate cut by spicy, alcohol warmth. Otherwise there is little varietal character to this – a modern, fruit-driven red that is…at best… OK.

Tore Rika Merlot Reserva 2011 –  Romania 14%
This has some Merlot character, but fruit-driven, oaked, New World Merlot! Germoline, vanilla and some nondescript fruit on the nose and first palate. The middle palate washes out rather quickly leaving a rather gritty, dry fruit. Nothing special, but perhaps the most well-made of the reds.

A very interesting tasting which seemed to show that while whites have improved and added some interesting wines to the pantheon, the reds seemed to have just got more international (and more expensive) without adding much in either value or distinctiveness. So a mixed result really…

Thanks so much Yvonne…….

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