Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Romanian Pinot Noir: A Surprising Star.

By Joe Mandrell

Snob and curmudgeon that I am, I’m always highly dubious of anything labelled “pinot noir”, especially if it costs less than a tenner. I’ve been proven wrong on a few occasions, but as a lifestyle choice, I think it’s much safer to just avoid cheap pinot.

So, imagine my surprise and delight when a bottle of La Catina Romanian Pinot Noir turned up on my desk. Romanian pinot noir? A country long associated with bulk-produced swill destined for vodka-sodden Russkies, and a capricious, fussy grape that requires constant love, reassurance and attention? My hopes were not high.

However, wine is nothing if not a journey of discovery and adventure, so in this spirit, I dived in, fully prepared for a mouthful of tart, stalky juice.

How wrong I was!

La Catina's 2009 vintage is a bright, almost blushing shade of ruby red, with a very typical pinot nose: full of strawberries and cherries and raspberries, but all very delicate and pretty. The palate was smooth and quite juicy, with just a hint of vanilla cream from what was obviously very careful use of oak. The finish had a clean, refreshing acidity – like eating a good handful of Scottish raspberries.

Pinot noir is such a tricky wine to recommend. People tend to expect an unctuous fruit bomb, and are disappointed when it doesn’t deliver. But if you like a little finesse, and don’t want to spend the earth, try this - it’s currently on sale at The Wine Society for £6.95. There is balance and subtlety and elegance to the wine, and it is an absolute bargain.

Romania, huh? Who’d have thought it?

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