Cramele Recas is a large winery in Romania (1250 hectares of estate vineyards, production of 25 million bottles), making modern, market-friendly wines from a significant vineyard resource. I featured them last year because of the natural wines that they had been making: it’s unusual for a big company to make natural wine, especially in relatively large quantities.
I tried some of the new releases with Philip Cox, one of the owners, and looked at the latest vintage of the Orange Natural Wine. This was their first natural wine, and they followed it up with a ‘Glou Glou’ red, both of which are made from organic grapes without any additions. Cox says that they are now probably the biggest producer of natural wines in Eastern Europe. They’ve been making natural wines for five years now, and production of the orange wine was 120 000 bottles in 2019, and 200 000 bottles in 2020.
The change in 2020 is that they have been using 900 litre amphorae for the first time, and 15% of the blend went through these.
‘We’ve decided to certify organic,’ says Cox of the grapes used to make the natural wines. ‘We got into lots of disputes. One German local regional government took us to court because we said the wines were natural but we didn’t have organic certification.’ Cox is trying to get the government to
Solara Organic Orange Natural Wine 2020 Romania
13% alcohol. This is a blend of Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc. 15% of the blend was fermented and aged in 900 litre amphorae, the rest in stainless steel. Sweet aromas of barley sugar, grapes, pears and a hint of spice. The palate has some nice texture with a bit of grip as well as stony undercurrents to the pear and apple fruit. There’s some green tea, too. Light, fruity, expressive and quite complex. 88/100
Dealuri Feteascā Regalā 2020 Romania
11.5% alcohol. £4.99 Aldi. 10 g/l residual sugar. The most widely planted grape variety in Romania. Aromatic and fruity with a terpenic grapey character as well as fine herbs and good acidity, countered by just a touch of sweetness. Pure and fruit driven, and an amazing bargain. 86/100
Dealuri Premium Rosé 2020 Romania
12% alcohol. £4.99 Aldi. This is a mix of lots of varieties. Pale pink in colour, it is primary and fruit-driven with some pear drop and citrus, as well as a hint of strawberry. Soft on the mid-palate with a touch of sweetness bringing out the fruity notes, but finishes with good acidity. Lovely purity here. 85/100
Solomonar Reserve 2019 Romania
14.5% alcohol. £8.99 Majestic. This is a blend of Feteasca Negra and Merlot. One quarter is in new French oak for six months and the rest is aged with staves. The approach is to make one tank very oaky and then blend it back. 9 g/litre residual sugar. This is rich dark and spice and has some sweet strawberry and blackberry and cherry fruit. It’s quite seductive in style with notes of cedar, clove, vanilla and spice, with a grippy finish. I really don’t like this, because of the clumsy oak (it tastes of staves), and the sugar papering over the cracks, but apparently it has been selling really well. 82/100