Romania was one of the old 'Eastern Bloc' countries which had begun to make inroads into the British wine market in the 1980s, but which was stalled in its efforts when the fall of communism drained resources and opportunities from producers. Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, Romania has seen a surge of investment, both local and international. There is great opportunity here.
La Catina is an estate owned by major British importer and distributor Halewood Vintners and they have made something of a specialism of pinot noir, a grape variety that offers so many rewards but which is undoubtedly tricky to make well. Romania has a history of producing good, fresh and fruity pinot at sensible prices and La Catina is showing what can be done.
Named for the buckthorn shrubs (catina in Romanian) which surround the vineyards and act as a windbreak, together with an abundance of cherry trees, La Catina comes from what is generally considered to be Romania's best red wine producing area, Dealu Mare. On the same latitude as Bordeaux and Piedmont, there is much potential yet to be realised here. The vines grow in limestone soils rich in marine fossils and, crucially, enjoy cool nights to balance the warm daytime temperatures, retaining freshness in the grapes over the long growing season. Everything is hand harvested and the resulting wines spend six months in French oak to impart a gentle touch to the light, bright berry fruit.