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Romania’s Prince Stirbey has a fascinating story – the historic estate was seized and nationalised during the dark days of communist rule in Romania and was later reclaimed and revived by Princess Ileana Stirbey (the estate’s rightful ancestral owner) and Baron Jakob Kripp. We’re grateful they did, because this mouthwateringly juicy red – a cross of local negru and saperavi grapes – is a truly unique find.
Product Code: RO221
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Prince Stirbey wines are not just royal by name: this fantastic range of Romanian wines is produced by Princess Ileana – granddaughter of Princess Maria Stirbey – and her husband, Baron Jakob Kripp. They began winemaking in 1999 after reclaiming and reviving the historical family property, the winery of which had been designed in a Tuscan style by Princess Ileana’s grandfather, Prince Barbu Alexandru Stirbey.The completely family-run winery is set in the foothills of the Transylvanian Alps near Dragasani, where the family has owned vineyards for around 300 years. Prince Barbu Alexandru actually left an admirable legacy to the winemaking world: after phylloxera ravaged vineyards in the early 20th century, he owned one of the largest nurseries in Romania, which helped to graft local varieties.Although the Kripps’ philosophy is obviously to pay respect to the royal ancestors that founded the winery, their winemaking ambition is even greater than that: they are so passionate about achieving the local grapes’ full potential, they only produce single-varietal wines to give each variety an opportunity to shine.They have as much respect for the grapes as they do for the terroir: they believe in genius loci – ‘the spirit of the place’ – and therefore feel that nature can make a better wine than any technical intervention. To this end, they use minimal chemicals in the vineyard, and only harvest and treat the vines by hand. The red novac grape – first grown here – works well on the region’s loamy soil, and Prince Stirbey grows it on east-facing slopes to benefit from the freshness of the morning sun. It isn’t easy to grow even here, and it is equally demanding in the winery, but Stirbey has worked hard with German winemaker Oliver Bauer to bring out its best elements. They’ve found success ageing it for around a year in large non- new oak barrels, which retains the grape’s tannins and helps the complex characters develop gently. The family’s most successful white grape is the native tamâioasa româneasca – a relative of muscat – which makes both dry and sweet wines. Ileana and Jakob have found it grows best on the dark red cool loam and limestone soils on their south-facing vineyards, which enhances the grape’s natural floral, aromatic spiciness and refreshing acidity.Although the cellar dates back to the early 1900s, it has very much been brought into the 21st century: Stirbey now uses stainless-steel tanks, has a collection of oak barrels of various sizes with which to age its wines, uses a sterile bottling line, and benefits from a gentle pneumatic press which helps retain the grapes’ natural aromas.
"This wine uses a particular grape of Romania. Clearly not all reviewers taste, but I really rate this wine. It’s different in a sea of same old same old wines."
I would recommend this wine
"The worst wine I've had from the Wine Society, a bit disgruntled this has been sent as an award winning case of Eastern European wines."
"Instantly recognisable as Eastern European, rather rustic with some harsh edges. Distinctive and will appeal to some, but not a crowd pleaser. "
There are no press reviews for this product.
"Colour: Dark cherry red with a purple rim.
Aroma: Fruit driven at first, red and black forest fruits, cherry, cola, coconut and chocolate/liquorice sweets that develops more tertiary notes of dried leaves, smoke and tobacco.
Taste: Med-bodied, good acidity, fine-grained tannin adding texture. A blend of fruit, smoke and tobacco on the palate, good lingering finish.
Overall: A lot to like, the oak, fruit and tannin are nicely balanced, strong palate and finish, like a cru Beaujolais, worth the money, recommend."
Mr Gabriel Higgins (08-Jun-2019)
Decanter (27th Apr 2019)
specialises in local grape varieties. This rare novac, with its streamlined
pinot noir-like structure, brims with cherry, rosehip, mulberry, light pepper
spice and subtle citrus-orange. Give it some air for optimal finesse. - Darrel Joseph"
The Independent (6th Mar 2019)
"... combines the
local negru grape with the lovely Georgian saperavi grape to produce a rich,
strong, aromatic and full bodied wine that stays on the right side of
freshness. Good for roasted meats and casseroles, it’s a real warming wine to
keep out the cold on a Transylvanian night and, once again, punches above its
weight on price. - Terry Kirby"
The Times (23rd Feb 2019)
cedary, violet-scented… a negru and saperavi cross getting my vote. - Jane MacQuitty"
Sunday Express (10th Jun 2018)
"Pure and delicious, this red is a traditional Romanian [grape] bringing together the negru and saperavi grapes. Vivid in colour, it has a slight tarry edge to the strong berry fruits."
The Mail on Sunday (30th Dec 2017)
"Red star. Rare
Romanian red, juicy and structured. Pour and explore! - Olly Smith"
JancisRobinson.com (16th Oct 2017)
"Local negru with
saperavi. Bright crimson. Something a little unfamiliar (but not bad) and
occluded about the nose of this. Sour-berry note but well made, well balanced
and certainly clean. Distinctive. Good value 16/20 Jancis Robinson"
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