By Rob Marshall
Before MEGA IMAGE exploded onto the urban retail scene, there was a time when avocados were unknown entities and locating a packet of garam masala was like discovering gold dust. Finding a decent bottle of wine was also a challenge, and whilst kiosks and mini markets were well-stocked with sweet and semi-sweet Romanian wine made by big industrial sized wineries, it was still a struggle to find an affordable and decent bottle of plonk.
With its range of store concepts, which currently includes six wine galleries, MEGA IMAGE has led the way in bringing a greater selection of products to a growing group of younger, more curious, and often well-travelled consumers, in search of good value wines that reflect new tastes and trends.
OZB has picked out 5 Romanian wines, all under 10 euros, which you can find in MEGA IMAGE stores – from Wine Gallery to Shop and Go outlets, guaranteed to give a decent glass, and not to damage your bank balance.
Avincis – Vila Dobrusa Rose 2018 – 27.85 lei (5.8 Euro)
Avincis has established itself as one of the most consistent and qualitative Romanian wine producers with high end wines made from local Dragașani varieties such as Crâmpoșie Selecționată and Negru de Dragașani. Luckily for those of us on a budget they have a wonderful fresh range available for retail outlets. This rose is dry and supple with a small amount of extraction from the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes which gives a vibrant pink hue and flavours candied berries and forest fruit aromas.
Crama Gîrboiu – Livia Șarbă 2018 – 23.17 RON (4.80 euro)
Who says you can’t find a good, dry white wine, made with indigenous grapes, for under 5 euros? This nice floral, fresh, crisp white is made by Crama Gîrboiu, a winery in Vrancea, North-East Romania. Less well known than other local varieties, such as Fetească regală and albă, șarbă delivers the same light fruity aromas of ripe, white peach with a hint of elderflower. This is not a big bold white wine, so if you like confident and creamy Chardonnays then it may not be to your taste. However, if you are prone to the simple delights of, for example, a nice uncomplicated Pinot Grigio to slake your thirst after a hard day of toil, then Livia Șarbă is perfect. Always drink the latest vintage, these delicate whites are not for laying down, and it comes with a convenient screw cap, so you can enjoy a fresh glass across a couple of evenings, however it’s so easy drinking you will probably be back at the shop buying another bottle within the hour.
Nativus – Zghihară de Averești (Huși), 2018 – 37.99 RON (8 Euro)
There is a commonly accepted theory that one of the reasons Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio sell in such high volumes in the UK is because they both have the advantages of having ‘foreign sounding’ names, which provide the necessary spritz of continental escapism, yet are easy to pronounce for the less confident and timorous tongues of British drinkers. By this token try and pronounce Zghihară de Huși – a local variety from the Moldavian region of Romania. It may be a mouthful to say but this grape makes zippy and zesty, dry whites with mass appeal. Forget pronunciation faux pas – if you like refreshing wines, light in body, with tart gooseberry taste, then boldly say – Zghihară de Huși!
Rasova – La Plage Roze 2018 – 31.99 lei (6.65 Euro)
Taking inspiration in both name and style from the roses of southern France, La Plage is a delicate, fruity and easy to drink rose that pairs perfectly with everything from paella to pizza to prawn crackers. Made from the internationally renowned varieties of Syrah (Shiraz) and Pinot Noir, by Crama Rasova (a winery with spectacular views over the Danube River) it comes in an elegant bottle with a nice label, that is certain to mark you as a relevant and trendy wine drinker. Perfect for spring and summer and Instagram posts.
Crama Ceptura – Cervus Magnus Monte – Fetească Neagră 2017 – 31.82 RON (6.60 Euro)
You are always guaranteed to find a generous selection of wines in MEGA IMAGE’s larger stores and Wine Galleries, however if you need a fast buy from a smaller store, or Shop and Go outlet, then try this smooth, fruity red from Crama Ceptura. The label may not be the most inspiring, but the wine is excellent value with expressive red fruit flavours and a hint of dried plum, which is typical of Fetească Neagră, Romania’s flagship red grape variety. Crama Cepturi is owned by Moldovan wine producers Purcari, which also produce a range of affordable, quality wines. If you are struggling to find a fast solution to quench your Friday night thirst, then you can be rest assured that these wines won’t disappoint.
Budureasca – Zenovius. Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz 2016 – 46.99 RON (9.75 Euro)
A blend of two bold and beefy red varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz from Budureasca, one of the larger producers from the Dealu Mare region. A portion of Zenovius has spent time aging in Romanian and American oak barrels that offer a subtly different character to the wines. This approach to ageing and blending is influenced by winemaker Stephen Donelly’s time spent making wine in California and South Africa, and a this no-nonsense, robust and fruit filled wine style can be enjoyed across the entire range of Budureasca wines. If you enjoy the confident notes of this red, but fancy a white, then also try the Budureasca Fume – a varietal combo of buttery Chardonnay, lithe Sauvignon blanc and textured Pinot Gris.