Prince Stirbey were a regular order at dinner.
At the recent London International Wine Fair, I got to meet one of the people behind Prince Stirbey and learnt that the aristocratic name of the winery is no mere affectation.
Drăgăşani in the south-west of the country, dates back to the 18th century, but is currently undergoing a renaissance through good practices and the creation of wines with character, individuality and a sense of terroir.
The vineyards are set on an idyllic hillside overlooking a lake, at an elevation of around 300 hundred metres which provides much better conditions for viticulture than lower down, as the altitude provides coolness in summer thus lengthening the growing season with milder temperatures in winter and breezes to keep vineyard pests at bay.
The winery is completely family-run and was built by Baroness Ileana's grandfather in an Italian-Tuscan style.
I opted to sample my way through the reds and started with a Novac.
This grape is local to the Drăgăşani area and is a hybrid which includes Saperavi as one of its parents. With dark berries on the nose, the palate shows more dark berry fruit, dark chocolate and pepper with good acidity and tannins.
The Negru de Dragasani is also a local variety and showed good plummy fruit and pepperiness.
Overall, the most interesting wine here is the Novac, available from www.thedailydrinker.co.uk at £12.50.
Prince Stirbey - http://www.stirbey.com/index.php?lang=en