Ask Chuck

Location: Whitby, Ontario, Canada

Born in Malta but in Canada since age 5. Has written three books and presently does several columns about wine and food for various magazines.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Romania Shows Off Its Great Wine

Romania, being part of the European Union makes it a very accessible country to visit.  Romania  offers phenomenal scenery, super friendly people and generally, reasonable costs. The scenery is outstanding with its Carpathian Mountains, historic medieval villages and lush forests.
Another thing about Romania is its wine. Strong efforts to upgrade the wine quality have more than succeeded with excellent wines made from international grape varieties as well as superb ones made from indigenous ones. Exciting also are the imaginative and artistic labels that adorn the nicely shaped bottles that house the wine. 
While I have yet to visit personally (hopefully in June of  2023), my contacts there have provided me with some interesting wine to taste and, ironically, all are available via the LCBO/SAQ of Ontario and Quebec respectively.  
I was recently introduced to an outstanding winemaker with a clear vision of where he wants to take Romanian wine and how. Paul Fulea produced his first wine in 2015 on land that was already under vine (started in 1976) but needed his alteration. He renamed his winery "Crama Histria.  The winery covers an area of over 200 Hectares.
Paul still has plans to replenish more of his vineyard as time goes by. I recently was introduced to him via Sommelier Zoltan Szabo  and immediately felt a kinship.. 
Dobrogea (or Dobruja)
The hilly Dobrogea area close to the Black Sea moderated by it! The area seems ideal for viticulture as is mentioned by Zoltan:
"Merlot planted in '76 on sandy clay at Crama Histria in picturesque Dobruja....pretty special vineyard here with North-South inclination, sitting on a plateau just above (and East of) the Black Sea...with wonderful air/wind drainage, and the impressive diurnal shift (the difference between during the day and night temperatures) maintaining/providing natural acidities... drought is an issue, giving low crop but much higher quality,...  natural yeasts/low intervention going on at this winery."

The Wine
The winery produces a number of wines made from both international and indigenous grapes. (White)
Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Muscat Ottonel, Traminer, Fateasca Regala (Red) Fateasca Neagra, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot.   
Paul sent me a sample of three bottles via his agent in Quebec--"Maison Nobleza:".

Crama Histria Riesling  2021 Dobrogea    Maison Nobleza      $24.40         88/100 points
Colour: Straw yellow, clear
Nose: Prominent citrus, fruit tree blossom, peach, orange peel
Palate: Light to almost medium body, strong citrus with influence of stone fruit, puckering acidity is tempered by a slight creamy endeavour. Nutty finish with lasting acid refresher.
Comments:  I would prefer this wine with food. The vintage date is not apparent though on website!
Pairing:  Shellfish, Fish (especially oily fish such as baked salmon, sardines), octopus, calamari, light meats such as chicken, cold cuts and vegan dishes such as grilled veggies.  
Crama Histria Negru De Histria  Dobrogea       Maison Nobleza     $26.10    90/100 points
Colour: Intense red/purple hues 
Nose: Black currants, blackberry, clove, vanilla wood
Palate: Prunes, full bodied, lovely soft mouth feel, forward tannins, well balanced with long finish.   
Comments: Lovely wine from the first sip. Vintage date not found on this bottle but agent says it is 2017. 
Pairing: Lamb, roast beef, Osso Buco, grilled beef, aged cheese 

Crama Histria Nikolaos Cab Sauv  2018  Dobrogea  LCBO# 27575   $42.95  95/100 points   
Colour: Deep dark red
Nose: Black berry, cassis, plum, wet forest floor, nuances of chocolate, black cherry and polished leather.
Palate: Full bodied, round and well integrated with soft tannin and a finish that never stops. 
Pairing:  Venison, Fillet Mignon, Roast Turkey with gravy, Roast Sirloin
Comments:   Only available at Ottawa LCBO, a truly amazing wine made with wild yeasts and babied throughout the process. Cabernet name does not appear on label but vintage is 2018. This wine is worth every penny.  Can be ordered through Maison Nobleza  (



Thursday, November 24, 2022

These California Wines Have Quality PLUS Great Value!

Trinchero Family Estate Wines
Trinchero Family Estate Wines is a NAPA wine producer with a large number of wine brands made by various successful wine makers. Two of these wine brands have proved excellent in both price and quality.  
Three Thieves 
From select vineyards in California under the guidance of three individuals who decided to make wine according to their own drum beat. The result was magnificent wine that is made with grapes from select vineyards that brings excellent price quality ratio. The "Thieves", Joel Gott, Charles Bieler and Roger Scommegna have a lot to be proud of. 

Three Thieves Pinot Noir   Central Coast California  LCBO #10424  $17.95  88/100 points
Grape: 76% Pinot Noir,  18% Syrah, 6% Petite Verdot
Colour: Red
Nose:  Floral, plum, black cherry, some mushroom, with light vanilla wood
Palate: Dry, medium to full Body, smooth tannins,  dark fruit. pleasant persistent finish
Comment: Excellent quality/price ratio and definitely worth purchasing for that special meal. I truly liked this wine and it comes at a price that can make it a frequent visitor in your household! French/American Oak.
Pairing: Turkey, pork/ham dishes, would be great with Mushroom Swiss Burger!  

Joel Gott
Joel Gott is fast becoming a demand winemaker and legend in California. His persistence in making quality wines his own way has paid off with some great value wine that is equal in quality to wine that is much higher in price. 
Joel Gott 815 Cabernet Sauvignon 2019  California   Vintages # 444059  $24.95    89/100 points
Grape: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from select California Vineyards.
Colour: Red
Nose: Dark fruit, herbal flavours, vanilla wood, chocolate nuances with anise
Palate: Full body, savory fruit, smooth tannins and balanced acidity. long pleasant finish
Comments: At $24.95 an excellent choice. It is $25.60 at the SAQ in Quebec and cost about $20 American in the U.S.A.  There is a 375 ml bottle at $14.95 (Vintages #20717) in some stores. New French Oak. 
Pairings: Moroccan Lamb, Slow cooked Roast Beef and Lamb Burgers. Also terrific with Steak on a Kaiser and Chopped Steak Burger. Even good with a medium rare Porter House of Filet Mignon.