Sunday, November 30, 2008


In all the excitement about Greengate, I forgot to tell you about Neuburger.
This is a variety of grape I had never heard of until recently in Romania. There doesn't appear to be much grown, but, according to the Mayor, who asks for it at every potential restaurant or hotel, it is the best wine produced in Romania. And it comes from Tirnave which is in our area.
I suppose Eugen must have asked for it at least a couple of dozen times in the last six months.
Alin and I set ourselves the task of finding some, after the digital topography man ( Paculia) said it was unobtainable, but, boy, what he wouldn't give for a bottle or two.
I've told you before that connection is all in Romania, and the Mayor's are better than most.
But mine and Alin's extend particularly in the catering and hospitality business, as that is what he did before working for me. We made a few phone calls and tracked down the grand total of 18 bottles that could actually be bought.
One of the peculiarities of Neuburger is that for such a rare and special wine the issue is not price. I had thought that I would have to pay perhaps £20 per bottle - after all, even quite standard French wines fall into this category.
Not a bit of it. If you can actually get your hands on a bottle, it retails for RON 15 - about £3.50.
So we got our 18 bottles together and carefully read the label - yes it was from Tirnave, yes it was demi-sec, yes it was from the right winery - but still we weren't too sure if it really, really, really was the right thing.
We went to the Mayor's office with one bottle. Eugen's eyes lit up.
Instead of the usual tumblers we drink out of, three fine wine glasses were produced. He might be on his detox but he wasn't going to miss this.
We sipped appreciatively.
Delicious. Slightly sparkling, petillant rather than actual sparkling,clean and soft and a distinctly great drinking wine.
Eugen reached for one of his phones.
" Vasily! Bring Nelu and Diac!"
Three more glasses were produced, half filled and the bottle hidden.
Vasily drank first. "I've no idea but it's very expensive"
Diac next -" Very very good. Could be Neuburger"
" Neuburger!" shouted Vasily and Nelu together. " Can it be?" It was a moment rather like my yellow shoes, the Clujana.
So then in silence we finished the bottle,and all shook hands. The three filed out.
" How wonderful you found a bottle!"
" I've got 6 more for you." Eugen sank into his chair.
" Now that's what I call a connection", he said.


Winchester whisperer said...

Which vintage?

kinglear said...

ww- 2006

Brian Boru said...

It seems that Romania is a bit of a basket case economically and is one of the most corrupt countries in Europe. Is that your experience?

kinglear said...

BB - no not really. It's 15 years behind everyone else because of Ceaucescu. 80 odd % of the population are reliant on subsistence agriculture, so they have a long way to go. Everything is connection - because bureaucracy is strangling, and you need a connection to get through it. Its a great place - even if everything takes time.