Amavinum Murfatlar Pinot Noir 2005
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Amavinum Murfatlar Pinot Noir 2005 Tasting Notes

“Wine gives courage and makes men more apt for passion.”
The remark above is attributed to the Roman poet Ovid, author of the somewhat less-than-prudish masterpiece Ars Amatoria (The Art of Love). Ovid was a great cosmopolitan Roman who loved life in the big city. Historians are divided on whether it was Ovid's scandalous writings, his over-amorous nature, or some more pedestrian species of political intrigue that got him into hot water with the Emperor Augustus. Whatever the offense, Ovid suffered a punishment that for a man of his level of culture can only be considered just short of death: in 8 AD he was banished to a remote corner of the empire. Ovid spent the remaining nine years of his life in the Roman settlement of Tomis on the Black Sea, pining for the stimulation of the capital. If he had a consolation, it was the first rate quality of the local wines, which he remarked upon in his writings. Tomis today is Romania's second city, the port of Constanţa. Aptly, a fine statue of the poet stands today in the Piata Ovidiu (Ovid Square) in the center of the city. The area called Murfatlar not far from Constanţa is still known for its wines.

Romania, with many diverse growing regions, is the fifth largest producer of wine in Europe after France, Italy, Spain and Germany. Most of inland Romania sees temperature extremes associated with a continental climate. Murfatlar in the extreme southeast has a milder climate with more sunlight and less rain, coupled with moderating oceanic breezes. The soil is limestone-rich but rocky, making the vines work hard for their sustenance. Though Romania produces many wines from its own indigenous varietals, Murfatlar is staking its 21st century reputation on international varieties like Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and, in the case of this wine, Pinot Noir.

The Amavinum Murfatlar 2005 Pinot Noir, produced at the Fruvimed Medgidia Winery, lists for $11.99. The wine is 12% alcohol. The wine is a transparent, medium density purple. The nose brings a nice mix of strawberry, red plum, and raspberry, with a little clove and forest floor at the back. The wine is decidedly on the dry side (in a country known for its vinous sweet tooth). It also brings some good crisp acidity to the palate, with soft tannins and medium body. Raspberry, black raspberry, and blackcurrant flavors mix with some peppery spice and a layer of dried mushroom. The finish is moderately long, tangy with fruit, with a dry earthy tinge at the very end. This Pinot Noir is ultimately a soft friendly wine, but with its acidity and its earthy oomph it should complement a wide range of foods at a truly accessible price.

“Time is the devourer of all things,” Ovid wrote, but he would be quick to point out that the land that nurtures these grapes has not gone anywhere over the last two thousand years; it still has a way of speaking. I like to think that if he were here at this tasting table he would find a connection between this wine and the wines that brought such solace to his final exile. He would certainly appreciate the price value ratio.


Verdict: Quite a Value
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The land always has a way of speaking.

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award


Statue of Ovid

Statue of the Roman poet Ovid in the Piata Ovidiu (Ovid Square) in the center of Constanţa, Romania. Ovid enjoyed the region's wines.


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