«Minis Terrios»: fairytale wines by Dan Prisacaru

by Anghelina-Taran

The collection created under the «Minis Terrios» brand includes three wines that send us to the world of fairytales. First appeared «Roșu Împărat», 2015, named after a character from «Povestea lui Harap Alb» («The Story of the White Moor») by Ion Creanga, the «Red Emperor». In 2016, «Negru Împărat» wine was created; if there is Roșu (red), then why not Negru (black), too. In 2018, «Harap Alb» (the white moor) was born, as a hero from the same tale. The vintner tried to create the characters of these wines to match their names.  

«Roșu Împărat», 2017

The first wine, «Roșu Împărat», 2015 (Feteasca Neagră, Rara Neagră, Cabernet Sauvignon)  was a success and it was quickly sold out. But, despite the seemingly guaranteed sales for the following harvest – 2016, Dan Prisacaru decided not to produce such a wine that year, because he did not have Feteasca neagră grapes (the winemaker outsources the first two varieties of this blend). 

In 2017, I bought Feteasca Neagră grapes, but decided not to use anymore Rara Neagră grapes, as this variety is very moody, and replaced it with Merlot, says the author of the wine. The proportions are almost the same, as the first time: Feteasca Neagră – 56%, Merlot – 32%, Cabernet Sauvignon – 12%. The raw wine of Feteasca Neagră and Cabernet Sauvignon aged together in oak barrel for 12 months, and Merlot for 14 months. 35% of barrels were new, the rest of them were at the second and third fill. I only use French oak it is very expensive, but very good. In 2015, I experimented with one barrel of Krasnodar oak, but the tannins were too aggressive after aging in it, although its volume was 400 liters, not 225. Therefore, I prefer French oak. All components of the assemblage went through malolactic fermentation. We produced a total of 2800 bottles. «Roșu Împărat», 2017 was exported to Japan, Denmark, Lithuania, Germany and China».  

The wine was bottled in April 2019, but it was quickly sold out. Hurry to buy the last bottles available on the domestic market. 

The wine is deep ruby​​. I recommend decanting. After 30 minutes, I poured from the decanter. Thick legs flow down the sides of the glass. The wine bouquet contains aromas of bitter black wild cherries, dried plums, black pepper, dried cherries, black currants, jam. I’ve left it to breathe in the decanter: aromas of violet, blackthorn, notes of eucalyptus, some cinnamon and vanilla have appeared in the bouquet. It is beautifully showing up.

The wine has a lively acidity, middle body, mature tannins. After the decanter, it became very soft. In the taste: cherries; finish – cherry pits. In the aftertaste – shades of chocolate.  

«Negru Împărat», 2017

A Bordeaux blend, proportion of Merlot – 50% and Cabernet Sauvignon – 50%, same as in «Negru Împărat», 2016. Grapes were grown in own vineyard, the vines were planted in 2007, managed to grow stronger.

Two grape varieties were processed separately and underwent through malolactic fermentation, Dan Prisacaru says. Differently from the previous harvest, this wine was aged in oak barrels longer, but there were fewer new barrels. While in 2016 the share of new barrels was 75%, in 2017 – only 35%. Therefore, the aging of the first wine lasted 12 months, and of the second – 14 months. As a result, wines slightly differ in alcohol content – 14.8% and 14.3%, respectively (14% is written on the label). «Negru Împărat», 2016 has already been sold out, and the sale of 2017 vintage has just started (bottling took place in  August 2019 and 5300 bottles were produced) and exports to Denmark and China have already been arranged».

The wine is dark ruby and it leaves thick and heavy slow legs on the sides of the glass. The first nose delivered ripe black berries. After that, I poured the wine into a decanter.

If you pour the wine into a glass immediately after decanting, you can feel leather aromas and earthy shades. In an empty glass, there are animal shades, then berries appear and afterwards sweet vanilla. I came back to this glass three hours later by chance (to wash it) and discovered in it a pleasant smell of hot chocolate.

I left the wine to breathe in the decanter. After an hour in the decanter, dried plum notes opened, two hours later dried cherry, three hours later soft scents of mint, dry tobacco leaves, then black pepper appeared. Four hours later black tea aromas. Such an interesting evolution.

The wine has a lively acidity. It is still young, with perky tannins and an average body. In the taste (after three hours of decantation) there is a slight astringency, cherry notes which turn into notes of cherry pits. In the aftertaste shades of dark chocolate. Grilled steak would match well with «Negru Împărat», 2017. 

This wine could be left aside to age for a couple of years in a nice cool cellar, if you manage to buy it, of course. Dan could have left it for bottle aging and sell it more expensive two years later. But for a small producer it’s hard to freeze funds for a long time, so he sells everything on the go.

«Harap Alb, 2018»

It was first Dan’s experience with Blanc de Noirs. The name of the fairytale character (Harap Alb – White Moor) gave the idea – white from black. Red grape varieties (with black berries), Cabernet Sauvignon (85%) and Feteasca Neagră (15%), gave birth to the white wine «Harap Alb», 2018.

This wine made its debut at the spring edition of the «Wine Vernissage 2019», it even did not have a label yet. In August, it participated in «Mundus Vini Summer Tasting` 2019» competition and won a silver medal. At the winter edition of the «Wine Vernissage 2019», the last bottles were poured into the glasses of the guests. It is no longer on sale. In total, less than 3 thousand bottles were produced. «Harap Alb», 2018 was sold in Moldova and exported to Japan and Denmark.  

Cabernet Sauvignon and Feteasca Neagră grapes were processed separately. They aged for two months with batonnage. The alcohol content in the wine was 12.5% ​​ and the acidity – 6.2 g/l. Those who like this wine will have to wait until February, when the next vintage will be bottled. In 2019, we produced «Harap Alb» from the same varieties and in the same proportion”, the winemaker explained.

The wine is light yellow with a slight peach tint. The thick legs on the sides of the glass indicate a good body coming from the red grape varieties.

The first nose delivers white fruits. In the bouquet: apricot, white flowers (lilac), gooseberries, some notes of citrus.

«Harap Alb», 2018 has good intensity, with a pleasant acidity in the taste, in which shades of fresh, dense, not quite ripe apricot and summer apple are guessed. In the long aftertaste – apricot kernels. An interesting wine in which red varieties were processed as white, an intrigue.

Where to buy it?

In Chișinău wine shops, «Vincuvin» online store, «№1» hypermarket, «Fourchette» supermarkets and «Rogob» chain. 

«Familia mea»

«Minis Terrios» wines were produced at a small winery in Chișinău, founded in 2013 by Dan and Diana Prisacaru (at the beginning, the company was called «Divib Media», now – Familia mea). One year earlier, they had completed their master’s degree studies in Dijon (France). They used to buy grapes when they started, but then they acquired 15 hectares of vineyards in the Haragâș village in Cantemir district, including 5 hectares of technical varieties. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot were planted in 2007, Sauvignon Blanc – in 2008.

So far, this small business, like the rest of members of the Association of Small Wine Producers, does not have enough resources of its own, therefore it enjoys the support provided to these entrepreneurs by the «Moldova Competitiveness Project» (funded by USAID and the Government of Sweden). «Familia mea» was provided a «Bucher Vaslin» press, as a grant. From the mobile equipment acquired by the «Moldova Competitiveness Project» to be shared by the small wineries – members of the Association of Small Winemakers, this company uses more frequently the bottle capping machine.

The support also includes marketing activities, such as collective participation of small producers in various exhibitions and competitions. Sending samples to international competitions is an expensive pleasure, but thanks to the sponsorship provided by the National Office of Vine and Wine and the «Moldova Competitiveness Project», the wines of Dan Prisacaru have participated in competitions and won medals. The wines «Roșu Împărat» and «Negru Împărat» from the previous harvests have won gold medals in Germany and Romania.

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