Romania is housing a couple of boutique wineries, most inspired by a New World approach. Some of these even have hired foreign winemakers who are eager to experiment and bring their know-how to create local brands.
Thesaurus has become the second home of David Lockley, a winemaker from South Africa. He first became interested in Romania in the 80’s and worked here in 2003. He was in a number of different Romanian wineries and abroad (Crimea) before settling in Banat at Thesaurus, where he got the full trust of the owners in 2014. His childhood passion for wine transformed into a lifestyle which includes everything from vineyard work to cellar tours and even sales. The winery distinguishes by an artisanal approach towards creating wines suited for the modern, urban consumer. Let’s discover step by step this small jewel hidden among the hills of Silagiu.
Thesaurus – The Place
If you ever dreamed of waking up on an Insta-perfect terrace overlooking a sun-drowned vineyard, pack your bags and set your GPS for Thesaurus winery, located just 30 km away from Timisoara. This small family-owned winemaking facility doubles as a great weekend getaway. You can take up to five friends for a wine tasting and reconnect with nature experience. You won’t be disappointed since the people behind the business are not only focused on profit, they are more concerned with quality instead of just making a quick buck.
The elegant guest house with three bedrooms, a generous covered terrace, and a smaller open terrace offers the perfect environment for relaxation, teambuilding or getting away from the big town. Lush green dominates the entire ensemble, and you are just two steps away from the vines. If you go around the harvesting season, you can even try the juicy grapes or get lost in the maze of colors.
The on-premise cellar, although small, is the pride of David, the “winegrower” as he prefers to call himself. David will be happy to show you each row of grapes, tell you about accommodating the clones to the Romanian soil and then take you to the place where the magic happens. Here, in steel tanks ranging from 1000 to 2000 liters, he works long hours, carefully watching the processes of turning the grape juice into wine. You can feel his passion in every word he says about measuring, analyzing and tasting. In the cellar, next to steel vats you can also see some oak barrels, which he prefers to use with moderation, much like you use spices in food.
Thesaurus- The Wines
Located in the Silagiu area, it falls under the Banat D.O.C. which is known for both crisp whites and elegant reds. The vineyard is small, of only 5 hectares. Right now it hosts international varieties like Sauvignon Blanc, Italian Riesling, Muscat Ottonel for the whites. The reds include Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. The winemaker has the ambition to bring some native grapes too in the portfolio. I had the pleasure of tasting some of their best wines, including some which are not on the market yet but will most likely become a hit.
They have three collections in their portfolio. Amadoc, named after an ancient Thracian king who loved wine is the most popular range. Amurg (Romanian for sunset) is reserved for more special editions and Reserva which is the high-end line, currently consisting including red blends.
Thesaurus AMADOC SAUVIGNON BLANC 2017
The Stellenbosch heritage of the winemaker is transparent in this fresh, greenish gold Sauvignon Blanc which has a mouth-watering acidity and comes with some upfront fruit. The aromas are mostly citrus and grapefruit. Other fragrances include some subtle gooseberry and stone fruit, mostly peach. The higher alcohol content for a white (13.5% ABV) is well integrated making it seem round and full in the mouth. It’s best to be consumed right now. A lovely, simple expression of this variety.
Thesaurus SINGLE VINEYARD SAUVIGNON BLANC 2017
This wine is a special edition of Sauvignon Blanc created only in those years when the vineyard chooses to express its character most prominently. The green-gold number promises to offer the distinctive “tomcat” flavors in the nose followed by green pepper. Once these wear off, they are replaced by an explosion of tropical fruit like papaya, mango, and most notably pineapple. Nicely balanced and beautifully textured although the 14% ABV could sound intimidating at first. It lives up to the promise of replicating a hot climate, New Zealand style.
Thesaurus AMADOC ITALIAN RIESLING 2017
This is the undisputed star regarding sales on the club segment. The off-dry greenish number is a deliciously refreshing example of the aromatic variety. The lower alcohol content (12%) allows the free expression of the fruity character. The nose and the mouth taste are on the same page, including green apples and stone fruits (pear, peach). The crisp acidity manages to balance the higher sugar content. It’s an excellent middle way to share even with non-connaisseurs.
Thesaurus AMURG ITALIAN RIESLING 2014
The quality of this bone-dry white wine is first highlighted by its age, still drinkable in the fourth year. It comes forward with a distinctive “petrol/kerosene” nose. It is still alive, crisp and with a pronounced fruity character. Pears and peaches dominate the taste. The lower alcohol content (11.5%) makes it easily drinkable. The aftertaste is short. Some will say it is a fault; others consider it as an invitation to have another glass.
Thesaurus MUSCAT OTTONEL 2017
The golden color and lychee-jasmine perfume announce the mid-sweet character of this gentle wine. This comes from the high sugar content of the grapes which surpass 240g when picked, with no botyris involved. The honey smell recommends this wine as a possible dessert choice. Not complex, but pleasant.
Thesaurus ROSE FLEURS DE VIE 2017
This candy pink rose is a blend of Pinot Noir and Shiraz. Expect a bunch of English roses in a glass. The nose is intense, full of fresh red fruits (strawberry, raspberry) and a hint of spices (white pepper). The taste follows the promise and delivers a refreshing citric taste announced by the nose. Although it is dry, the perfume makes it feel a bit off-dry. Simple, yet elegant, drinkable rose.
Thesaurus PINOT NOIR 2016
This pale ruby wine promises to be the most French Pinot Noir from Romania. Created to replicate the Burgundy red and spending one year in French oak it is a good expression of a style which is difficult through its finesse. The dark fruits are ripe, you can feel some notes of red fruits too, but hard to distinguish. Some spicy clove notes and a hint of licorice in the nose give a bit of character to this otherwise beautifully medium wine. The roundness and velvety feeling in the mouth are oh la la!
Thesaurus CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2015
The medium intensity ruby does not do justice to this elegant Cabernet Sauvignon. The first impression announces black fruits in combination with something mineral, and herbaceous (wet forest floor). Matured in partially new wood for 19 months it has developed some vanilla notes completed by jammed fruits, much like a Christmas cake. The slightly harsh tannins are a sign that we still need to be patient with this one.
Thesaurus CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2016
A feisty red, this Cabernet Sauvignon is still too young to be fully appreciated. The aromas still need to blend in since you can feel the distinct oak, blueberries and vanilla flavors. Slightly stringy fruit with some green flavor and texture on the finish and too ripe tannins. The tobacco box notes promise to develop into something interesting. Definitely to be revisited.
Thesaurus RESERVA 2015
The dark, deep red makes its entrance on a violet valse. The marriage between Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz had a prolonged 1-year vacation in oak. These softened the tannins and made way for the black fruits to express themselves. As a signature of the winemaker, you can’t feel the high alcohol although it is there to give it power. Can be stored for another five years at least.
Thesaurus RESERVA 2016
The deep ruby blend created from a balanced mix of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot introduces itself by cooked dark fruits. The oak has done its job in “educating” these three reds in working together to create a unitary expression. You can’t feel the oak, just a savory note which screams for juicy red meat. Elegant, not too extractive and still young, has the potential to develop into a signature wine.
You don’t have to be a wine geek to enjoy a trip to Thesaurus. If you are, you won’t be disappointed. Although still young, just like the vine and the owners, this business promises to be a great addition to the Romanian wine tourism map. The future plans include to give the place a hip and cool vibe and are happy to host outdoor events, including music, dance, and networking. Why not replace the conference room with a tasting room for your next corporate event?
Behind the keyboard...
Silvia Palasca- web dev by day, wine storyteller by night (or the other way around)
Hello, I'm Silvia, wine and travel enthusiast. Looking to turn my passions into a lifestyle. As I writer and web designer I thrive on great sips and epic scenery. WSET Level 2 graduate, I love writing, talking and analyzing wine. If you have a project in mind, let's talk!