With a simple, delicious freshness

We are talking again about an old Romanian variety, based on the information I found. With a yield of 13-14 tonnes of grapes per hectare, it doesn’t have a high sugar content, therefore it rarely produces wine with more than 12-12,5% abv, even with the new modern technology. The acidity and the freshness are  the backbone of the Francusa, while its aromas are mostly vegetal (grapevine, white flower), sometimes complemented by fruity notes (citrus), when made in clean and modern conditions. I had the opportunity to drink simple but very tasty wines made from this variety, and I hope that over the coming years the people at Cotnari (for now, only they are still making wine from this variety) manage to turn it into a marketable product, because Francusa can be “drank by the pint” but it also goes well with food.

source: Cezar Ioan – Connaisseur fara ifose


From the Dacians to the 70’s selection

The online wine literature mentions the pre-Roman origin of this variety grown in the Dragasani area. The variety seems to have improved in this same place in the 7th decade of the 20th century, allowing it to pollinate without having to be planted with another local variety, Gordana (unfortunately very rarely seen since). Hence the indication “selection” on most Cramposie bottles today. It produces wine with a high level of freshness, as well as a certain minerality, the most common aromas being pear, citrus, apple and yellow cherry. It doesn’t age dramatically in the bottle more than three or four years – at least I never had the chance to believe otherwise.

Source: Cezar Ioan – Connaisseur fara ifose

Busuioaca de Bohotin

Never ceases to amaze

Also part of the international Muscat family, Busuioaca consolidated its “de Bohotin” name to such extent that, although there is no evidence that it is an indigenous variety, people came to consider it one. It is appreciated and drank with such frequency that it “becomes Romanian”. The variety is found mostly in the Romanian Moldova and in Dealu Mare. Its good acidity and its intense rose, basil and wild strawberry aromas encouraged the oenologists for a long time to only offer the semi-sweet and sweet wines made of this variety. This has changed during the last decade, when more and more dry and semi-dry “busuioaca” wines (which I personally prefer) appeared. I am always delighted by the amazement of those who drink this variety for the first time.

Quelle: Cezar Ioan – Connaisseur fara ifose

Grasa de Cotnari

Great past, greater futur

White variety documented in the area since the age of Stefan the Great, this is a “transplant” from Hungary (from the Furmint family) that is currently enjoying its second youth and has chances to become a future bestseller: a very good structure, the region-specific acidity, the pleasant aromas reminiscent of white flowers, quince, and as it ages, honeycomb, are this wine’s strengths. The matter of how Romanian this wine is remains debatable – and debated – whether its origin is an “indigenous” variety or the “Furmint” from Tokaji, what is certain is the the Grasa is closely associated with the name Cotnari (although also cultivated in Pietroasele), where it produces wines with a personality distinct from the Hungarian Furmints, and the emotional connection between this variety and the people of Romania is an old and sturdy one. In the years when it is exposed to noble rot, it develops sensational aroma characteristics.

source: Cezar Ioan – Connaisseur fara ifose


Part of the national DNA

A long way from Romania the origins of this Muscat, but how fervently it is drank in our country! This – and its undeniable tradition in Moldova – made it one of the most popular domestic wines. Because its aromas (acacia flowers, rose, honeycomb) are best suited to a semi-sweet or sweet repast, the most popular Tamaioasa wines were in the entry level and high end categories – notable “tamaioasa” is hard to find in the mid-range price or quality. The new trend seem to be “combining” this variety with more neutral ones, obtaining refreshing wines that are not as flavoured and that can be drank every day with one’s meal.

source: Cezar Ioan – Connaisseur fara ifose

Zghihara de Huși / Galbena de Odobesti

The origin of this variety born before the phylloxera epidemic is made obvious by the name (although it is known under the two distinct names above). It is a variety which I bet could set a new trend. Cultivated and fermented with great responsibility in its native region, even when a large yield is pursued (15-20 tonnes/ha) it is distinguished from any other variety by its  mouthwatering – practically vibrant, even rough – acidity, and by its lightness “inviting” you to drink it. Until an ambitious oenologist proves otherwise, “zghihara” is excellent when young – by itself or paired with various light meals. Green apples and sorrel are some of the aromas of this otherwise neutral variety. It seems “more primitive”, but I know many (including myself) that irredeemably fell in love with its extraordinary joviality.

source: Cezar Ioan – Connaisseur fara ifose

Feteasca regală

The modern sovereign

For a variety believed no further than last year to be less than a century old (it was believed to have appeared only in the third decade of the previous century, in Transylvania, as a breed between Grasa de Cotnari and Feteasca alba – but the latest research shows that not the Grasa, but the Francusa was its genitor, some decades before  – I want to thank Tiberiu Onutu again for flagging this), Feteasca regala had a big success: it currently covers 16% of the total area under vine in our country. The reasons? The average yield of 15 tonnes/hectare, strong adaptability to various climates, good olfactory and taste characteristics. The acidity gives it freshness, the wild flower, apple and citrus aromas are highlighted by a full body, where tannins are more present that in other white varieties, ensuring an average shelf live in the bottle, when properly made. It is a multi-faceted variety – it can be drank fresh, but it is also suited for contact with oak – and I have recently heard several foreign experts saying that, processed and promoted with increased care, it could become an emblematic variety for Romania, generating high profit and a good image.

source: Cezar Ioan – Connaisseur fara ifose

Feteasca albă

Distinction through finesse

Another indigenous variety from Moldova (born, no doubt, before the phylloxera epidemic), which today can be found in all Romanian wine growing regions and in several neighbouring countries. Based on my sources, it is still uncertain whether is originates in a mutation of Feteasca neagra or the other way around – what is certain is that vineyards where this variety is grown are more widely spread in our country – around 10,000 de hectares (i.e. a little over 11% of the total, according to available official data). Wines made from Feteasca alba have a natural gentle freshness and are distinguished by their delicate aroma in the early days (white flowers, grapevine flowers, citrus), and even peach, hay or honey after aging three or four years.

source: Cezar Ioan – Connaisseur fara ifose

Negru de Drăgășani

The last, but not the least

The title “de Dragasani” leads many to believe that this is an ancient variety, but it was acknowledged as recently as 1993 as a breed between two other varieties, now rarely seen, Negru Vartos (vigorous black) and Saperavi (some sources however mention Novac or even Babeasca neagra, which is contradicted by the direct testimony of local experts). Even though it barely counts several dozen hectares across the country, its aromas (the more obvious being dark berries), its soft tannins and its expressive character, together with a beautiful evolution in the bottle, herald it as a variety with a great future in the Romanian oenology. Even if it is “de Dragășani” (from Dragasani), this dark wine feels at home in Dealu Mare, where it already fathered an emblematic wine that has yet to be surpassed. Certainly, a variety worth revisiting! I think it could overthrow Feteasca neagra as flagship, if it had a more widespread cultivation and if it were subject to more experiments.

source: Cezar Ioan – Connaisseur fara ifose


The offspring of Negrul vartos and Saperavi

The creator of this variety is, based on all the testimonies published so far that I have read, the researcher Mircea Marculescu, who has obtained it at the Dragasani Winegrowing Research Institute in 1987, from Negru vartos (vigorous black) and Saperavi. It delivers strong, very productive wines, with a dark ruby-red colour and aromas of blueberries, juniper, black pepper, cloves and dark chocolate. It seems to have an ageing capacity similar to more globally prevalent varieties, but unfortunately the Romanian vineyards are not large enough to encourage the necessary experiments to build a fame to match the intuited potential.

source: Cezar Ioan – Connaisseur fara ifose