Şarbă

White semi-aromatic variety with a recent history in Romanian viticulture, from which are made fresh and fruity wines.

 ORIGINS AND PARENTAGE

Şarbă is an authentic Romanian variety, obtained in 1972, by the researcher Gheorghe Popescu, by crossing Tămâioasa Românească and Italian Riesling grape varieties. Its name was also registered in 1972, and its name comes from the Şarbă Hill, the highest altitude point in the area, with an exceptional terroir for grapevine cultivation. Also, Şarbă, alongside Plăvaie and Galbenă de Odobeşti, is one of the most representative varieties for Vrancea region, the largest vineyard in Romania.

 VITICULTURAL CHARACTERISTICS

It is a plant with a medium vigor, with medium-sized grapes, clustered in compact bunches and thin skins. The maturing period for grapes is in the second half of September. It is resistant to frost, but sensitive to drought and gray rot, especially in rainy autumns.

WHERE IT GROWS AND WHAT THE WINES TASTE LIKE

Şarbă is cultivated with very good results in the vineyards of Southern Moldova, such as Odobeşti, Coteşti, Dealurile Bujorului and on small and isolated areas such as Dealurile Munteniei şi Olteniei.

Generally, from Şarbă are made dry white with acidity with typical aromas of rose petals, basil, lime flowers, acacia flowers and honey, which are recommended to be consumed young. Served at a temperature of 6-8°C (43-46°F) and can be perfectly matched with young cheeses, bream in salt crust, seafood or with the food you like. Also, is a grape variety with large accumulations of sugar, it can also be vinified as medium dry, medium sweet or sweet wines.

Gîrboiu Winery is one of the main producers of Şarbă in Romania, making spectacular white wines using only this grape variety, or combining it with Plăvaie.  

Plăvaie

Originally from the Vrancea region, from Plăvaie are made young, mineral wines with high acidity, which are recommended to be consumed in the first two years after bottling.

PRINCIPAL SYNONYMS

Plăvană, Brumăria, Bălană, Bălaia, Bălaie, Poamă Plăvaie, Plăvaie de Vrancea.

ORIGINS AND PARENTAGE

Plăvaie is a prefiloxeric white native variety, whose origin can be identified in the XVIIIth century in the Vrancea region. The story of the variety’s name is picturesque, referring to the color of the grapes that was very similar to the white-yellowish or gray-white of the sheep, animals that had an essential role in the agriculture and economy of Vrancea at that time.

 VITICULTURAL CHARACTERISTICS

The plant is very vigorous compared to other native varieties. It is resistant to diseases, low temperatures (till -15°C/ 5°F) and drought. Plăvaie has an increased yield, with compact clusters, with grapes that can be harvested starting with the second half of September.

WHERE IT GROWS AND WHAT THE WINES TASTE LIKE

Plăvaie is widespread in the Moldova region, especially in Vrancea County in the Odobeşti, Coteşti and Panciu vineyards, being as popular as Şarbă or Galbenă de Odobeşti. The variety is also spread in the Republic of Moldova, where it is known as Brumăria, but also in countries like Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Slovakia, Serbia, Montenegro, Hungary, Austria and Bulgaria.

The wines made from this grape variety are dry, fresh and recommended to be consumed in the first two years after bottling and characterized by green apples, grapefruit, lime juice and lemon peel aromas. Also, due to the increased acidity, the variety can be used to create memorable sparkling wines or brandies.

The Wines that are recommended to be consumed at 6-8°C (43-46°F) and consumed either plainly or with young Romanian cheeses, fish brine, grilled chicken breast with vegetables or along with the food you like.

Tămâioasă Românească

Tămâioasă Românească is one of the most popular local aromatic variety from which are made both sweet wines with very good ageing potential as well as young and fresh wines with exotic fruits aromas.

 

MAIN SYNONYMS:

Busuioacă Albă, Busuioacă de Moldova, Beala Tamianka, Belai Muscatnai, Muscat Belai, Muscat Blanc à Petit Grains, Muskateller, Sarga Muskotally Barzsing, Tămâioasă, Tămâioasă Albă de Drăgăşani.

 

VARIETIES COMMONLY MISTAKEN FOR GRASĂ DE COTNARI: MUSCAT OTTONEL.

 

ORIGINS AND PARENTAGE

Tămâioasă Românească is a grape variety with a tradition of over 2,000 years in Romania. Although its origins are uncertain, it is known that the grape comes from the South of Greece, from the Muscat family and it is one of the oldest varieties in the world. During the Antiquity, Muscat wines were the most appreciated from all countries located in the Mediterranean basin. Moreover, both wine – which at that time were transported in amphorae – and vine cuttings were considered currency in commercial practices.

At the same time, the excellent quality of the grape and also the expansion of the Roman Empire in Eastern Europe, led to the popularization of Muscat and its naturalization in the countries where it was acclimated, being subsequently marketed with the name of the origin locality. In this regard, the most known example is of France with Muscat de Frontignan, Muscat de Lunel Blanc or Muscat Blanc à Petit Grains. And also, the examples of Spain (Moscatel Castellano), Portugal (Moscatel do Douro), Italy (Moscato Bianco), or Germany (Muskateller Gelber, Muskateller Grüner).

In Romania, the grape variety was introduced by the Greek settlers and their commerce within the Danube and Black Sea city ports, which developed exponentially during the reign of Burebista, the first king of the Dacians (82-44 BC). Also, from this period dates the “baptism” of the grape that comes from the Latin word thymanea, which translates as “incense”, due to its aromatic character.

Originally, the grape was planted for the first time with very good results in the Drăgăşani wine region. And being a part of the traditional Drăgăşani white assemblage along with grape varieties with Dacian origins such as Crâmpoşie, Braghină and Gordan. Subsequently, Tămâioasa Românească “migrated” to Dealu Mare vineyard, where it was blended with grapes such as Gordin and Băşicata. And also in Cotnari vineyard, where became a part of the region’s famous assemblage alongside Frâncuşă, Fetească Albă and Grasă de Cotnari.

As an aromatic variety coming from the Muscat family, Tămâioasa Românească is very often confused with Muscat Ottonel. A confusion, taking into consideration that Muscat Ottonel was made in 1852 by Robert Moreau, through the cross between Chasselas and Muscat de Saumur.

Its very old history within the Romanian terroir, along with the survival against the invasion of the phylloxera (about 1860), gives it the right to be considered an indigenous variety.

 

VITICULTURAL CHARACTERISTICS

It is a relatively vigorous plant, with late-harvesting grapes with great amount of sugar accumulation. The plant is sensitive to frost (-18°C/ -.04°F), drought, excessive moisture and disease. It has a low productivity (5-8 t/ha) and is spread in almost all vineyards in Romania.

 

WHERE IT GROWS AND WHAT ITS WINES TASTE LIKE

Tămâioasă Românească is cultivated on an area of approximately 1,000 hectares, especially in the Drăgăşani, Mehedinţi, Ştefăneşti-Argeş, Dealu Mare, Pietroasele, Murfatlar and Cotnari vineyards. Due to the high accumulation of sugar, from this grape variety are made dessert aromatic wines with very good ageing potential with unmistakable flavors of honeycomb, lime, acacia flower, white roses, basil and incense. Lately, to general surprise, Tămâioasa Românească was also made as a dry wine, impressing with its delicate body, freshness and typical aromas. Among the producers which cultivate it with exceptional results, can be mentioned  Oprişor Winery, Aurelia Vişinescu Wines, Budureasca or Casa de Vinuri Cotnari.

Negru de Drăgășani

This recent Romanian cross has the potential to produce soft, fruity reds.

ORIGINS AND PARENTAGE
Negru de Drăgășani, meaning ‘black from Drăgășani’, was originally called Negru Vîrtos x SAPERAVI, a cross obtained in 1993 by Mircea Mărculescu and Mircea Vlădăsel at the SCPVV research centre in Drăgășani, Southwest Romania, in which Negru Vîrtos (‘Vigorous black’) is an old, no longer cultivated Romanian variety. This would make Negru de Drăgășani a sibling of NOVAC. However, Saperavi’s DNA profile is not consistent with this parentage. In a recent genetic study (Bodea et al. 2009), Negru de Drăgășani appeared as closely related to Negru Vîrtos, Novac and Bătută Neagră, an old, no longer cultivated Romanian variety that could be Negru de Drăgășani’s other parent, but recent results from the Dragasani viticulture research centre suggest instead that the other parent could be BABEASCĂ NEAGRĂ (Ciprian Neascu, personal communication).

VITICULTURAL CHARACTERISTICS
Vigorous, productive, mid-ripening. Loose bunches of thick-skinned berries. Not particularly susceptible to fungal diseases.

WHERE IT’S GROWN AND WHAT ITS WINE TASTES LIKE
The area planted to this variety is still very small (6 ha/15 acres in Romania in 2008) but it appears to be easier to grow and to have more potential than NOVAC. Wines are characterized by sweet, dark berry flavors, spices, and soft tannins. Recommended producers include  Vinarte or Viile Metamorfosis.

Fetească Regală

The most planted Fetească, the source of fresh, aromatic whites in Romania.

MAIN SYNONYMS: Dănășană or Dăneșană (Transylvania in Romania), Dunesdorfer Konigsast (Transylvania), Galbenă de Ardeal (Romania), Konigliche Madchentraube (Hungary), Pesecka Leanka (Slovakia).

VARIETIES COMMONLY MISTAKEN FOR FETEASCĂ REGALĂ: KIRALYLEANYKA (Hungary)

ORIGINS AND PARENTAGE
Fetească Regală, literally ‘royal young girl’, was first observed in the 1920s in the village of Daneș near Sighișoara, Transylvania, Romania, hence its synonym Dănășană. It was initially cultivated by a nurseryman called Gaspari from the town of Mediaș, who distributed it under the German name Dunesdorfer Konigsast (Dejeu 2004), literally ‘king’s branch from Duneș village’. The wine obtained from this variety was then presented by Gaspari at the National Wine and Fruit Exhibition in Bucharest in 1928 under the name of Fetească Regală, which was then adopted (Galet 2000). Two morphological types have been distinguished: one with long clusters and yellowish, thin-skinned berries, the other with winged clusters and yellow-green, thick-skinned berries (Dejeu 2004).

Common wisdom is that Fetească Regală is a natural cross between FETEASCĂ ALBĂ  and GRASĂ DE COTNARI (aka Koverszolo) obtained in the 1930s (Galet 2000; Târdea and Rotaru 2003) but, although recent studies have suggested that Fetească Regală and Fetească Albă are morphologically and genetically close (Bodea et al. 2009), the comparison of their DNA profiles (Ghețea et al. 2010; Galbacs et al. 2009) tends to contradict any strict parent—offspring relationship between Fetească Regală and either of its alleged parents (Vouillamoz).

VITICULTURAL CHARACTERISTICS
Vigorous, mid- to late ripening. Compact bunches of thin-skinned berries. Susceptible to botrytis bunch rot and drought but resistant to cold winter temperatures (to -20 °C/—4 °F) and hot summers. Clone 21 Bl has higher yields and a higher sugar content in the berries.

WHERE IT GROWS AND WHAT THE WINE TASTES LIKE
Fetească Regală, the most widely planted variety in Romania (16,363 ha/ 4O,434 acres in 2008) tends to produce aromatic wines that are dry and fresh, occasionally floral, sometimes with more exotic fruit flavors — both still and sparkling, but also used for distillation into brandy. Thanks to the tannins in the skins, it takes better to oak than does FETEASCĂ ALBĂ. Recommended producers include Liliac, Balla Géza Winery, Petro Vaselo, Budureasca or Crama Gîrboiu.

In the Republic of Moldova, there has been usually no distinction between the less common Fetească Regală and the more widely planted FETEASCĂ ALBĂ. The former is not even listed in the official statistics and is almost always blended with Fetească Albă, the final wine simply labeled Fetească.

There has been some confusion in Slovakia because Feteasca Regală (391 ha/966 acres in 2009) and Pesecka Leanka (516 ha/1,275 acres, named after the region of Pesek, where it is traditionally grown) are deemed to be separate varieties although growers now begin to recognize them as one and the same (no DNA evidence yet). Producers of varietal wines include Stiglic, Josef Yhnak and Josef Zalaba. Hacaj also makes a sparkling version.

Ukraine’s official vineyard statistics recorded around 1,600 ha (3,954 acres) in 2009, but they do not distinguish between the various varieties of Fetească.

Fetească Neagră

The red-wine Fetească is a resurgent Moldovan variety, producing good-quality wine mainly in Romania.

MAIN SYNONYMS:

Coada Rândunicii (Romania, Republic of Moldova), Fetyaska Chernaya (Ukraine), Păsărească Neagră (Republic of Moldova), Poama Fetei Negre (Republic of Moldova), Schwarze Madchentraube (Romania).

ORIGINS AND PARENTAGE 

Fetească Neagră, literally ‘black young girl’, is an old variety thought to have originated in the historical region of Moldova (including today’s Republic of Moldova and Romania’s eastern Moldova region), where it has been traditionally cultivated. Ot then spread  west to Transylvania and Hungary. Contrary to Roy-Chevrier’s (1903a) hypothesis, Fetească Neagră is not a colour mutation of FETEASCĂ ALBĂ, as evidenced by DNA profiling (Ghețea et al. 2010). Fetească Neagră shows significant biodiversity, with at least four distinct types (Dejeu 2004), suggesting it is relatively old.

OTHER HYPOTHESES

Like FETEASCĂ ALBĂ, Fetească Neagră has often been said to have been domesticated from local wild grapevines by the Dacians but there is no evidence so far.

VITICULTURAL CHARACTERISTICS

Very vigorous, mid budding and mid to late ripening. Compact bunches of thick-skinned berries. Resistant to drought, cold winter temperatures (to -22 °C/-8 °F) and botrytis bunch rot but susceptible to powdery mildew.

 

WHERE IT GROWS AND WHAT THE WINES TASTE LIKE

Fetească Neagră is indigenous to what is now the Republic of Moldova. However, it was not planted during the Soviet era and it more or less disappeared. Nevertheless, producers such as Cricova, Equinox, Et Cetera, Purcari and Chateau Vartely began replanting the variety in the late 2000s.

Fetească Neagră produces some of the Romania’s best reds from the 1,088 ha (2,689 acres) planted mostly in the eastern Moldova region in and in Muntenia in the south. They are typically dry and full-bodied with intense, complex spicy aromas, both red and black fruit, especially ripe plums, and tannins that become velvety as they age. The variety has some similarity to BLAUFRANKISCH and can easily be over-oaked. Some semi-sweet and sweet wines are also produced, particularly for the domestic market. Recommended producers include Alira, Aurelia Vişinescu Wines, Balla Géza Winery, Budureasca, Casa de Vinuri Cotnari, Corcova Roy & Dâmboviceanu, Crama Gîrboiu, Crama Oprişor, Davino, Liliac, Nachbil, Petro Vaselo, SERVE, Viile Metamorfosis, Vinarte, Viile Metamorfosis.

Ukraine’s official vineyard statistics record approximately 1,600 ha (3,954 acres) in 2009 but they do not distinguish between the various varieties of Fetească.

Fetească Albă

This variety is the second-most planted Fetească, even more important in Romania than its Moldova birthplace.

MAIN SYNONYMS: Dievcie Hrozno (Slovakia), Fetiasca Belii (Russia, Ukraine), Fetișoară (Republic of Moldova, Romania) Fetyaska Alba (Ukraine), Madchentraube (Hungary), Păsărească Albă (Republic of Moldova, Romania), Poamă Fetei Albă (Republic of Moldova), Văratic (Republic of Moldova).

ORIGINS AND PARENTAGE
Fetească Albă literally means “white young girl”. It is an old variety with probable origins in the historic region of Moldova (including today’s Republic of Moldova and Romania’s eastern region of Moldova), where it has been cultivated traditionally. It has then spread west to Transilvania and Hungary. Fetească Albă is genetically close to other varietes from Moldova such as GRASĂ DE COTNARI.
According to Dejeu (2004), Fetească Albă was obtained from (not clear if a clone or a descendant) FETEASCA NEAGRĂ in historic Moldova between the 3rd and 13th centuries A.D. Recent studies suggest that they are morphologically and genetically close (Bodea et al. 2009), but the comparison of the DNA profiles of Fetească Albă and Fetească Neagră in Ghețea et al. (2010) tends to disprove any parent-offspring relationship (Vouillamoz).
The Hungarian variety LEANYKA is thought to be identical to Fetească Albă (Galet 2000; Rohaly et al. 2003) but comparison of their DNA profiles (Galbacs et al. 2009; Ghetea et al. 2010) disproves this hypothesis (Vouillamoz).

OTHER HYPOTHESES
Like FETEASCĂ NEAGRĂ, Fetească Albă has often been said to have been directly domesticated by the Dacians from local wild grapevines but there is no evidence so far.

VITICULTURAL CHARACTERISTICS
Vigorous, early budding, mid ripening. Small, compact bunches of small, thin-skinned berries.
Susceptible to downy and powdery mildews, botrytis bunch rot and mites but resistant to cold winter temperatures (to -20 °C/-4 °F).

WHERE IT GROWS AND WHAT THE WINES TASTE LIKE
The Republic of Moldova’s 4,334 ha (10,710 acres) of Fetească Albă are in the centre and south of the country, producing wines with medium acidity, floral and citrus flavours, often used to make sparkling wines. Recommended producers include Chateau Vartely.

Fetească Albă is even more important in neighbouring Romania, where there were 10,529 ha (26,018 acres) in 2008, more than 10% of the total area under vineyards and second only to FETEASCA REGALA. It is spread throughout most of the wine regions but the greatest concentrations are in Transylvania in the centre of the country and in Romania’s Moldova to the east. Wines, both still and sparkling, are generally dry or medium dry but some excellent sweet, still versions, alone or blended with GRASĂ DE COTNARI and other local varieties, are produced in Cotnari in the far northeast. Styles of wine vary considerably but dry wines are typically more full-bodied than Feteasca Regala and combine citrus and light peach or apricot flavours. Vines planted in the south often produce wines lacking in acidity. Producers of varietal wines include SERVEAurelia Vişinescu Wines, DavinoCrama GîrboiuCasa de Vinuri Cotnari, Liliac, Budureasca, or Viile Metamorfosis.
The variety is said to be planted in Hungary but this may be due to the common but incorrect belief that Fetească Albă and LEANYKA are one and the same variety. Ukraine’s official vineyard statistics recorded approximately 1,600 ha (3,954 acres) in 2009 but they do not distinguish between the various varieties of Fetească.

Crâmpoșie Selecționată

This is a top-quality, high acidity Romanian variety which produces zesty, mineral-laden whites.

MAIN SYNONYMS: Crâmpoşie Selecționată.

ORIGINS AND PARENTAGE
Crâmpoșie Selecționată is a seedling of Crâmpoșie obtained by Emilian Popescu, Marin Neagu and Petre Banita in 1972, at the viticultural research centre in Drăgășani, southwest Romania, in a bid to solve the problem of uneven berry sizes, caused by the functionally female flowers in Crâmpoșie, an old variety thought to have originated in the Drăgășani region in Oltenia, southwest Romania, now supplanted by its more reliable progeny. The selection was obtained by open fertilization of Crâmpoșie, with the other parent unknown.

VITICULTURAL CHARACTERISTICS
Relatively vigorous, productive, late ripening. Big bunches of thick-skinned berries. Resistant to rain, heat and fungal diseases.

WHERE IT GROWS AND WHAT ITS WINES TASTE LIKE
Crâmpoșie Selecționată, or Crâmpoșie, mainly grows in the Drăgășani region and further east in Panciu and Constanța, on Romania’s Black Sea coast.  The best wines are refined, zesty, high in acidity and have a strong minerality, made even more refreshing by a light bitterness on the finish. It is sometimes blended with other varieties such as SAUVIGNONASSE to increase acidity. Recommended producers include Casa Isărescu or Prince Știrbey, the latter also experimenting with a sparkling version. In 2008, it was grown on 473 ha (1,169 acres) in Romania. It is also a popular table wine.