Birthplace of the Romanian variety, Grasa of Cotnari
Cotnari Vineyard is located in the historical region of Moldova, in the North-East part of Romania, and also located within the European Northern limit for grapevine growing. Located at 45-50° North latitude, Cotnari DOC has a select company formed by vineyards like Tokay (Hungary), Rheingau (Germany) and Champagne (France).
The story begins in the Neolithic period, during the Cucuteni Culture (5.500-2.700 BC), when in the are of Cotnari grape seeds and pottery with traces of wine have been found. Obviously, the art of vine cultivation and making wine was continued during the Geto-Dacian, but fame was achieved much later.
The name of the Cotnari village was officially dated for the first time on October 5, 1448, and soon after this region gained consecration during the glorious reign of Stephen the Great (Ştefan cel Mare) (1457-1504). From this time dates the famous Cotnari assortment, known also as the “wine of the voivode”. A blend which was obtained only from Romanian grape varieties like Frâncuşă (20%), Fetească Albă (30%), Grasă de Cotnari (30%) and Busuioacă of Moldova (10%) (now known as Tămâioasă Românească). A “recipe” for nearly 600 years, which can be tasted even in our days, as all grape varieties are still grown.
The quality of the Cotnari wine was confirmed in the 15th century when in a wine catalog from Venice, Grasa de Cotnari was listed as the most expensive wine.
Certainly, the wines produced in the Cotnari DOC had for centuries their moments of glory. For example, after a visit of Peter the Great in Iaşi in 1711, the Russian Czar exclaimed enthusiastically that he has never known a better wine like Cotnari. Shortly after, the prince and scholar Dimitrie Cantemir mentioned in 1716, that Cotnari is the best wine from the entire region of Moldova.
In a document written in Paris, in 1875 the wine produced in Cotnari was considered equal to the Tokay wines and superior to the wines produced in Germany, in the Rhine region.
In 1889 and 1890, the wines produced in the Cotnari DOC confirmed for the first time in the international wine élite. Thus, the wines obtained at the International Exhibition in Paris, the Grand Prix title.
A full history, which is in continuous evolution, whose progress would not have been so spectacular if the Cotnari DOC area would not have provided best climate and soil conditions for the grapevines. In short, the Cotnari terroir has the following features:
- soils formed from mold, marl, sand, clay and sandstone portions;
- high altitude ranging between 231 and 395 meters;
- temperate-continental climate with cold drafts influence from the east;
- good level of rainfall;
- southern exposure of the vines disposed on plateaus, hillsides, terraces and valleys.
After the communist era and the uncertain period of the 1990’s, the wines from Cotnari DOC regained the trust and respect of the educated Romanian consumer of wine. An enterprise started in 2007, by the company Casa de Vinuri Cotnari was a great turning point for the Romanian wine industry, focusing on the exclusive exploitation of the Romania varieties. Grapes such as Grasă de Cotnari, Tămâioasă Românească, Fetească Albă, Busuioacă de Bohotin and Fetească Neagră, which restore the Cotnari DOC’s legend and from which are produced wines linked to the present.