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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 AVINCIS, Oprişor Winery, Aurelia Vişinescu Wines, Budureasca or Casa de Vinuri Cotnari.

Budureasca

DOC Dealu Mare

Located in the Southern part of Romania, Dealu Mare spreads over the surface of Prahova and Buzău counties. It is the most compact vineyard heap in Romania composed of eight important DOC wine centers for Dealu Mare. Also, the region is located in the Southern Carpathian hills and stretches over an area of 65 km with a width ranging between 3 and 12 km. Lastly, Dealu Mare is positioned on the parallel 45°, in the select company of Bordeaux and Tuscany.

The white wines produced in the Dealu Mare DOC are distinguished by a high level of extract, a velvety structure and a medium acidity due to Southwestern exposure. In some areas, the soil has a concentrated content of calcium carbonate, which favors the cultivation of aromatic grape varieties like Tămâioasă Românească and Muscat Ottonel.

Instead, the red wines produced in Dealu Mare are pleasing any type of consumer. Here, the red wines are well-balanced, full-bodied, with a smooth texture, a long aftertaste and aromas like berries, spices, morocco, coffee, cocoa or chocolate. Due to their qualities, most of the red wines have great ageing potential. And this is due to the natural factors (terroir) favorable to growing red varieties:

  • red-brown soils rich in iron with a medium texture;
  • very good heliothermic resources;
  • temperate-continental climate with hot summers and mild dry autumns which ensure the ripening of red grapes.

The presence of the vines is dated since ancient times, as confirmed by excavations, pottery, and toponymy. The first documents date from the 14th and 15th centuries, in which Valea Călugărească and Ceptura are mentioned. In foreign documents of the era, the wine from Dealu Mare was described as “oily, strong and durable”.

SERVE is one of the first private wineries in Romania, founded in 1994, by the Corsican Count Guy Tyrel de Poix. The story begins when the Count was seduced by the magic words written by Hugh Johnson, in his book “The Story of Wine”, which mentioned Romania as a country with potential in viticulture and winemaking. That was enough for the Count to take our country as a challenge and a soon to become materialized project. Currently, SERVE grows on an area of 54 hectares local varieties such as Fetească Albă, Fetească Neagră, and also international like Italian Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Domeniile Săhăteni is known by their several collections of white, rosé and red wines. Brands like Artisan, Karakter, Promessa or Anima, which render elegant and aromatic wines, with a feminine note, highlighting the international and Romanian varieties.

Davino is a winery built in 2003, with an area of 68 hectares in Ceptura and impresses with white and red wines, which “contain” that aristocratic and initiatory element. In perfect harmony, they vinify both monovarietal and blended, three white varieties – Fetească Albă, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling Italian – and three red varieties – Fetească Neagră, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. If the wines are made of only one type of grape variety, they get to express so well its typicity that they became study material for future oenologists from the Agronomical Universities from Bucharest and Iaşi. Real school-wines…

One of the newest wineries, founded in Dealu Mare, is Viile Metamorfosis. The story of this winery started in the early 2000s, when Marquis Piero Antinori, impressed by the quality of the Romanian wines, decided to invest in this region. With more than 600 years of tradition and experience in the wine field, the Antinori Family decided to plant 100 hectares at Vadu Săpat. Their credit lies in “establishing” the Negru de Drăgăşani variety in this vineyard, and also in growing traditional Romanian grapes like Tămâioasă Românească, Fetească Albă and Fetească Neagră.

Budureasca is a winery founded in 2006 on a surface of 275 hectares and is one of the largest producers of Dealu Mare. The wine portfolio is highly diversified, with collections dedicated to all wine consumers at an excellent price-quality ratio. The technology is one of the most modern in the country, meeting at the same time tradition and the terroir of the area. The varieties are both local and international, among which Fetească Regală, Fetească Albă, Tămâioasă Românească, Busuioacă of Bohotin or Fetească Neagră.

Returning to the present, the Dealu Mare DOC is receiving a new “meaning” with the founding of new wineries that have relied on the terroir of this area, the Romanian traditional varieties and – sometimes – the making of signature wines.

Certainly, Dealu Mare Vineyard is worth to discover on a study trip, from winery to winery, to understand its story and history.

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, AVINCIS, 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.

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