Dealurile Munteniei (in En. “Muntenia’s Hills”) G.I. is a wine region located in the Southern part of Romania within Buzău, Prahova, Argeş, Dâmboviţa and Olt counties. The region belongs to the Subcarpaţii de Curbură area and the grapevine plantations are located on the slopes and depressions of the hills. Also, the region is famous for the remarkable red wines, and also has very good potential for planting aromatic white varieties such as Muscat Ottonel or Tămâioasă Românească.
The origin of viticulture in the area of Dealurile Munteniei is very old, proof being the archaeological finds, ceramic pieces, and toponymy. One of the first mentions dates from the 4th century, when the Visigoth King Athanaric buried his famous treasure known as the “Cloşca cu puii de aur” (in En: “The Hen with Golden Chicks”) or “Tezaurul de la Pietroasa” (in En.:“The Piertroasele Thesaurus”). Later in the archives, there are several mentions from the 15th century on the locations where viticulture and winemaking were practiced like Bucov, Valea Călugărească, Ceptura, Urlaţi, and Tohani.
A moment that has helped the development of Dealurile Munteniei G.I. was the proximity to cities like Bucharest, Ploieşti and Buzău, which attracted many personalities and noble family from the 17th century to invest in wineries and cellars. A well-known example is of Constantin Brâncoveanu (1688-1714), who built in Tohani, a wine cellar, a mansion and a church as a stopover point en route to Moldova.
Viticulture has been a long time the principal activity of the dwellers of Dealurile Munteniei GI, which is why in 1893 the Pietroasa Viticultural Farm was established, in order to recover the vineyard after the invasion of phylloxera. Later, in 1924, near the Farm, was founded the Pietroasa Viticultural and Oenological Resort, a premiere in Romania.
Dealurile Munteniei region is famous for its excellent natural conditions (terroir) in grape vines growing:
- a temperate-continental climate with hot summers, long and dry autumns and short winters;
- reddish-brown soils along with red clay, marl and limestone-rich portions in some areas, abundant in iron oxide and calcium carbonate;
- altitude ranging between 137 and 550 meters;
- the vineyard exposure is predominantly southern, south-eastern and south-western;
- optimal sun exposure and rainfall.
In Dealurile Munteniei G.I., the white wines have intense aromas, full body, good balance and good acidity. And the red wines can be described as extractive, aromatic with an intense ruby color.
In the past years, a lot of high-standard wineries like SERVE, Davino, Aurelia Vişinescu or Viile Metamorfosis were established. This actually created a true revival of signature wines. Among the grape varieties that contributed to the reputation of the region, we can mention Fetească Albă, Tămâioasă Românească, Chardonnay, Muscat Ottonel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon or Fetească Neagră.
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.
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.