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

Novac

This recent Romanian cross is difficult to handle, but it can produce fresh, lively wines.

ORIGINS AND PARENTAGE
Novac is a recent Negru Vîrtos x SAPERAVI cross obtained in 1987 by Mircea Mărculescu at the SCPVV research center in Drăgășani, southwest Romania, in which Negru Vîrtos (‘vigorous black’) is an old Romanian variety no longer cultivated. Novac may be closely related to NEGRU DE DRĂGĂȘANI .

VITICULTURAL CHARACTERISTICS
Vigorous, productive, mid-ripening, generally difficult to grow because it is sensitive to rain and susceptible to fungal diseases, and has a short harvest window. Compact bunches of thin-skinned berries.

WHERE IT’S GROWN AND WHAT ITS WINE TASTES LIKE
Novac is not only difficult in the vineyard but also in the winery, where the dark-fruit aromas may be lost, which is probably why Prince Stirbey is currently the only producer of a varietal wine. Novac is usually blended with local or international varieties to give it more body, like in Nedeea assemblage made by Vinarte. On its own, it can be fresh, juicy and distinctly nervy thanks to its high acidity. Tannins are generally pretty soft unless bolstered by oak but it ages surprisingly well over a few years. There were 42 ha (104 acres) under Novac in 2008, in Oltenia in the southwest and in Romania’s Moldova in the northeast.

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.

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.