Wines from the heart of Transylvania
Târnave DOC area is located inside the Carpathian Mountains, in the heart of Transylvania region, more precisely located within the basin formed between Târnava Mică and Târnava Mare rivers. From an administrative and territorial point of view, the region is located within Alba, Sibiu, and Mureş counties.
The vineyard has been mentioned since ancient times, being famous for its white wines, characterized by fruitiness, freshness, and high acidity. Also, according to wine literature, Târnave DOC is the birthplace of two of the most popular, appreciated, and expressive Romanian white varieties: Fetească Albă and Fetească Regală.
From a historical point of view, the first mention of Târnave DOC region dates back to 1532, when it was mentioned in a map from “Chorographia Transylvaniae” written by the famous Saxon chronicler and scholar, Johannes Honterus (1498–1549). Also, in the writing “La Vie privée à Venise, depuis de origine jusqu’à la chute de la République” written by P. Molmenti, the wines from the center of Transylvania are mentioned since 1173. Wines which during that time had an excellent reputation at the Court of Venice, in the reign of Duke Sebastian Ziani. At the same time, the Milanese author, Pietro Casala, eulogiously described the “generous and mature” wines coming from the Carpathian Mountains. Also, information about winemaking practices and wine production around 1896 are mentioned in the works of Herczegh Mihály.
However, the wine history of this region would not have existed in the absence of a unique set of natural factors ideal for cultivating the grapevines and achieving memorable typical Târnave DOC wines.
- Southwestern slopes that offer natural protection to the grapevines against the spring and autumn winds and hoarfrost;
- altitude varying between 250-600 meters;
- brown soil with alternative layers of clay, waterproof marl, sandstone, and sand;
- moderate temperate-continental climate with warm summers, harsh and humid winters, and long and gentle autumns;
- the Carpathian Mountains that naturally protect the region against the cold currents from East and North East;
- optimal level of rainfall, humidity, solar exposure, and heat.
In terms of terroir, the particularity of the region lies in the misty days from the end of the summer, September and October, a phenomenon that leads to slow grape ripening, along with the conservation of the aromas and the high level of acidity which is typical for the area of Târnave DOC. Also, during the ripening process, the day/ night temperature variation (22°C/72°F – 12°C/54°F) contributes significantly to the quality of the grapes. A level of acidity which favors the production of sparkling wines and brandies.
The white wines produced in Târnave DOC are characterized as fresh due to their high acidity, smooth texture, minerality, along with floral, fruity, and slightly spicy aromas. While the red wines can be described by delicate body, roundness, feminine texture, and clean-cut aromas of forest red fruits.
One of the representative producers from Târnave Vineyard is Villa Vinèa. The story of the winery begins in 2001, when businessman and wine enthusiast Heiner Oberrauch discover in Mica (Mureş County) a picturesque place with great potential for wine production. In 2006 the first grapevines were planted, and in 2012 the winery was inaugurated. One of the main advantages of the winery is having Celestino Lucin, considered the best winemaker in Italy in 2009, a member in the Villa Vinèa team. The winery produces wines made from local varieties such as Fetească Regală, Fetească Albă, and Fetească Neagră, but also from international varieties like Rhine Riesling, Muscat Ottonel, Gewürztraminer, Merlot, and Pinot Noir. However, the particularity of the winery stands in making wines from grape varieties with German and Austrian origin, like Kerner and Zweigelt, highly appreciated by the Oberrauch family and cultivated with notable results in Târnave Vineyard. Based on the terroir and potential of the region, Villa Vinèa will soon launch a range of sparkling wines.
Confirming the unique reputation of Transylvania as a place full of history, legends, mystery and picturesque surroundings, Târnave DOC region impresses with a new wine revival, marked by the unique labels of Villa Vinèa winery.
Grape varieties which can be used to produce wines with “Târnave” Controlled Designation of Origin.
White Grape Varieties:
Red Grape Varieties:
Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Fetească Neagră, Syrah, Merlot.
Perhaps when you think about Romania, it is possible that the Miniş-Măderat Vineyard is not the first thing to come to mind. However, the wine area located in Arad, in the Western part of the country, deserves to be discovered, as well as the exceptional wines produced here. The vineyard is also where the Balla Géza Winery is located, where the owner and its winemaker, Balla Géza, revived the traditional varieties Mustoasă of Măderat and Cadarcă, giving them gentility and refinement.
Situated in a hillside area, in the Western part of the Zarand Mountains, the Miniş DOC area has all the terroir elements for growing white and red grape varieties, both local and international. Here, the climate is temperate-continental with Adriatic and Mediterranean influences, with long warm and dry autumns, which ensures a good ripening of the grapes.
Also, the soils are skeletal and rich in iron and micronutrients. The vines planted here have a predominantly Southern exposure, and in some places, they have Southwest and Southeast exposure. Thus, nature is proving to be, once again, generous with the vine, rewarding its consumers with extractive and aromatic wines with good ageing potential. Especially for red wines.
Naturally, a terroir with such potential could not be left unexploited over the centuries. The first known written historical evidence dates back from the early 11th century, when the first Queen of Hungary, Gizella, along with King Stephen donated “eight vines” to the Abbey of Bakanybel.
Subsequently, in the 12th and 13th centuries, viticulture and wine production are mentioned in the Catholic monasteries from Mocrea, Pâncota and Arad. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the production and trade of wine became the main source of income for local residents.
The year of 1744 was a moment of glory among the producers of Miniş-Măderat. Then was created a sweet red wine made from dried grapes of Cadarcă after the “Aszu” method, which was created by the Tokaji producers. To everyone’s surprise, the Romanian wine caused an overnight sensation, and soon became a favorite of the Habsburg Imperial Court.
Returning to the present, in the village of Păuliş, the founding of the Balla Géza Winery, in 1999, led to a fresh start in the Miniş-Măderat area. The project of the owner, winemaker, and professor Balla Géza reinstated the region on the wine map of Romania. An extraordinary merit, which gave the wine lovers the chance to finally associate the story of the place with the taste of the wines. Moreover, the ambition of the owner was to build a guesthouse around the winery, where wine, history, and travel enthusiasts could match the wines with local cuisine.
With an area of 105 hectares, the winery cultivates both local varieties and international ones, destined to produce a series of wines (white, rosé, red, frizzante and sparkling). Wines are included in several ranges and are designated to all wine consumers, regardless of taste, price or expectations. However, the common element that lies behind all of them is the typicity of the area, the aromatic and flavor spectrum, the balance and the long aftertaste.
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.