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Zghihară de Huși

This old Romanian variety produces crisp, easy-drinking whites.

MAIN SYNONYMS: Ghihară, Poama Zosănească, Sghigardă Galbenă, Zghihară, Zghihară Galbena, Zghihară Verde Batută

ORIGINS AND PARENTAGE
As suggested by its name, Zghihară de Huși probably comes from the region of Huși in Romania’s Eastern region of Moldova, where it was known long before phylloxera hit the country at the end of the 19th century and where it still shows a high level of morphological diversity (Galet 2000). It has often been considered to be a selection of GALBENĂ DE ODOBEȘTI (Dejeu 2004) but this hypothesis has not yet been tested by DNA profiling.

VITICULTURAL CHARACTERISTICS
Vigorous, early to mid budding, mid to late ripening. Medium-sized, thin-skinned berries. Susceptible to downy mildew and botrytis bunch rot. Resistant to downy mildew and drought and some resistance to cold winter temperatures.

WHERE IT GROWS AND WHAT THE WINE TASTES LIKE
Zghihara de Husi wines are very fresh, relatively neutral, with light notes of apple or pear, sometimes lightly acacia-scented and designed for early drinking, although they can be quite strong. Senator and Domeniile Avereşti are two of the very few producers of varietal wines. There were 95 ha (235 acres) in 2008, all in the Huși region in Romania’s far east, close to the border with the Republic of Moldova, but some were for home winemaking. It is also used to make brandy.

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.

Galbenă de Odobești

A gradually declining Romanian variety, which produces everyday whites.

MAIN SYNONYMS: Bucium de Poamă Galbenă, Galbenă de Căpătanu, Galbenă Grasă, Galbenă Uriaşă, Poamă Galbenă.

VARIETIES COMMONLY MISTAKEN FOR GALBENĂ DE ODOBEȘTI: Narancsszolo (Hungary), ORANGETRAUBE (Germany)

ORIGINS AND PARENTAGE
An old variety, Galbenă de Odobești probably originated in Căpătanu, near Odobești, eastern Romania. At least three berry-colour variations have been described, suggesting that the variety is very old: Galbenă Măruntă (pale yellow), Galbenă Verde (yellow-green) and Galbenă Aurie (golden-yellow). Galbenă de Odobești is said to be morphologically similar to other obscure or almost extinct local varieties: Alb Romanesc, Berbecel, Cruciuliță, Batută Neagră, Cabasma Neagră, Cabasma Albă and ZGHIHARĂ DE HUȘI (Dejeu 2004).

VITICULTURAL CHARACTERISTICS
Mid- to late budding and late ripening. Compact bunches of thin-skinned berries. Very susceptible to botrytis bunch rot, downy and powdery mildews and drought. Winter-hardy to around -18 °C (-0.4 °F).

WHERE IT GROWS AND WHAT THE WINE TASTES LIKE
During the Soviet era, Galbenă de Odobești was valued in Romania for its productivity rather than its quality and today it is still used mainly for bulk and/or blended wine, although Vincon Vrancea bottle a varietal version. Wines are light, highly acid and designed for early drinking. Total plantings in 2008 were 407 ha (1,006 acres), almost all in the southern half of Romania’s Moldova eastern region, down from 500 ha (1,236 acres) in 1995.

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, 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.

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.

Băbească Neagră

A Romanian variety of high acidity, producing fairy light reds.

PRINCIPAL SYNONYMS: Asil Kara (Daghestan), Băbească, Căldărușă, Chernyi Redkii (Ukraine), Crăcană, Crăcănată, Poamă Rară Neagră (Republic of Moldova), Rărăneagră or Rară Neagră (Republic of Moldova), Răschirată, Rastriopa (Republic of Moldova), Serecsia Ciornaia (Republic of Moldova), Sereksia (Ukraine), Sereksiya (US)

ORIGINS AND PARENTAGE
This is a very old Romanian variety, Băbească Neagră literally meaning ‘grandmother’s black.’ It most likely originated in the Nicorești vineyards in the county of Galați in the Romanian region of Moldova, bordering on Ukraine, where it was allegedly mentioned in documents as early as the 14th century and where it still shows significant intravarietal diversity (an indication of its age), including colour mutations with white (Băbească Albă) and green-grey or pink berries (Băbească Gri) (Dejeu 2004).

VITICULTURAL CHARACTERISTICS
Vigorous, mid budding, late ripening. Prone to millerandage, especially if yields are high. Medium-sized to large loose bunches of thin-skinned berries. Susceptible to botrytis bunch rot, powdery and downy mildews and drought but resistant to winter frosts (to -18 °C/-o.4 °F).

WHERE IT GROWS AND WHAT THE WINES TASTE LIKE
Wines are typically high in acidity, not very deeply coloured, with red-fruit flavours, mostly sour cherry. In Romania, it was grown on 4,516 ha (11,159 acres) in 2008, meaning it was quite widely planted but with the majority in Galați in the east. Most wines are ordinary and consumed locally but some higher-quality wines come from Nicorești and Odobești, the former giving its name to an appellation for this variety. Senator are unusual in producing a more serious varietal wine from the sandy terraces north of the Danube in the far south of the country. Senator have just a few hectares of the pink-berried Grey Băbească in Huși in the far east of Romania and make a clean, very fresh white wine with mineral rather than fruit flavours and a note of lime on the finish.

The Republic of Moldova had 80 ha (198 acres) of Rară Neagră in 2009. Recommended producers include Dionysos Mereni. According to Galet (2000), also planted in Ukraine.