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).
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.
The red-wine Fetească is a resurgent Moldovan variety, producing good-quality wine mainly in Romania.
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.
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.
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.