Drăgăşani DOC (Designation of Origin) area is one of the oldest and most notorious vineyard from Oltenia region. Located in South-West part of Romania, Drăgăşani Vineyard extends for a length of over 50 km and is situated near the Olt River, at the foot of the Getic Subcarpathians.
The legend of this region dates back to the reign of Burebista, the first known Dacian King (84 BC – 44 BC), and starts with a beautiful love story between his daughter, Bagrina, and the fearless Dacian warrior, Gordan. A story that was to achieve immortality through the “baptism” of two grape varieties named after our heroes – Braghină and Gordan. Obviously, the wine-making tradition that begun during the Dacians was destined to last for centuries.
The Drăgăşani Vineyard is first officially mentioned in the 16th and 17th centuries, during the reign of Mihai Viteazul (in Eng. Prince Michael the Brave) (1593-1601). A ruler who, in recognition for the wines produced by the monasteries from Drăgăşani, offered them many donations.
Subsequently, we kept the indigenous grape varieties and also grapevines were replanted by bringing international varieties which found the ideal natural factors, called terroir. And it was proven that the terroir of Drăgăşani DOC is ideal for viticulture thanks to the following elements:
- temperate-continental climate with cold winters and hot summers, with a slight Mediterranean influence;
- reddish-brown soils with portions of clay, shale, and sands;
- high altitude: 193 – 463 m;
- average annual temperature (11.3°C), moderate rainfall, along with sun exposure during the growing season.
Currently, one of the producers of Drăgăşani DOC oriented in making high-quality wines and in the rebirth of traditions is AVINCIS. Vila Dobrușa estate comprises the manor, the AVINCIS winery, 40 hectares of vineyards, several hectares of forestland and the landscaping arrangement.
AVINCIS is the continuation of a family story with passion for wines, which started as early as 1927. Back then, Maria and Iancu Râmniceanu, an appointed officer of the Romanian army by Ionel Brătianu, have bought in Drăgășani a manor in the pure Neo-Romanian style, inspired by the architecture of Brâncovenesc edifices, surrounded by vineyards.
In 2007, their great-granddaughter, Cristiana, together with her husband, Valeriu Stoica, returned to the family estate and had the revelation of the vineyard’s miracle, of the wines and the place’s traditions.
Drăgășani has all the prerequisites of a registered designation, in the French fashion. The Drăgășani Vineyard has always produced fine white wines with good acidity, like the local Crâmpoşie. The red wines from the region, produced chiefly from Cabernet Sauvignon and the local variety Negru de Drăgășani, also enjoy national and international appreciation. These grape varieties gave prestige to the Drăgăşani DOC, where what is happening today represents a new chapter in the Romanian wine history.
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.
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 .
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.
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).
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 AVINCIS, Vinarte or Viile Metamorfosis.