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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 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.