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.
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.
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).
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.
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 SERVE, Aurelia Vişinescu Wines, Davino, Crama Gîrboiu, Casa 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.
Lechinţa DOC (Designation of Origin) is formed from several villages located in the heart of Transylvania, where viticulture and wine production were brought to life in the past years. Located at the base of the Carpathian Mountains, between two rivers, this region, forgotten in the past decades, is beginning to rebuild its status with great, memorable wines.
In this area predominates brown soils and clay-iluvial, rich in calcium and iron. Which are ideal for viticulture, due to:
- medium texture;
- moderate acidity;
- good fertility.
- hot and humid summers, followed by warm autumns;
- Eastern and Western exposure;
- Planting the vines at an altitude of 300-500 meters high.
- slow ripening of the grapes;
- preservation of flavors;
- maintaining a high level of acidity.
This story is continued to the present by Austrian businessman Alfred Michael Beck. Along with winemaker Rudolf Krizan and a Romanian-Austrian team, they helped the wines from Liliac Winery to make quite a name for themselves.
Cultivated on an area of about 52 hectares, Liliac Wines surprised everyone primarily through innovation. And they achieved this by creating elegant, mature and savory red wines, with a long aftertaste, as nobody ever made before in Lechinţa. Thus, Feteasca Neagră was simply reinvented.
Liliac is a young winery that expresses the best part of the terroir from DOC Lechinţa and brings a new and powerful “facet” to the wines of Romania. Grape varieties that one can find here: Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat Ottonel, Pinot Gris, Fetească Regală, Fetească Albă, Chardonnay.