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DOC Mehedinti

Located within the regions of Banat and Oltenia, in Southwest Romania and the border with SerbiaMehedinţi County is a generous area for viticulture and enology. The entire area is replete with wineries and the vineyard hills are almost boundless. The explanation lies in the excellent natural conditions that the DOC site benefits of:

  • temperate-continental climate with Mediterranean influences;
  • red-brown soils of medium texture, with black earth, clay, and loam, rich in iron oxide;
  • hot and dry summers followed by mild winters;
  • the opportunity to plant vines on smooth slopes and plateaus with southern exposure;
  • very good solar exposure, rich helio resources, and good atmospheric precipitations.

Obviously, a terroir like the one in Mehedinţi could not be overlooked throughout the centuries. The wine and the vines in this area have been mentioned since ancient times. But the first official document of the area of Mehedinţi DOC was made in 1407 during the rule of the famous Mircea cel Batran (in En: Mircea the Elder) (1397-1418).

The story continued and is still maintained today, through the work of two representative wineries for the Mehedinţi regionCorcova Roy&Dâmboviceanu and Vinarte.

Şerban Dâmboviceanu

Corcova Roy&Dâmboviceanu is a winery founded by Şerban Dâmboviceanu and Michel Roy in 2005 which revives the millennial tradition of wine from this village. Spread over an area of 60 hectares, the plantation from Corcova includes French varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat OttonelChardonnay, Pinot Noir, MerlotCabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. The classical local variety, Fetească Neagră, is planted here, with excellent results.

During 2008-2009, they managed to completely restore the cellar built by Anton Bibescu after the original plans. And thus succeeded in preserving something from the Bibescu family era and from the early period of the 20th century, when the wines produced in Corcova were delivered to Paris to be tasted by the artists of the period, lead by Marcel Proust.

 

Also, in Mehedinţi lies Castel Stârmina winery, with an area of 190 hectares. Of the three wineries owned by VINARTE in three different regions, this one is the largest surface owned. The maritime climate, provided by the Danube, along with Mediterranean influences helped winemakers to experiment until some outstandingly unique wines were created. Thus, at Stârmina they started to produce Sirena Dunării, a sweet white wine made after the Sauternes method of using late-harvest dried grapes. The red wines are also highlighted, examples in this respect being Prince Mircea or Nedeea, a blend of three Romanian varieties – Fetească NeagrăNegru de Drăgăşani and Novac.

The Mehedinţi DOC has the credit of being a region in constant evolution, “open” in introducing new grape varieties and winemaking styles and recognized for producing flavourful wines with rich extract, and good ageing potential.

DOC Dragasani

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 symbol of rebirth for the Romanian wine, under the sign of tradition and modernity.

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.

 

DOC Dealu Mare

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.

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.

DOC Cotnari

Birthplace of the Romanian variety, Grasa of Cotnari

Cotnari Vineyard is located in the historical region of Moldova, in the North-East part of Romania, and also located within the European Northern limit for grapevine growing. Located at 45-50° North latitude, Cotnari DOC has a select company formed by vineyards like Tokay (Hungary), Rheingau (Germany) and Champagne (France).

Ştefan cel Mare

The story begins in the Neolithic period, during the Cucuteni Culture (5.500-2.700 BC), when in the are of Cotnari grape seeds and pottery with traces of wine have been found. Obviously, the art of vine cultivation and making wine was continued during the Geto-Dacian, but fame was achieved much later.

The name of the Cotnari village was officially dated for the first time on October 5, 1448, and soon after this region gained consecration during the glorious reign of Stephen the Great (Ştefan cel Mare) (1457-1504). From this time dates the famous Cotnari assortment, known also as the “wine of the voivode”. A blend which was obtained only from Romanian grape varieties like Frâncuşă (20%), Fetească Albă (30%), Grasă de Cotnari (30%) and Busuioacă of Moldova (10%) (now known as Tămâioasă Românească). A “recipe” for nearly 600 years, which can be tasted even in our days, as all grape varieties are still grown.

The quality of the Cotnari wine was confirmed in the 15th century when in a wine catalog from Venice, Grasa de Cotnari was listed as the most expensive wine.

Certainly, the wines produced in the Cotnari DOC had for centuries their moments of glory. For example, after a visit of Peter the Great in Iaşi in 1711, the Russian Czar exclaimed enthusiastically that he has never known a better wine like Cotnari. Shortly after, the prince and scholar Dimitrie Cantemir mentioned in 1716, that Cotnari is the best wine from the entire region of Moldova.

In a document written in Paris, in 1875 the wine produced in Cotnari was considered equal to the Tokay wines and superior to the wines produced in Germany, in the Rhine region.

In 1889 and 1890, the wines produced in the Cotnari DOC confirmed for the first time in the international wine élite. Thus, the wines obtained at the International Exhibition in Paris, the Grand Prix title.

A full history, which is in continuous evolution, whose progress would not have been so spectacular if the Cotnari DOC area would not have provided best climate and soil conditions for the grapevines. In short, the Cotnari terroir has the following features:

    • soils formed from mold, marl, sand, clay and sandstone portions;
    • high altitude ranging between 231 and 395 meters;
    • temperate-continental climate with cold drafts influence from the east;
    • good level of rainfall;
    • southern exposure of the vines disposed on plateaus, hillsides, terraces and valleys.

After the communist era and the uncertain period of the 1990’s, the wines from Cotnari DOC regained the trust and respect of the educated Romanian consumer of wine. An enterprise started in 2007, by the company Casa de Vinuri Cotnari was a great turning point for the Romanian wine industry, focusing on the exclusive exploitation of the Romania varieties. Grapes such as Grasă de Cotnari, Tămâioasă Românească, Fetească Albă, Busuioacă de Bohotin and Fetească Neagră, which restore the Cotnari DOC’s legend and from which are produced wines linked to the present.

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 AVINCIS, 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, AVINCIS, 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.