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).

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).

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.

Crâmpoșie Selecționată

This is a top-quality, high acidity Romanian variety which produces zesty, mineral-laden whites.

MAIN SYNONYMS: Crâmpoşie Selecționată.

Crâmpoșie Selecționată is a seedling of Crâmpoșie obtained by Emilian Popescu, Marin Neagu and Petre Banita in 1972, at the viticultural research centre in Drăgășani, southwest Romania, in a bid to solve the problem of uneven berry sizes, caused by the functionally female flowers in Crâmpoșie, an old variety thought to have originated in the Drăgășani region in Oltenia, southwest Romania, now supplanted by its more reliable progeny. The selection was obtained by open fertilization of Crâmpoșie, with the other parent unknown.

Relatively vigorous, productive, late ripening. Big bunches of thick-skinned berries. Resistant to rain, heat and fungal diseases.

Crâmpoșie Selecționată, or Crâmpoșie, mainly grows in the Drăgășani region and further east in Panciu and Constanța, on Romania’s Black Sea coast.  The best wines are refined, zesty, high in acidity and have a strong minerality, made even more refreshing by a light bitterness on the finish. It is sometimes blended with other varieties such as SAUVIGNONASSE to increase acidity. Recommended producers include AVINCIS, Casa Isărescu or Prince Știrbey, the latter also experimenting with a sparkling version. In 2008, it was grown on 473 ha (1,169 acres) in Romania. It is also a popular table wine.

Băbească Neagră

A Romanian variety of high acidity, producing fairy light reds.

PRINCIPAL SYNONYMS: Asil Kara (Daghestan), Băbească, Căldărușă, Chernyi Redkii (Ukraine), Crăcană, Crăcănată, Poamă Rară Neagră (Republic of Moldova), Rărăneagră or Rară Neagră (Republic of Moldova), Răschirată, Rastriopa (Republic of Moldova), Serecsia Ciornaia (Republic of Moldova), Sereksia (Ukraine), Sereksiya (US)

This is a very old Romanian variety, Băbească Neagră literally meaning ‘grandmother’s black.’ It most likely originated in the Nicorești vineyards in the county of Galați in the Romanian region of Moldova, bordering on Ukraine, where it was allegedly mentioned in documents as early as the 14th century and where it still shows significant intravarietal diversity (an indication of its age), including colour mutations with white (Băbească Albă) and green-grey or pink berries (Băbească Gri) (Dejeu 2004).

Vigorous, mid budding, late ripening. Prone to millerandage, especially if yields are high. Medium-sized to large loose bunches of thin-skinned berries. Susceptible to botrytis bunch rot, powdery and downy mildews and drought but resistant to winter frosts (to -18 °C/-o.4 °F).

Wines are typically high in acidity, not very deeply coloured, with red-fruit flavours, mostly sour cherry. In Romania, it was grown on 4,516 ha (11,159 acres) in 2008, meaning it was quite widely planted but with the majority in Galați in the east. Most wines are ordinary and consumed locally but some higher-quality wines come from Nicorești and Odobești, the former giving its name to an appellation for this variety. Senator are unusual in producing a more serious varietal wine from the sandy terraces north of the Danube in the far south of the country. Senator have just a few hectares of the pink-berried Grey Băbească in Huși in the far east of Romania and make a clean, very fresh white wine with mineral rather than fruit flavours and a note of lime on the finish.

The Republic of Moldova had 80 ha (198 acres) of Rară Neagră in 2009. Recommended producers include Dionysos Mereni. According to Galet (2000), also planted in Ukraine.

IG Dealurile Olteniei

The wine area of Dealurile Olteniei (in Eng.: Oltenia Hills) is located in the South-West of Romania, in the historical region of Oltenia. And unlike the famous vineyards in the area, Dealurile Olteniei G.I. (Geographical Indication) refers to the entire wine-producing area covered by the five counties that form Oltenia. This does not mean that these wines are classified as inferior in comparison to the wines with denomination of origin (D.O.C.). The difference lies in the territorial delimitation which is less strict and the winemaker has more “freedom of creation”. A detail which in many cases can produce delightful surprises.

The story of viticulture and wine from Dealurile Olteniei G.I., dates from ancient times, even before Romania or Oltenia existed as national or local concepts. The archaeological excavations indicate the presence of viticultural activity since the period of the Dacian king Burebista (82-44 BC). Subsequently, the history of wine and Oltenia becomes almost impossible to summarize. Since the Middle Ages and continuing to the present, Oltenia was the “theater” of an almost uninterrupted series of wars, revolutions, uprising, or permutations of land and power between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire. Moreover, during the 1860s was the biggest natural disaster in the history of European and Romanian viticulture, produced by the insect phylloxera. Unfortunately, after the attack, the grapevines from Oltenia were decimated and some local varieties perished.

However, the tenacious and fiery Oltenian spirit managed to triumph and along with it, the vines and the wines produced in the area of the five counties. Thus, at the beginning of the 20th century, the Dealurile Olteniei G.I. held 30% of the total viticultural are of Romania, and 34% of the total production of red wine.
Over the centuries, Dealurile Olteniei G.I. proved to be an ideal area for growing high-quality grape varieties, due to the “blessing” of very good pedo-climatic conditions like:

  • temperate-continental climate with hot summers and warm autumns that provide the grape ripening;
  • very good solar exposure, rich heliometric resources and a low average of rainfall;
  • brown-reddish fertile soils, along clay and sand in some areas of the region;
  • the vineyards are located on open slopes, in hills which have an amphitheater layout and southern, eastern, and western exposure.

In Dealurile Olteniei G.I., one of the main producers is Oprişor Winery. Located in Mehedinţi, and owning a vineyard of 242 hectares the producer in Oltenia is an investment of the German Group Reh Kendermann GmbH. In this area, aromatic and expressive grape varieties as Tămâioasă Românească and Fetescă Neagră were planted. Also, the Oprişor Winery planted international varieties like Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon and successfully experimented in Romania with en primeur grapes like Zinfandel and Dornfelder.

And taking in consideration that wine is a product that expresses the features of its area of origin, Crama Oprişor relied on the myths, legends, and traditions, bringing a revival of “Profound Oltenia” with brands like Maiastru, Caloian, Rusalcă Albă or Drăgaică Roșie.

IG Dealurile Sătmarului

On North-West of Romania, formerly a part of the old land of Partium, at the crossroads of Crişana, Sătmar and Maramureş, Beltiug is a realm full of history, with a special local charm and picturesque and hardworking people.

With a unique story that will be again spoken around its wines, this place is gaining international public attention, after a long period of anonymity. The living proof is the new vines which fill Dealurile Sătmarului (in En.: Sătmarului Hills), the quality of the wines, the renovation of the wineries and cellars, and the renewal of traditions from this region.

In this area, the vineyard has a cool climate with abundant rainfall. The winters are mild and safe from the cold winds and blizzards. Also, the temperature drops by 3-4°C in September, which helps preserve the flavors and acids in the grapes.

Located at a crossroad of regions, Beltiug is an area for viticulture and winemaking designated with the G.I. (Geographical Indication) of “Dealurile Sătmarului”. Wines made here are reflecting the terroir of a smaller area. This gives to the local producers the possibility of achieving wines with protected origin, made with respect for quality and consumer and with more “freedom of expression“.

One of the most representative wineries here is Nachbil. The legend starts around 1085, in the time of King Ladislaus I of Hungary, after a fierce battle with the Pechenegs (migratory population of Turkish origin). After the battle, to the King was brought a pumpkin filled with wine, which made him ask ironically about the variety of the pumpkin, (in Hungarian, “Bél” = content and “tek” = pumpkin). Later, in the eighteenth century, during the time of Count Károly Sándor, this area was called “Bacchus’ residence”. Obviously, colonizing the area with people from Oberschwaben (Swabian or Schwaben), which with their spirit, produced a true renaissance in viticulture and winemaking.

The cellars were built by the animal merchants and were used for the production of wine in small quantities for their own consumption

Pursuing the story to the present, in Beltiug, Răteşti and Ardud were built hundreds of cellars on two or three levels “buried” in the hills, some of them being kept in a functional condition even today. The cellars were built by the animal merchants and were used for the production of wine in small quantities for their own consumption. Sometimes, in these buildings, customers were brought to close a transaction. What is gratifying is that this tradition began to be revived in the last 10-15 years.

The tradition of the Beltiug wines continues today, with the founding of the Nachbil Winery in 1999. This occurred after the return of the Brutler family from Germany (this time a “repatriation of the Swabian/Schwaben”) by planting red and white grape varieties. The project was thoroughly planned, on a total surface of almost 25 hectares.

The wines are created by Johann and Edgar Brutler, father-son, with respect, dedication, and love for grapevines, using the technological element to a minimum degree. The white wines are fruity, with high acidity and velvety texture, the rosé is delicious and elegant, whereas the red wines are full-bodied, flavorful, and extractive with a long and aromatic aftertaste. And so, step by step, Nachbil contributes every day, like a puzzle piece, in rewriting the story of this region.

DOC Lechinţa

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.
The climate is temperate-continental and the grape ripening is provided by:
  • hot and humid summers, followed by warm autumns;
  • Eastern and Western exposure;
  • Planting the vines at an altitude of 300-500 meters high.
However, what distinguishes Lechinţa Vineyard are the foggy days of late summer and early autumn. They are important because they offer:
  • slow ripening of the grapes;
  • preservation of flavors;
  • maintaining a high level of acidity. 
In a certain realm of Transylvania, the mystery and myths are mingled with the local charm of the village Batoş,Liliac Winery’s birthplace”. Here, the viticulture tradition is very old, dating back to ancient times (IV – V cent BC), as confirmed in the writings of Homer and Herodotus. Subsequently, a new chapter was written in the 12thcentury, when the German colonists arrived in Transylvania, producing a real renaissance in the art of creating wines.

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.

At Liliac Winery, the Fetească “Family” is reunited. Alongside the red variety, there are Fetească Albă and Fetească Regală – white wines with high acidity, light body, floral notes, citrus aromas and great minerality.
“Orange wine” is the winery’s latest surprise. The method consists in obtaining extractive white wine, using the winemaking style for red wines.

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.