Romanian Wines Overview

Famous Romanian vineyards
Nine O’Clock – February 6, 2009
by Adriana Vaida

In Romania, grape growing and wine production are traditional activities going back as far as times B.C. Several authors consider that the origins of vitis vinifera lies somewhere along the south and north banks of the lower Danube. Even ancient Greek chronicles mention these occupations as traditional for people living north of the river Danube and their wines as the most famous ones. These statements are nowadays confirmed by Hugh Johnson in his World Encyclopedia for Wines in the following words: “Among Balcanian countries developing the viticulture, Romania is certainly offering the best quality elements.”

Although climatically very different, Romania lies as the same latitude as France, with a coastal region at the Black Sea and the Carpathian Mountains which split the country. The climate, soil and sun exposure are the factors which determine successful wine growing and the quality of the wine. The Romanian climate is highly favourable with a season that lasts from April to October.

From the Romanian native varieties we would like to focus on the Feteasca Neagra, which produces highly original wines. The variety is cultivated on the Moldavian hills since ancient times. It shows great characteristics and is very rare outside our country. Due to its vigorous and short vegetation period (150-160 days), this variety has to be grafted on less sturdy rootstock and to be planted where the soil is not so fertile. The Feteasca Neagra wines are dry or medium-dry, with a high alcohol concentration (over 12% vol.), displaying an average acidity and high extract. The great qualities and the very particular character makes the Feteasca Neagra wine an unmistakable jewel on the shield of Romanian winemaking.

Cotnari – 95 medals in 15 international wine contests

COTNARI is a vineyard in Moldavia, well known for centuries.

Located north – west of Iasi, this village and its vineyards are at least as old as the Capital of Moldavia. Although the vineyard was attested in the 15th century, it seems to have been known since times immemorial. In this area there have been dug out wine cups of the Cucuteni-Tripolie as well as Catalina and Baiceni civilizations, from the Getic-Dacian epoch.

Likewise, Middle Ages Moldavian wine cups and vessels date the old vocation of winemaking in this area. Wine experts have always appreciated the main wine varieties of this vineyard: Feteasca Alba, Tamaioasa, Francusa, Grasa de Cotnari, Marshall Tourism site informs.

Emperors and kings, like the Russian Tzar Peter The Great, or the Polish king Jan Sobietzki, bishops and Catholic monks like Bernardino Quirini or Marco Bandini have praised the Cotnari wines that were always present on their tables. Historians estimate that in the XVI and XVII centuries one sixth of Moldavia’s exports were represented by its wines, of which the Cotnari varieties were the most renowned.

Nowadays the Cotnari vineyard is confined to 1,800 hectares. The mean output per hectare is modest: 70-80 per cent of the output of the other Romanian or foreign vineyards. The wines made at Cotnari are exceptional due to both their rarity and qualities.

Wine-making techniques are as exceptional; likewise, the calcareous soil and the marvelous effect of the ‘noble rot’ (Botrytis cinerea), late vintage after the 15th of September, dehydration of the grapes so as to have sugar reach 210- 260 g per litter of wine juice. All this limits the grape output to 6 tons/hectare for the Grasa and Tamaioasa varieties, 8 tons/hectare for Feteasca Alba and 10 tons/hectare for Francusa. Of course, prices reflect this situation: a litter of wine made in this vineyard may cost twice the price of other Romanian wines.

The COTNARI S.A. company has maintained the old traditions of making wines of exceptional qualities; however, to obtain benefits in the context of the economy market, they will have to increase prices, and this would require a real advertising campaign.

This company has also managed to replant vine on new areas within the Cotnari village: 108 hectares with Feteasca Alba vines and 51 hectares with Tamaioasa Romaneasca, 21 hectares with Francusa and 5 hectares with Grasa varieties. From 1990 to 1997 were made annually 40,000 liters of wine in order to be exported, sold in Romania or aged in the cask rooms.

Wines are sent to various destinations, in oak barrels, stainless steel or glass vessels, like in any European vineyard. The company also has a scientifically organized wine cabinet consisting in 800,000 bottles, some since 1957. 380 full-time employees and 360 part-time ones (during the vintages) take care of the vineyard. Among the full-time employees 40 wine specialists come out on top through their desire to maintain the traditions and the qualities of the vineyard.

The Cotnari wine-makers have been awarded 150 medals in 20 national wine contests and 95 medals in 15 international wine contests.

Panciu – 1,700 hectares of vineyard area

Starting from the Far East and making a halt in the ancient Greece, the grapevine settled down on the territory of the ancient Dacia before Christ.

Getting over the persecutions of the great priest Deceneu, during Buerebista`s reign, who used to consider it harmful, getting over other natural impediments, such as phylloxera, drought and blight, the grapevine is still with us today and we name it exactly as our Dacian ancestors used to.

Placed at the curvature of the Carpathian Mountains, on an area of about 10,000 hectares, the Panciu Vineyard is one of the largest lands under grapevine crop in Romania and the grapes and wines produced here are representative regarding quality and quantity.. Situated in the vineyard core, as sun tears on the golden berry, S.C. VERITAS PANCIU S.A. keeps on the same quality level since almost 50 years (founded in 1949), the site of Marshall Tourism reports.

The main crop is the grapevine, notably the wine grape, but also some table grape. Out of about 1,700 hectares of the vineyard area, more than 1,500 hectares are under crop with fruit-bearing vine.

Since 1968, in the Valea Cerbului wine cellars (founded during the Stephen the Great reign, from the 15th century) the company produces white dry and semidry wines. The capacity of the wine cellars is of 3 millions bottles.

The whole activity of vine growing takes place within 13 farms, while the wine making and its industrialisation takes place in a modern manufacture (more than 1,000 wagons capacity) and in another 4 centres for grapes processing and primary wine making.

Jidvei – elegance, personality, sobriety

The private trade company Jidvei SRL is located in the Tarnave Vineyard, more precisely in the Tarnava Valley, between Tarnaveni and Blaj, at the common border of Mures and Alba districts.

The vine covers over 1,000 ha. Approximately 50 ha are renewed every year. The first state vineyard was founded here in 1949 and it has been gradually extended to a total area of 1,000 ha.

The Jidvei winery is financial healthy, as the exports grow monthly and the consumption is high. The vine plantations were established on the sunny hills on the left-hand side of Tarnava Mica, sheltered from the winds, the late spring and the early autumn hoarfrost. Vines are planted on hills with east-west exposure at an altitude of 400-450 m.

The lands were consolidated and terraced. The brown forest soil enjoys a favourable climate with warm and long autumns, mild summers and winters. The average temperature is 9.9 degrees C.

Many varieties of vine are cultivated, recognized and praised in Romania and around the world: Feteasca Regala (320 ha), Riesling (200 ha), Feteasca Alba (100 ha), Traminer (40 ha), Chardonnay (20 ha). There are also other varieties on 80 ha: Pinot Gris, Oporto and Sylvaner.

The company has changed the name of the wines from “Premiat by Jidvei” in “Jidvei”. Their new visual identity shows elegance, personality, sobriety and simplicity. The new label’s visual communication, personalized graphics, organized information and composition expresses the continuity of Jidvei wine’s quality and personality.

The new premium wines have already appeared on the market, being recognized and enjoyed by customers within the framework of The International Festival of Vine and Wine Bachus 2000 (Focsani, October the 22nd – 28th) and the Expodrink Beverage Market (Romexpo, Bucharest, November the 8th – 11th) Jidvei.