A Trip through the Wines of Romania


If you haven't had wines from Romania, you’re missing out. Big time!

I know this is a bold statement. With so many amazing wines being produced worldwide today. But, with that being said, I am convinced that there should be room in our cellars for some good bottles of Fetească Neagră (Black Maiden in English), arguably, the most renowned native grape variety of the country. The grape is very high in phenolic compounds, giving the wine an intense ruby-red color, a firm structure, and excellent aging potential (hence, the recommendation for the cellar). Aromas and flavors would be reminiscent of blackcurrants, black cherries and plums. In the hands of a good winemaker, they become truly delicious wines.
Two other very good bets for getting a very unique “Romanian taste” are Babească Neagra (Black Grandmother) with, in most cases, present to the eye a vivid ruby-red color and to the palate a remarkably fresh acidity.  The second one is Negru de Drăgășani (NdD - Black from Drăgășani). With lots of berries and red cherries on the palate, but with a fairly decent tannic structure, it is one of my favorite wines from Romania. Think of a very good Cru Beaujolais and you get NdD. I’m quite sure you will love “enedeedee” too! [smile]

But wait! If you are a white wine drinker, the white Feteascăs — Albă (White Maiden) and Regală  (Royal Maiden) — are also worth trying. The first is slightly floral, with refreshing acidity, and a bone-dry finish (unless someone decided to leave some residual sugar to tame the high acid, just like it is done with some Rieslings in Germany. The latter is considered to be the one that consistently delivers wines of high quality. The color tends to be golden yellow with some greenish hues. It can be very floral, with tropical flavors and herbs on the nose and palate. In many cases, producers decide to make blends of the two. The results vary drastically. But the best ones are very complex and give you the certainty that Romania can produce white wines of very high quality.

If you are interested in “family ties,” Fetească Neagră is said to be the “mother” of Fetească Albă and the grandmother of Fetească Regală. Meanwhile, Fetească Regală is the daughter of Fetească Albă and Grasă de Cotnari. In regards to Negru de Drăgășani, there’s a debate: Some suggest that the parents are Negru Virtos and Băbească Neagră, while others say that they are Negru Virtos and Saperavi.

Other very interesting native grape varieties are:

Reds: Novac, with lots of berries, fresh acidity, and a from tannic structure; Cadarcă, with its exotic aromas and flavors.

Whites: Crâmpoşie, some fresh and elegant wines with floral notes; Tămâioasă Românească (Romanian Muscatel), wines with floral aromas and tropical flavors.

There are also many high quality wines (reds and whites) made from international (mostly French) grape varieties. For the reds you will find many wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Petit Verdot, and Syrah are the most common. For the whites, Muscat Ottonel, Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc, Aligoté, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Riesling Italico - (or Italian Riesling - called Welschriesling in Germany), and Viognier.
Rosé wines seem to be very popular in Romania these days (like they are also popular here in the US and elsewhere). They are made from indigenous grape varieties such as Fetească Neagră and Busuioacă de Bohotin, but also from international grapes such as Pinot Noir, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. Blends are very common in this category too. Many of them are dry, but a good share of them contains at least some residual sugar (and sometimes a lot of it!).

In my experience, some of the most amazing Romanian bottles happen to be sparkling wines made in the traditional method (second fermentation in the bottle). Most of them are made with their indigenous grape varieties, such as Fetească Albă, Fetească Regală, Crâmpoşie Selecţionată, Busuioacă de Bohotin, Tămâioasă Românească, Frâncușa, Grasă de Cotnari, Băbească Neagră. They also make some delicious sparkling wines with international grape varieties. The one used most successfully is by a long shot Pinot Noir.

Below I included a list of my "favorite" and "also worth checking" wineries by region.

My favorite wineries: Crama Petro Vaselo, Cramele Recaș
Also worth checking: Crama Aramic, Crama Daiconi and Crama Thesaurus

My favorite wineries: Crama Balla Geza, Crama Nachbil, Crama Carestelec, Elite Wine.
Also worth checking: Fort Silvan, Crama Ratești
My favorite wineries: Crama Alira, Domeniul Vlădoi, Via Viticolă Sarica Niculițel
Also worth checking: Clos de Colombes, Crama Darie, Delta Dunării – La Sapata, Domeniul Bogdan, Crama Rasova, Crama Histria, Crama Trantu, Crama Viișoara, Vinuri de Măcin

My favorite wineries: Casa de Vinuri Cotnari, Crama Gîrboiu, Domeniile Averești
Also worth checking: Casa Ochean, Domeniile Panciu, Vincon, Senator Wine, Domeniile Hermeziu, Tata și Fiul Winery

My favorite wineries: Crama Amfiteatru Vitis, Crama Aurelia Vișinescu, Crama Budureasca, Crama Davino, Crama Ferdi, Crama S.E.R.V.E., Domeniile Tohani, Crama Apogeum (Valahorum), Crama 1000 Chipuri, Domeniile Dealu Mare Urlati, , LacertA Winery, Licorna Winehouse, Viile Metamorfosis
Also worth checking: Crama Ceptura, Domeniile Anastasia, Domeniile Blaga, Domeniile Franco-Române,  Crama Dagon Clan,  Crama Rotenberg, Crama  Kelaru, Cramele Halewood

My favorite wineries: Vinarte, Crama Oprișor, Corcova Winery, Catleya, Domeniile Coroanei Segarcea, Galicea Mare, Casa de Vinuri Negrini, Crama Avincis, Crama Bauer, Crama Prince Știrbey
Also worth checking: Crama 7arts, Domeniile Sâmburești Crama Cepari, Via Sandu, Domeniul Drăgași
My favorite wineries: Crama Jidvei, Crama La Salina, Crama Liliac, Villa Vinea
Also worth checking: Domeniile Boieru, Crama Jelna, Crama Lechburg

Before finishing, I would like to express my eternal gratitude to the people who received me with open arms (and open hearts) in Romania: Marinela Ardelean [ The Wine Book of Romania ] and Razvan Stoenescu [ The Ambassador of the #winelover community for Romania ]. They “showed me the way” and this was one of the most amazing things that happened in this crazy journey called life. Multumesc!

So… as we say in Romania… Noroc!

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