Written on 25-11-2015 by Dusan Jelic, Bucharest, Belgrade
An ancient legend claims that Dionysus, the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness, fertility, theatre and religious ecstasy, was born in what is today Romania! Plato had declared vineyards situated on what is today Romania's soil - to be the best in the world!
Therefore, we have to very carefully consider the local winemaking traditions and a rich history of Romanian wines!
The estimated local area under the vines in 2013 was approximately 180,000 hectares in various wine regions such as: Podisul Transilvaniei, Dealurile Moldovei, Dealurile Munteniei & Olteniei, Dealurile Banatului, Dealurile Crisanei & Maramuresului, Colinele Dobrogei and Terasele Dunarii. The wine industry matured considerably in the past two decades and quality of wines at present is simply extraordinary. The production of grapes in Romania has recorded 950,000 tones in 2013, up by 27% compared to 2012. The wine production in Romania has recorded approximately 5.1 million hectoliters in 2013, up by 55% compared with 2012. Out of the total production of quality wines in Romania in 2013, white wines have represented 71%, red wines 27% and rosé wines 2% of the total production.
I firmly believe that the most promising vinous development in Romania is sustainable promotion and presenting to the world her flagship indigenous varieties, such as Fetească Regala (13,000 ha), Fetească Albă (10,000 ha), Băbească Neagră (3,000 ha), Rosioara (2,400 ha), Fetească Neagră (2,000 ha), Novac and a few others.
There are many opportunities to visit wine-producing regions and discover many different wines of Romania, from little known local and regional wines to Romania’s great wine labels, such as Murfatlar, Cotnari, Jidvei, Dealu Mare, Odobeşti, Vincon, Tohani and many more. There are approximately 200 wine producers in Romania.
I feel somehow that the two most important local varieties are Feteasca Alba (white) and Feteasca Negra (red). Historically speaking the gold medals from 2013 Mondial du Bruxelles for both of these wines made by Halewood winery as well as awarded Feteasca Negra wine from Oprisor winery are just an indication of the latest developments. Two very good producers of Feteasca Alba, for instance, are Villa Vinea and Liliac winery from the Transylvania region.
The seventh edition of the judging at Premiile de Excelenta Vinul.ro competition was held in Bucharest on November 4 and 5, 2015. It confirmed that international varieties are very popular among the Romanian winemakers and wine public. However, a very pleasant surprise for me was a very significant increase in quality of the indigenous Romanian varieties I have tasted. Premiile de Excelenta competition this year included 181 Romanian wines. Total of 79 wines were made exclusively from the local indigenous varieties, and wines made exclusively from the indigenous varieties achieved four gold and sixteen silver medals!
A team of 18 judges were invited, divided in 3 panels to assess the selected wines from Romania, as well as a few imported wines. I was participating as a second panel leader at the 2015 Premiile de Excelenta competition. It was an excellent opportunity for both local and international panel members to assess the current state of affairs of the Romanian wine industry. We had great conditions for judging including full support of dedicated members of the www.vinul.ro team.
In two days of judging we carefully scrutinized top white, rose, red, sparkling and sweet wines and found dozens of world class wines across all categories. In addition to superb rendition of their indigenous varieties which in my mind are already ‘the flavor of the year’ on the global wine market, I was particularly satisfied with the top level red wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varieties, and a few great blends of indigenous Romanian and international varieties in both white and red wine categories.
A lot of foreign investments arrived in the local wine industry. From the National Support Programme 2009-2013, Romania has absorbed 100% of the available EU funds for the wine industry. Much of this funding has been used to modernize production equipment and storage facilities, mainly using imported units, installations and equipment. In addition to the above, through the National Support Programme 2014-2018, the annual amount of the EU financial support to Romanian producers in the wine sector amounts to €47.7 million. The measures included in the programme are:
* Restructuring and conversion of vineyards
* Wine promotion
* Harvest insurance
* Investments and
I also met a few extremely knowledgeable sommeliers, wine journalists and other wine professionals from Romania. It is evident that for a while, the eyes of the wine lovers throughout the world are cast on Romania. I would expect the next step would be the energetic and vigorous development of wine tourism in all eight wine producing regions in the country. In that way the world can see how great Romanian wine industry is at the moment. The future looks bright and I am so happy to spread the story of intensive, sustainable and powerful growth of the Romanian wine industry.
In Romania I also found Kadarka - a red, native Balkan variety, probably originating from Serbia, and displaying a ruby-red color with a stinging taste of fresh clove. Kadarka (or Gamza in Bulgarian) was the wine of the imperial court of Vienna during the reign of Emperor Franz Josef, in the XVIII century.
One of the highlights of my visit was also meeting Ms. Aurelia Visinescu, known as Madame Fetească Neagră and tasting her extraordinary wines. She has worked and consulted for many wineries in Dealu Mare: Valea Calugareasca, Ceptura, Urlati, Gura Vadului and Tohani. Madame Visinescu realized where she can produce the best wines and decided to invest at Domeniile Sahateni. Perhaps Madame Fetească Neagră can help finally putting that variety at her proper place - as the flagship variety and pride of Romania!