Romanian wine – a multi-millennial Eastern history whose surprising novelties should be tried by any amateur or professional

Don’t forget Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Traminer, Riesling or Muscat Ottonel… but try – and you’d better remember these names, because they will give you extremely pleasant surprises! – Fetească albă, Fetească regală, Crâmpoșie, Grasă, Frâncușă, Șarbă or Zghihară. These are just some of the white grape wines you will enjoy in Romania and only in Romania. As far as black grapes are concerned, the country in the south-east of the Old Continent has tens of thousands of hectares with the international Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir, but also a rich national heritage such as Fetească neagră, Băbească neagră, Negru de Drăgășani or Novac.

It is worth adding that, alongside these wines, Romania has developed a particularly diverse and tasty gastronomy, a synthesis of multiple influences which, for connoisseurs from Europe or other continents in search of something new, are “hidden treasures of the East” worth exploring. Only the particular geopolitical positioning and communist era isolation delayed the rediscovery of this millennia-old wine treasure (Greek settlers found here, brought here and cultivated vines here since before the birth of the Roman Empire).

Romania is Europe’s fifth or sixth largest producer and among the world’s top twelve, according to the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV). There are 8 major wine-growing regions and 34 Denominations of Controlled Origin regulated here under European law, with different soil and climate characteristics, and there are about 180,000 hectares of vineyards planted with indigenous and international high-value grape varieties.

Beyond the size of the plantations and their diversity, wines in Romania also have a millennial tradition of production and consumption, which has been updated to the most modern legislative, technological, aesthetic and scientific standards in recent decades, with the country’s accession to the European Union.

From the South, on the banks of the lower Danube, to the North, in the Transylvanian Plateau and in the Crișurilor Country or in the North-East of Moldavia, and from the South-East, from Dobrogea between the Danube and the Black Sea, to the West, on the border with Hungary, vineyards can be found in all regions where the relief allows this culture. The vineyards at the southern foothills of the Carpathians, with their warmer climate, are particularly famous for their extractive, vigorous red wines, but are also well suited to white wines. Further north of the 45th parallel of Northern latitude, inside the Carpathian arc, in Transylvania and Crișana, where the climate is cooler, as well as in the Eastern outskirts of the Mountains, in the Romanian region of Moldavia, white wines show a particular aromatic and gustatory finesse and red wines, usually more supple than in the southern vineyards, are juicy and expressive.

After the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, Romania, among all the countries in the region, has drawn the attention of foreign wine investors. The first companies with Western European capital (French, Italian, German) appeared before the mid-1990s and continue today to develop the domestic market and to address international markets with products that are increasingly appealing and without competition in terms of diversity and richness of unique varieties, styles and terroir.

Apart from the economic opportunities and the strikingly beautiful geography (mountains, sea, delta etc.), a number of other factors have contributed and continue to contribute to Romania’s attractiveness: the intimate connection of local society to the values of Western civilisation, social order, personal safety and a lifestyle imbued with jovial socialising and sincere hospitality.

(Cezar Ioan – publisher vinul.ro)

Photo credit:

© Calin Stan | Dreamstime.com;  © Dmitrieva Daria | Dreamstime.com;  © Sergei Nezhinskii | Dreamstime.com;  © Cristina Ionescu | Dreamstime.com

Cezar Ioan is a writer, wine journalist, and founder of Vinul.ro, the longest-running specialized publication in Romania (since 2002). He organizes multiple annual wine competitions, provides communication and tourism consultancy to wine producers and wine associations etc. Cezar co-organized the first National Congress for Gastronomy and Wine in Romania, which later led to the Parliament passing the first Sunday of October as a National Day for the Celebration of Gastronomy and Wine in Romania.

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