Robert Marshall provides a high-level view on 8 wine regions in Romania: Banat, Crișana, Dobrogea, Moldova, Muntenia, Oltenia and Transilvania.
Author: Robert Marshall© Personal archive
© Alina Iancu
Banat is the country’s smallest wine region, located in the West of Romania. Historically,the region’s viticulture was shaped in the middle ages by settlers of Swabian German and Hungarian origin. Some of these diverse influences are still noticeable today, namely in the grape varieties that are cultivated including Cadarcă, Blaufränkisch and Furmint. In 2017 the area under vine reached 2,845 ha and the region has a continental climate with Mediterranean influences with a range of soils such as clay,sand and limestone.
Dobrogea is in the South West of Romania, between the Danube and the Black sea.The proximity to the Black sea means that winters are milder, and summers can be warm, with, on average, 300 hours of sunshine and low rainfall and drought as an occasional threat. The area is low in altitude and as of 2017 totals 16,948 ha under vine. Traditionally known for commercial sweet, white wine, the region now has many smaller scale producers that planted new vines, using international clones,with investments in modern equipment and facilities with a greater focus on quality.The dry climate also means some organic viticulture has begun to emerge.
Moldova is in the Eastern part of Romania, being the biggest region under vine in Romania with an impressive 69,154 ha. Altitudes range from 200 – 500 m and vines are planted on a diverse range of soils usually facing South or South West. The region has many d.o.c.s that are noted for local grape varieties such as Grasă de Cotnari, Zghihară de Huși, Busuioacă de Bohotin, Plăvaie and Șarbă. Once noted for making bulk wines for the local market, Moldova is fast becoming a dynamic and exciting region for producing fresh white and rosé wines, traditional method sparkling wines and premium, aged red wines.
Muntenia lies on the famous forty-fifth parallel, along with Bordeaux and Tuscany and is noted for a high concentration of wineries in the Dealu Mare region, which stretches 65 km from the Counties of Buzau to Prahova. The summers are hot and autumns are mild which may account for the often heavy red wines that hail from the region. Vineyards are planted on at altitudes of between 130 – 550 m on South facing slopes with an annual rainfall of 640 mm.Many new investors have been attracted to the area, which is now home to several producers of notable red wines; many made from Fetească Neagră or blended with other notable international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot.
Oltenia has several d.o.c. regions that have gained a good reputation for producing quality wines. One of the most famous is Drăgășani, which sits close by to the river Olt,from which the region takes its name, and is noted for its plantings of several local grapes such as Crâmpoșia Selecționată, Novac and Negru de Drăgășani as well as many international varieties. Travelling further west are other notable d.o.c.s such as Sâmburești which produces Cabernet Sauvignon on clay soil, Segarcea and, closer towards the river Danube, Mehedinți, which is sunny and warm with a temperate continental climate.
Transylvania is fast becoming an exciting region for cool climate varietals such as Riesling and Pinot Noir. Altitudes can be as high as 600 m, night temperature can be cool with the risk of frost and winter cold, and occasionally drop as low as –30 °C. The cooler climate provides fresh acidity in wines along with balanced levels of alcohol.The region is also home to Fetească Regală which can make floral and expressive wines and is often featured in blends. Many foreign winemakers have not only been attracted to the region because of its huge potential, but also because of its out standing and spectacular surroundings.
Article based on information published in the book “The wines of Bulgaria, Romania and Moldova”, by Caroline Gilby, 2018, publisher: Infinite Ideas Limited, UK