Feteasca Neagra grapes
Romania sits at the crossroads of Europe. Although being a multicultural country, Romania’s traditions and core values are as ancient as the country itself.
Etymologically, the nation means ‘citizen of Rome’, although none of the demographic indicators tell us that Roman descendants exist here.
It could also mean the land of the Romani people, an ethnic Indian community, who migrated to Romania as nomadic travellers some 1,500 years ago.
Originating from the north-west, these people have adapted to Europe’s traditions and cultures, but have retained their core ancient values.
Winemaking in Romania however, remains an obscure practice as only a locally followed practice.
Romania in general, has never been attested towards winemaking, let alone grape cultivation.
This scenario, however, has seen rapid changes in the last century as modern technology has ruled out any chances of continental countries to not cultivate grapes.
Non-winemaking nations of the Balkans and eastern regions that were once part of the USSR are now rapidly developing their own unique wine industries.
Known as purely indigenous and for local use, grapes like the Vranac of Macedonia are fast becoming very popular in the international wine scene.
The two historically major exporters of wines, Italy and France, still remain dominant in the wine market, but a considerable share of the wine industry is being occupied by these eastern nations as well.
Feteasca Neagra is one such grape, coming from the Moldovan nation of Romania that has started to grip winemakers’ attention.
Romanian winemaking itself has gone major developments starting from the 1990 after the death of the former Soviet Empire.
Incentives and investments coming from western nations rapidly changed the face of the once poor Romanian economy, and the wine industry here.
What is Feteasca Neagra?
Feteasca Neagra is one grape variety that is fast becoming popular in Romania and regions surrounding the landlocked nation.
Considered as an indigenous to Romania, its exact origins remain unknown, although winemaking in Romania is almost a six millennia old practice.
The practice that existed during Roman times when this region was the province of Dacia, underwent a steady decline when Romania, Wallachia and Moldova, neighbouring nations came under the Ottoman Empire in the 1500s.
The Turks’ rapid advance well into Central Europe and centuries of Ottoman rule in this region changed the way Romanians cultivated grapes.
No longer was it extensively allowed, although the Ottoman rule being tolerant under the sultans like Suleiman I, some of the wine industry did flourish in villages and local estates.
Feteasca Neagra then suffered another drawback during the Soviet era when it got completely wiped out from its Moldovan homeland.
Only some seeds could have survived that time and found their new home in Romania, where it’s not mostly grown in the eastern part of the landlocked country.
Translating into English as ‘black maiden’ the grape has received feedback as having some enormous prospects for local wine farmers to enter into serious business.
This grape has characteristics similar to some good quality grapes from Western Europe and is being commonly used as a blending agent with Sauvignon and Merlot.
Characteristics of Feteasca Neagra
Feteasca Neagra grows the best in Romanian soil that is mostly plain grasslands very close to the Steppes to its east and northeast.
It is high yielding and is very resistant to frost, drought and rot, providing enormous incentive for comparatively Romanian vine farmers who remain economically poorer as compared to their European counterparts.
Mid-season budding variety vegetates some 160 days after budding. Proper maturity is required for the grape to develop enough sugars and tartaric acids for further fermentation process to continue without issues.
A typical Feteasca Neagra cluster is cylindrical in shape and gives off medium-sized berries with a dark purple extract.
When fully matured and fermented, Feteasca Neagra gives off neat aromas with a wide variety of flavours depending on the fermentation process.
It is a flexible variety that can provide red fruit wines that have to be consumed young or beverages that can well be aged in oak barrels to produce stronger and fruitier characteristics.
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