Grasa De Cotnari grapes
From the old vineyards of Cotnari in Romania comes the Blanc variety of Grasa De Cotnari. It has been grown in these vineyards for a very long time, as long as 7 centuries or more.
This variety is specifically cultivated in the Modova Region of the Cotnari Vineyard. This variety is believed to share the same origin with Furmint and modern oenology has concluded that this place of their common origin is Transilvania.
Grasa is also quite similar to Koverszolo which a grape variety grown in the Tojak region of Hungary. Believed by some to have the same common characteristics Koverszolo is often thought to be the same as Grasa De Cotnari. It can often be used to serve with desserts.
Known by many names like Armas, Bajor, Coarna, De Helgras, El Grasz, Fermint, Goher, Grassa Mica, Pataki, Roesser, Som etc it belongs to the species of Vitis Vinifera Linne̒.
It’s a very isolated, limited and exciting wine grape variety which can be used for the production of both dry(without residual sugar) as well semi sweet wine.
History of the Grasa De Cotnari Grape
Radu Rosetti’s mention of these vineyards has been dated as early as 1250. The recorded mention of this variety was again found in 1288.
As written by Costin the Grasa vineyards existed way before the foundation Moldova which happened in 1359. These varieties reached their golden age in the wine market during the rule of Peter II during 1444-1449, Stephen the Great which lasted from 1457-1504 and during the reign of Prince Despot from 1561-1563.
It was during this period that they reached the peak both in terms of their total area of these vineyards as well as the amount of wine produced from these vineyards.
However, it was during the Second World War that their fame started dwindling. He was due to the overall decline in the demand for sweet wines as well as due to the production of bad wines by the Soviet Union during the Communist Era.
After that it was mostly forgotten in the international wine market. Even today this variety is available very rarely, although their quality has improved a lot from the communist era.
Vinification and wine making for Grasa De Cotnari
Grasa de Cotnari is generally Botrytised. Botrytis Cinerea is a fungus which is responsible for the sweetening of this dessert wine due an infection called the Noble Rot.
This fungus helps in removing the water from the grapes and leaves behind very high percentages of sugar, mineral solids and fruit acids. This results in the formation of richer, more complex and concentrated wine.
Although this gives the wine a sweet honeysuckle aroma yet it leaves a bitter taste on the palate. This is a unique process of fermentation, which is caused in nature causing this fungus to act on the grapes in a balanced manner leaving them intact enough for harvesting.
This, however, complicates the winemaking process. Botrytis tends to produce an anti fungal which tends to react with the yeasts used for wine making and kill them. This results in the stopping of the winemaking process before enough alcohol has been formed.
Characteristics of Grasa De Cotnari
The distinguished morphological characteristics of Grasa De Cotnari are the adult autumn coloured leaves which are generally medium in size and are either entire or trilobed. The leaves generally have a reddish coloured main nerve with dark green limb filled with mesophylls.
The variety is type 5 or type 6 hermaphrodite because the flower is self fertilized by its own pollens. The berries are medium to large in size with a cylindrical or conical structure.
They are uneven in size with a greenish yellow coloured skin and a crisp pulp which has a pleasant taste. It is a frost resistant variety and can bear up to a temperature of -20°C to -22°C.
However, it is very sensitive to drought and mild and particularly to grey rot. The sugar quantity is the grape reaches an average of 260-280g/L. Harvested late in October they cause a total production of 7 to 8 tonnes of grapes per hectare.
The wine produced is golden yellow in colour and tastes best when served chilled. They have a natural sweetness to them and a good acidity as well. They have good aging properties and leave the tastes of apricot, almonds and walnut on the palate.
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