Vineyard intracarpathian, Danubian-Pontic.
I. Vineyard intra-Carpathian, Transylvanian
Vineyards are spread all over this region due to its uneven configuration, which explains the wide range of exposures, slopes and various microclimates that can be found here. The largest vineyards stretch along the region's main valleys: the Mures, the Tarnave and the Some?, the three major rivers that drain the region. The southwest part of the plateau is also known as "Tara Vinului" (Land of Wine) and its specificity is given by the numerous vineyards that form a large and compact whole.
The lithologic substratum is represented by Neocene marine sediments, formed mainly from argil and sand (marl with elements of grit stone, limestone, pudding stone and volcanic tuba), as well as local reshuffling of a sedimentary nature on the slopes and of an alluvial nature in the valleys, all of them having a tendency towards pedo-diagenetic loessification.
The relief is uneven, hilly, with an average altitude of 400 m the hills range from 200-300 m to 500-600 m--, having slopes varying from 3[degrees] to 25[degrees] and being affected by denudation processes (erosion, ravines, landslides), as well as by the various exposures to the sun and winds. This relief contributes to a large extent to the spatial diversification of environmental features and, consequently, to the expanding of the evaluation scale used for determining where to grow different varieties of vine. The most suitable environments can be found on sunny slopes and the banks of large valleys, where vine growing represents the most efficient, economic and profitable activity, as the land cannot be used for other agricultural purposes.
Both surface and underground rivers qualify as superior or medium drinkable waters that are suitable for the wine-growing activity, except for those which pass through saline domes while flowing along the valleys.
The climate is of Central-European, moderate-continental type, characterised by average hot summers and average cold winters, but not without extreme positive or negative temperatures, which can be damaging for the vines in some years. The average temperature is of approximately 9[degrees]C; the difference of temperature for end-scale months (January and July) is moderate (23[degrees]C), but the interval between the minimum and maximum temperatures recorded during several years can reach and exceed 70[degrees]C. There is, consequently, the obvious need to protect the vines during winter, especially against temperatures of -18 to -20[degrees]C that can last for long. On the other hand, the annual heliothermal resources prove to have a major positive impact on wine growing. They are estimated in terms of global solar radiation of 110-125 kcal/[cm.sup.2], sun exposure of approximately 2,000 ha and a total of positive temperatures of between 3,000[degrees]C and 3,600[degrees]C. Although moderate, these values ensure a complete ripening of the grapes. The average rain-fall, approximately 650 mm/year, succeeds in balancing the potential evapo-perspiration and proves to be sufficient in terms of quantity, although it is either locally insufficient--such as in the case of the west-south-west part of the plateau--or excessive, such as in the east-north-east areas. The predominance of westerly winds, coming from the west, northwest or southwest, can be easily noticed. These winds cross the Western Carpathians and their foehn features are beneficial for the winegrowing activity carried out on the plateau.
The vegetation is generally specific for deciduous tree forests, but in the western part of the plateau, namely on the Transylvanian Plain and the Mures Valley, it is specific for secondary anthropic silvo-steppe areas.
The forest soil predominates throughout this region--brown and alluvial brown, partially pseudogleyic--, together with chernozems--cambic and clay-illuvial--which, alongside brown soils, are extremely suitable for wine-growing and are used for this purpose where no other plants are cultivated on a comparatively large scale. Apart from the above-mentioned soils, other soils that can be found on the slopes affected by advanced to accelerated erosion regosols and erodisols--are also used for wine-growing. The fact that their level of fertility is reduced is compensated by the use of fertilisers and anthropic earthwork.
Nevertheless, one should always be aware that the widely appreciated vineyards of Tarnave, Alba, Sebes-Apold, Aiud and Lechinta owe their success to the environment and especially to the hard human effort geared towards improving certain environmental factors, which are less suitable for wine growing.
This region produces mainly white wines, including internationally acknowledged fine wines such as Feteasca Alba, Feteasca Regala, Riesling Italian, Neuburger, Pinot Gris, Muscat Ottonel, Traminer, and others. Apart from these, one should not overlook the sparkling wines of Jidvei or Alba or the pellicular wine made at Ciumbrud.
The Tarnave Vineyard
Wine growing and winemaking represent two activities that have been carried out in the Tarnave Vineyard for a very long time. Archaeologists have unearthed tools and recipients dating back to the Iron Age used for these purposes. The Greek historian Herodotus (484-425 BC) recorded that the Agathyrsi (people of Scythian origin assimilated by Thracians) possessed famous vineyards on the Mures and Tarnave valleys. Later on, the Roman colonists brought with them both knowledge and new varieties of vine, thus stimulating the development of this activity.
Sigismund Kabal, a well-known Hungarian historian, states that when the Magyars and other migratory peoples reached this region, wine growing was already a flourishing activity. Moreover, the German Ferdinand Pax points out the fact that "when the Magyars settled in this area, there were already numerous vineyards here."
In the 15th century Evangelical Church of B?gaciu--a village in the Mures County--the frieze of the capitals is decorated with sculptures presenting grapes, thus proving that "over here, in Bagaciu, wine-growing dates back to the first settlements and, according to an old saying, nobody without land, cows and a vine plantation on the top of the hill can be considered a true hard-working farmer."
In Cetatea de Balta, near Blaj, there is a castle built in the 13th century in the architectural style of the French Renaissance. The Romanian historian Nicolae Iorga refers to this castle stating that "it was offered as a gift to the Moldavian ruler Stefan cel Mare (Stephen the Great) by Matei Corvin in 1489 because, without such a sacrifice, they could not have become friends." Nowadays this is the very place where the well-known sparkling wine of Jidvei is made.
The German population that settled in this area contributed significantly to the improvement of wine-growing techniques, as well as to the quality of wine in general. Moreover, the vine, which grew to be more and more appreciated and loved in the area, became over time a frequent decorative motif that has embellished churches, icons and religious objects. A church in Cisnadie still treasures one such chalice made by Iohann Cristoph Schwarts (1667-1705), a reputed craftsman from Sibiu.
A number of old documents tell of the difficulties that the local wine-makers had to face--frost and hail--, of their success in improving the soil of their vineyards, the quality of their wines, as well as the international appraisal they gained at various competitions or exhibitions. Thus, in 1911, in Blaj, on the occasion of celebrating 50 years since the setting up of Astra (The Transylvanian Association for Romanian Literature and Culture), the famous Romanian playwright Ion Luca Caragiale was praising "the Jidvei wine and Aurel Vlaicu's daring flight."
This vineyard that spreads out between the Tarnava Mica and the Tarnava Mare is undoubtedly famous for the impressive quantity of outstanding fine wines that are made here every year.
Geographical setting and winegrowing centres
This old and renowned vineyard is the largest among all the other vineyards that can be found on the large Transylvanian Plateau. It coincides with one of the plateau's subdivisions, the Tarnave Plateau, crossed by two rivers, the Tarnava Mica? and the Tarnava Mare, whose branches divide the plateau into secondary hills with various sun exposures, slopes and good environmental conditions. The vineyard spreads between 45[degrees]57' and 46[degrees]32' northern latitude and 23[degrees]52' and 24[degrees]48' eastern longitude, which represent the geographical centre of Romania, a region extremely suitable for development thanks to its environmental diversity and numerous communication means.
The main wine-growing centres within this vineyard can be found at Blaj (with wine-growing subdivisions at Craciunelu, Burcedea, Blaj, Sancel, Manarade, Valea Lunga, Cergau, Cenade, Ohaba and Rosia); Jidvei (Sona, Jidvei, Cetatea de Balta, Balcaciu); Zagar (Deaj, Mica, Bahnea, Idrifaia, Suplac, Laslau Mare, Coroisanmartin, Agristeu, Balauseri, Seleus, Ormenis, Gogan, Santioana, Viisoara, Zagar, Senereus, Filitelnic, Tagmandru, Magherus, Nades and others); Medias (Micasasa, Copsa Mica, Tarnava, Medias, Brateiu, Darlos, Alma, Saros, Dumbraveni, Hoghilag, Laslea, Danes, Sorostin, Seica Mica, Seica Mare, Loamnes, Agarbiciu, Axente Sever, Valea Viilor, Ighisu Nou, Motis, Mihaileni, Mosna, Nemsa, Alma Vii, Atel, Dupus, Biertan, Richis, Bazna, Blajel, Paucea, Dealu Viilor and others); Valea Nirajului (Miercurea Nirajului, Galesti, Magherani).
Although not all the environmental factors are suitable for winegrowing, their combination and complementarity create a whole which has undeniable beneficial effects on this activity and which explains why wine-making has turned here into a tradition and why the "Tarnave" denomination is so widely appreciated.
It is formed of a combination of marl and Pliocene sands (Pannonian) that covers argillaceous marl and Sarmatic sands containing sandstone, micro-conglomerates and volcanic tufa, which can be rarely seen on the slopes. On top of these two marine sediments Sarmato-Pliocene--there are numerous areas of Quaternary continental deposits, sedimentary on the slopes and alluvial on the riverbanks and valleys. What is significant is that a predominant argilsand texture is generated, which proves to be beneficial for the soils on which vines grow.
The relief is mainly hilly, the slopes oriented from ENE to WSW. Moreover, the specific morpho-hydrographic reticular-dendritic structure of the hills offers the advantage of multiple sun exposures that bring about different temperatures, together with other environmental factors, for numerous varieties of vine.
The average altitude--ranging primarily between 300 m and 500 m--the energy of the plants--frequently between 5[degrees] and 15[degrees]--, together with the friable substratum which is exposed to erosion, and the anthropic removal of the protective layer, have allowed for active denudating processes (erosion and landslides). Nevertheless, adequate steps have been taken to prevent or limit the damage brought about by such processes.
Two rivers, the Tarnava Mica? and the Tarnava Mare, drain the area and, together with phreatic waters, represent valuable sources both from a quantitative and a qualitative point of view--for irrigation and for the phenological phases of the vine.
The climate is temperate moderate-continental, characterised by temperatures suitable for vine growing: the annual average temperature varies between 8.2 and 9[degrees]C. The average annual-monthly temperature is moderate--between -4[degrees]C and -5[degrees]C in January and +18[degrees]C and +19[degrees]C in July--but the interval between the minimum and maximum temperatures recorded during several years can reach 70[degrees]C. Another aspect is that there are around 120 frosty days a year on average and that temperature as low as -18[degrees]C and -20[degrees]C, which occur rather frequently, make the protection of vines during winter a must. On the other hand, the annual global solar radiation value, estimated at 110-125 kcal/[cm.sup.2], the sun exposure of approximately 2,000 h, and between 3,300[degrees]C and 3,400[degrees]C representing the total of annual temperatures above 0[degrees]C--which include between 3,000[degrees]C and 3,100[degrees]C as the total of annual temperatures above 5[degrees]C--prove to be beneficial for the complete vine-growing process.
The average rainfall is of between 600 and 700 mm/year, reaching a maximum between May and July and having a prolonged minimum in autumn--which is suitable for ripening and the accumulation of sugars and flavours. One should also note that the amount of potential vapour-perspiration, 600-650 mm/year, almost equals that of annual rainfall--which leads to the soil maintaining an optimum level of humidity even during the summer and autumn--and which prevents edaphic droughts, thus limiting the need for irrigation.
The wind blows mainly from W and NW; during the winter; it also blows from N and NE. The foehn winds coming from the Western Carpathians and reaching the large valleys found in the Tarnave region also have a significant contribution in terms of temperature.
The spontaneous vegetation is generally specific for deciduous tree forests, namely the common oak (Quercus petraea) level. However, forests cover only the peaks and shadowy high slopes of the hills. The vegetation which can be found throughout the rest of the region is specific for cereal crops, vine plantations, orchards, mesophyllum (Agrostis tenuis) meadows to the east of the region and xermesophyllum (Festuca valesiaca) meadows to the west.
The soil is characterised by medium texture, low-moderate acidity, satisfactory content of humic substances, bases and other nourishing components. From a typological perspective, it can be classified into brown eumesobasic soils, brown illuvial argillaceous soils (partially pseudogleyic), as well as pseudorendsina on more argillaceous marl, all of them very suitable for the vine, except for those whose hydro-physical features are neither favourable for vine growing, nor artificially improved for this purpose.
Apart from these soils, more or less evenly distributed, which can be found on quasi-horizontal surfaces that have specific features, or on gentle slopes in various stages of erosion, another common type of soil is represented by regosols and erodisols that can be found on the steep slopes exposed to a phenomenon of accelerated erosion caused by their being used for field crops. Although less fertile, these soils are still suitable for wine growing, especially when earthwork is performed on them and fertilisers are used. Such examples can be found in Blaj, Jidvei and Medias. Moreover, the alluvial soils of meadows not easily flooded can also be used for wine-growing, but generally they are not because of damaging phenomena related to the water supply and the weather--frost, hoarfrost and fog--combined with cryptogamic diseases.
The Tarnave vineyard is especially famous for its fine white wines which are highly appreciated both in Romania and abroad. In that respect, it is worth pointing out that lately there has hardly been any international contest where the quality of the Tarnave wines was not publicly appreciated.
Traminer roz (Pink Traminer) is a wine which is produced in a wide range of varieties, from sweet to dry. Its colour varies between yellow with greenish tints to yellow with golden tints and, after several years of aging, changes into yellow with amber tints. Its pronounced creamy aroma reminds of rose jam and entice you to take a first delightful sip. The slightly spicy taste of this rich, oily wine and the velvet-like mouthfeel will surely please even the most demanding connoisseurs. Through aging, it evolves into a full-bodied wine characterised by a slightly tart, crisp and clean hazelnut flavour that lingers on at the back of the mouth. The locals usually say that this wine is "an elixir for old age, fortifying the body and making life more beautiful."
Feteasca Regala is a dry white wine produced in the largest quantity in the Tarnave region, being highly appreciated for its crisp, fresh and fruity features. It has a less pronounced scent, but a unique flavour and stands out because of its overall balance. Moreover, its slightly higher level of acidity gives it a touch of liveliness much appreciated by the connoisseurs. The skilful oenologists make this wine compete with the Jidvei wines as it becomes completely clear and stable at the time of bottling, a feature which has attracted the appreciation of world-wide specialists.
Feteasca Alba is a fine white wine, renowned for its authenticity. It has pleasant, distinct and soft notes of flowers, which complete its subtle and inviting flavour. It is made as dry, medium-dry, and medium-sweet and it does not fall short of a feast for the senses. Its crispness and fruitiness, added to its silky, creamy texture, explain why this wine is considered to be truly representative for this vineyard.
Pinot Gris appears as having a pale yellow colour or yellow with golden tints. It ranges from dry to medium-dry and medium-sweet. Its stands out because of its subtle aroma and gentle tart-sweet, slightly spicy flavour reminding of rum chocolate. Its features are not exactly the same as those of the other wines made here. If kept to relax in bottles for 1 or 2 years and it will only improve, softening in the mouth and refining the flavours, truly becoming the "wine of high hopes," as some call it.
Riesling Italian (Italian Riesling) is a white wine, with subtle notes mirroring the features of the vineyard and the vine-growing area on which it is made. Connoisseurs appreciate and describe it as a tart/sweet wine, mostly dry that stands out as crisp, fruity and perfumed, with hints of exotic fruit followed by a long finish reminiscent of almond. It is a lovely taste experience.
Sauvignon, a dry, medium-dry or medium-sweet wine has always been one of the best and most famous representatives of the finest wines made in the Tarnave vineyard.
When young, it has a smoky flavour, later, after about one year of aging, to gain a lovely bouquet. It is a pleasant, lively, harmonious, fruity and crisp wine with great depth. After several years of aging in barrels or bottles--especially when its acidity is moderate, the flavour of the Sauvignon reminds you of melon.
Neuburger is a dry, medium-dry, and sometimes even medium-sweet white wine, which makes an original contribution to the wide range of wines made in this region. It is mainly treasured for its richness in alcohol, acidity and full body, as well as for its other more subtle features. Its flavour with discreet notes of ripe apples that it gains over time increases its quality and makes it more inviting. It is such a rich wine in both flavour and alcohol that Nicolae Paveleanu, the famous oenologist from Jidvei, was right in calling it "the stallion of the cellars of Tarnave."
Iordana is an extremely attractive wine through its organoleptic features and, in terms of quality, can be classified as a table wine. Its colour is yellow with greenish tints or very rarely pale yellow, and it does not change significantly over time. One notes in this wine a scent of berries along with a whiff of wild flowers. These fresh, unpolished aromas create a harmony enhancing the softness and the delicacy of the Iordana, whose persistent long finish makes a good choice when making sparkling wines.
Mustoasa de Maderat is a rare wine, despite it's being of relatively high quality. It is difficult to explain why this variety is neglected by vine-growers. It is appreciated mainly because of its moderate alcohol content, slight acidity and delicate taste. It can be used alone or in combination with Iordana or other wines (Feteasca Regala, Pinot Gris, and others), for making sparkling wines.
Silvaner is a yellow-greenish wine with glittering tints and sometimes even a pale yellow appearance. It is a quality and well-balanced wine, rich in flavour and scent, with crisp, full flavours that remind of wild apples. Moreover, it is appreciated for its uniqueness deriving from the specificity of the natural environment of this region.
Aligote is a yellow-greenish wine that immediately catches and pleases the eye. It is extremely well balanced for a table wine and its aroma and flavour are yielded more by the soil rather than by the grapes.
Chardonnay is a complex white wine with subtle aroma and flavour close to that of fresh hay. This is a full, silky, creamy and wonderfully elegant wine for those who choose to like a touch of sweetness.
Furmint is a wine whose colour ranges from greenish-yellow to pale yellow and yellow with golden tints. It is dynamic, though it does not lack the fineness of a truly high-quality wine. Whether technologically mixed or simply blended with Feteasca Alba, its main features are enriched even if they become slightly different from those of the original wine.
Muscat Ottonel is a pale to golden yellow wine, generally dry or medium-dry, but in extremely favourable years it is also made as medium-sweet and even sweet. It has the aroma and flavour of ripe grapes combined with hints of meadow sage or citrus flowers. Sometimes its aroma is so strong that the Muscat Ottonel is playfully called by the locals "massage lotion." It has a pleasant, creamy fruit nectar touch combined with sage leaves. The Muscat Ottonel of Jidvei, Alba and Medias has gained great appreciation both in Romania and abroad.
Perla Transilvaniei (Pearl of Transylvania), also known as Perla Tarnavelor, is an assemblage of equal quantities of Feteasca Alba and Furmint. It has been produced for a very long time and at present is just as appreciated as before, being one of the best representatives of the Transylvanian vineyards in general and of the Tarnavelor vineyard in particular. Perla Transilvaniei is a crisp, fruity and perfectly balanced wine that goes beyond the limits of the region to represent the high quality of wines throughout Romania.
The Tarnave vineyard is one of the very best in Romania, a fact that has also been internationally acknowledged. Several factors have contributed to this, among which the most important are the professionalism of the local winemakers and the support given by specialists from the Blaj Research Centre. Perhaps the most eloquent example is offered by the professionals from Jidvei, whose efforts turned the name "Jidvei" printed on any labels into a "quality certificate." The wines made in this region combine the original notes yielded by the soil and by the grape variety with the skill of the specialists working here. The perfect encounter between art and technology has lead to worldwide acknowledgement of the quality of these wines. One of the most fascinating wine collections in Romania can be found at Balcaciu, Jidvei, where thousands of bottles, covered by fine dust, spider nets or by the black velvet of Racodium cellare, witness of the uniqueness of these wines. Moreover, should one be looking for exquisite sparkling wines, visiting Cetatea de Balta--will certainly satisfy even the most demanding connoisseurs.
The Alba Vineyard
"The Alba-Iulia Vineyard dates back too far long for its beginnings to be known." Lots of Roman relics are decorated with vine, vine-leaves and grapes. "A polished board dating from the middle of the 2nd century, accounts for a feast, including the list of costs for the wine drunk on that occasion." Moreover, among the reasons which determined the Magyars to invade Transylvania, there was also one connected with the prosperous stage at which vine-growing and winemaking were at the time. The Saxons brought by King Gaza II (11411161) to Transylvania and who sat camp mainly in the villages of Ighiu and Cricau were exempt "from paying taxes on the vines they would plant." Later on, King Andrew II (1205-1235) "exempted the Transylvanian Saxons for paying custom taxes on their wine."
The territory belonging nowadays to the Alba, Mures and Sibiu counties was called "Land of Wine" on a map drawn by Ioan Sambucus in 1566.
According to Indita Secula-Truta, "the ruler Mihai Viteazul used to have a hunting chalet at the top of Craivei Mount, where he would frequently go in the summer of 1600, while he stayed at Magna Curia (the Great Court), near the Cricau vineyard."
A list which also contained, among other things, two wines, Merum and Vinum, was found in the Rosia Montana village.
Furthermore, Aurel Dad from Ighiu mentions that "in order to enjoy more the grapes from his vineyard in Telna, some Hungarian Baron would have them brought to him by a Romanian serf on his back all the way from Telna to Cluj." Consequently, Martin Opitz (1597-1639), a teacher at Alba Iulia High School, the father of modern German poetry, was revolted by the humiliation which the Romanians suffered and wrote poems in which he spoke of the hardship with which the Romanians were faced, as well as of the wonderful vineyards from Alba and their wines. "Sardul, with its famous wine, is not far away / A wine of stronger beliefs and will I have never drunk/I wish all poets would know it. / Even when it was a cluster of grapes it was destined to poetry / I invite you to drink this saintly ambrosial liquor / That is drunk by Romanians only on holidays."
References to the vine plantations and wines made in this region have become more and more numerous after the latter half of the 19th century. In this respect, it is worth mentioning the establishment of ampelographic collections in Miraslau in 1840 and Alba Iulia in 1860.
The wines made in the Alba vineyard have always been highly praised. Thus, an Italian Riesling made in Uioara (Ocna Mures) in 1868 was compared with other Rieslings made in Johannisberg and Rudesheim on Rhine. This fact, together with other appreciations from various public figures of the time, determined Athanasie Bulencea to state that "Alba is the Land of Riesling for Transylvania."
The success that the wines from Alba have enjoyed abroad, too, is proven by the fact that, at a feast organised for the members of the Paris Gastronomic Association on the occasion of the 1937 International Exhibition, the partakers enjoyed Feteasca Alba of Alba, from the 1932 vintage, which was considered to be the "finest, with a full bouquet and unmatched by any other wines present in the contest." In 1939, at the International Exhibition in New York, the high quality of the wines from Alba increased significantly the prestige of Romanian wines.
Geographical setting and vine-growing centres
The Alba vineyard is the original nucleus of the "Land of Wine," despite the fact that, later on, this name came to refer to the neighbouring vineyards of Aiud, Sebes and Tarnave, too. Its vine plantations spread over the slopes and banks along the Mures within the limits of the hinterland of Alba Iulia, situated in the western part of the Transylvanian Plateau, between 46[degrees]00' and 46[degrees]14' northern latitude and along the 23[degrees]35' eastern longitude meridian, which constitutes an excellent setting from an economic and social point of view. Its vine plantations are grouped into two wine-growing centres: Alba Iulia--including the following wine-growing subdivisions: Santimbru, Barabant, Alba Iulia, Paclisa, Cistei, Mihalt, Nemis, Seuhsa, Vintu de Jos--and Ighiu, with the subdivisions of Sard, Telna, Bucerdea Vinoasa, Cricau, Craiva, Tibru, Galda de Jos, Benic, Cetea and Stremt.
The environment that can be found here stimulates the perfect development, ripening and maturation of grapes. In fact, one can state that it is the most suitable environment throughout the entire Transylvanian Plateau. This explains both the extremely long tradition of vine-growing in this part of Romania and the excellent quality of the wines made here.
The relief is made up of high hills to the west (between 500 and 600 m) and low hills to the east (300-400 m), affected by pedogeomorphological processes (erosion, ravines and landslides), separated by the Mures Couloir which consists of a series of river banks and a large 2-4 km flood plain. The water coming from the river Mures and its tributaries, together with underground waters which go through the superficial geological sediments, proves to be in sufficient quantity and of acceptable quality both for frequent consumption, industry and agriculture.
The climate is of the moderate-continental type, characterised by relatively hot summers and relatively cold winters, and is improved by the foehn which may blow during early springs and late autumns, contributing to the clearing of the sky, and increasing, consequently, the exposure of the vines to the sun.
The annual average temperature varies between 9[degrees] and 9.5[degrees]C; the range of temperature of end-scale months (January and July) is of 23[degrees]C--between -3[degrees]C and +20[degrees]C. On the other hand, it is worth noticing that the interval between the minimum and maximum temperatures recorded during several years can reach approximately 70[degrees]C. The explanation for this lies in the influence of extremely cold Arctic-Scandinavian winds during the winter and of hot Tropical-Mediterranean winds in summer. Moreover, the high helio-thermal potential has a major positive impact on the wine-growing activity, being estimated in terms of an average global solar radiation of 110125 kcal/[cm.sup.2], sun exposure (2,100 h) and a total of positive temperature values of 3,600[degrees]C, all of them being beneficial for the maturation and even over-maturation of grapes.
The average rainfall is of approximately 550 mm/year, with a maximum recorded between May and July, followed by very low quantities between August and October that are favourable for the maturation of grapes. Since the annual potential evapo-perpiration is of 650 mm, there is an average humidity deficit of over 100 mm/year, which increases up to 200-300 mm/year in August and September, when irrigations are needed.
The winds come mainly from southwest, northwest and west. Very significant in this respect proves to be the foehn (blowing from W to E), which is present in this region throughout the year and mainly in spring and autumn.
Overall, the Alba Vineyard is sheltered, a fact proven by the high values of airlessness, which reach and exceed 50% every year.
The vegetation of the hills is generally specific for deciduous tree forests, the common oak, hornbeam and oak level--forests which have been mainly cut down in order to grow various crops or turn them into meadows. On the other hand, the back of the Mures Couloir is covered by silvosteppe meadows (Festuca-Andropogon), which are currently replaced by various crops.
The soil of the hills west and east of the banks in the Mures Couloir are mainly brown eumesobasic soils and brown illuvial argillaceous soils, which can be found in standard formats on the wide flat peaks and in various stages of erosion on the slopes, where they are frequently combined with regosols and even erodisols, often anthropically modified by means of earthwork and fertilisation. The soils of the river banks in the couloir are advanced chernozems cambic and clay-illuvial--, while the soils of the Mures meadow and of the major branches around the vineyard are alluvial soils, often flooded, or phreatic-gleyic ones, which are not suitable for winegrowing. Only those soils which are very rarely flooded, or in whose case the underground waters are below critical depths, can be used for the above-mentioned purpose.
Although there is a reduced number of varieties of vine grown in this vineyard, the range of wines produced is wide, starting with table wines and going up to the finest dry, medium-dry, medium-sweet or even sweet ones.
Feteasca alba is a wine whose colour is yellow with greenish tints at first which, after several years of aging, changes into yellow with golden tints. Its flavour is as vivid as its aroma, reminding of vine flowers. Its unique and extremely well-balanced structure are only two of the reasons why this wine has always been deemed to be one of Romania's finest. Its acidity refreshes the palate with a fresh, crisp note. The perfect combination of extract and glycerol turns it into a full-bodied, smooth wine that significantly increase its quality. The young and fresh wine has depth and integrity, with a great aging potential provided it is kept in oak barrels. Several years of maturation will make it even smoother and more polished and will add a lingering finish to it.
Feteasca Regala is a yellow wine with greenish tints which, after 1-2 years of aging, becomes pale yellow. It has a relatively strong aroma, specific for this variety, which makes it even more attractive. Feteasca Regala inherits the uniqueness of this vineyard and stands out because of richness, elegance, harmony and perfect balance. It can be enjoyed on its own or blended with other wines, to which it lends a fresh, crisp note given by its high acidity.
Pinot Gris is a wine whose colour varies between white with greenish tints and yellow with golden tints, depending on the time it has had to mature. It is a unique wormwood wine, a true representative of the Alba vineyard, whose specific aroma and flavours become evident with each mouthfilling sip. Regardless of whether it is produced as a dry, medium-dry or medium-sweet wine, Pinot Gris has great aging potential, gaining a strong, distinct bouquet with unmistakeable traces of acacia flowers after several years of maturation. Nothing can be added to its perfect flavour, which finishes with pleasant, gentle, slightly tart notes. These organoleptic features, combined with a balanced structure, are the main reasons for which this wine has always been highly appreciated both in Romania and abroad.
Muscat Ottonel is a deep yellow wine, gaining golden tints with aging, which immediately catches the eye. It owes its specific Muscat fragrance to the aroma of the grapes. It is a fine representative of perfumed wines, being characterised by a unique and generous bouquet and flavour that are even more inviting when it also contains sugar. This full-bodied, harmonious, well-balanced and smooth wine is an absolute masterpiece having that "special something" that distinguishes it from the other white wines. It combines in a divine way the qualities inherent to the grape with those of the vineyard. Prasnea, in his book Tara vinului (Land of Wine), considers that the Muscat Ottonel has reached "the highest levels of perfection in terms of balancing acidity, alcohol, sweetness and aroma."
Traminer Roz (Pink Traminer) is a white wine with yellow-greenish tints when young which, in time, gains yellow-amber hues. Its pleasant aroma and full-body place it on a par with any other fine wine. Moreover, its finesse and elegance make it one of the best wines made in Alba, significantly contributing to the ever-growing international appreciation of this vineyard. Its almost perfect balance has been noticed by both connoisseurs and consumers and thus, the Traminer Roz has a national and international reputation only matched by its quality.
Neuburger is a white wine that occupies an important place in the hierarchy of fine wines made here. It has delightful aroma and flavour specific to the grape variety, but it has to be said that the one feature that stands out above all the others is its fruity, clear and imposing flavour. In time, the Neuburger becomes supple, with a velvety texture and a strong bouquet combining the qualities inherent to the grape with those yielded by the soil. It is a truly lovely tasting experience, as one is immediately able to identify its ampelographic and geographic origin, that perfect combination of grape type and soil.
Ciumbrud is a pellicular wine, also known as Plebano?, made following an original oxidising technique, employing locally selected and produced yeasts. It is usually a marriage of Pinot Gris, Furmint, Grasa and Muscat Ottonel, ranging from pale to golden yellow that often displays a subtle perfume of freshly cut apples. Through aging, it acquires an original, delicate and slightly spicy bouquet. Ciumbrud is a generous, slightly almond-like wine that gains softness, as well as a particularly pleasant note when aging in barrels. From all the white wines produced in Alba, it seems that the Pinot Gris represents the best component of this pellicular wine.
Sparkling wine of Alba has been made since 1969, being mainly a blend between Pinot Gris and Feteasca Regala. It is being made in the cellars of the Medieval Fortress of Alba-Iulia.
Talking about the beauties of the Alba vineyard, Gheorghe Ionescu Sisesti pointed out in 1946 that it is "picturesque and attractive, and that the Romanians have always found here a suitable environment."
The Sebes-Apold Vineyard
Wine-growing and making in this region may be traced back to immemorial times. Numerous decorations presenting vine, vine-leaves and grapes have been noticed on fragments of pottery unearthed in various parts of the vineyard. The very same kind of decorations can be seen on tombstones inside churches or on different wooden pillars, too.
The settling of Saxons in this region led to an increase in the wine-growing and making and to the diversification of the grape varieties by also growing the ones brought from Germany.
The archives contain documents proving that this activity has been increasingly profitable in the case of the Sebes-Apold vineyard, enabling the producers to get more and more involved in the proper running of the cities and villages around. Thus, in 1755, the winemakers of the Daia village, Rosia commune would contribute to the communal fund with 449 10-liter wine barrels. In 1788, the records show a contribution of 2,340 barrels from the inhabitants of the Calnic village, while the Deal village brought 40 barrels to the communal fund. Moreover, records dating from 1818 prove that the Acilin village contributed with 11,106 wine barrels to the Silistea communal fund, the Tilisca village with 206, Apoldul de Sus--12,960 and Miercurea Sibiului--10,206.
One can also find extremely interesting the sale contracts involving vineyards and wines and the fact that, on February 12, 1891, the vine owners around Sibiu got together and formed a Winegrowers' Association. On the same occasion a draft of the statutes of this association was drawn. Moreover, one should not overlook the initiative of the old "Wine-Growing and Making School" of Sibiu which, in 1919, issued several recommendations regarding the proper taking care of vine plantations and wines for the wine-producing villages and communes. In his autobiographical masterpiece Hronicul si cantecul varstelor (Ages' Chronicle and Song), the great Romanian poet and philosopher Lucian Blaga confessed: "Mother also told us that in the spring of 1908 Father had caught a cold a few weeks before while bringing American vines from a village 30 km away from ours. Father insisted upon replanting his vine plantation on the slope of the hill, that had been attacked by phylloxera during the last years."
Geographical setting and vine-growing centres
This vineyard is situated on the hills along the sheltered Sebes and Apold depressions in the southern Central Romanian Plateau. It stretches approximately along the 45[degrees]55' northern latitude parallel. The two settlements that lend their names to the vineyard are also wine-growing centres: the city of Sebes (with the wine-growing subdivisions from Garbova, Calnic, Sasciori, Pianu, Salistea and Sibot) and the commune of Apoldu de Jos, with the following subdivisions: Apoldu de Jos, Saliste, Miercurea Sibiului, Ludos, Gusu and Pauca.
The lithologic substratum is mainly made up of Neogene marine sediments (marl, argil, gravel, grit stone, and limestone) and, in various places, of continental Quaternary deposits generated by their sedimentary or fluvial reshufflings. The result is a valuable granulometric and geo-chemical substratum.
The relief is made up of a series of piedmont hills--found at the foot of the Southern Carpathians (Mounts Surianu and Cindrelu) which range from 500-600 m in altitude on the sides to 200-300 m absolute altitude towards the centre of the depressions. Moreover, one can also identify in this region a series of hills (of 300-500 m in altitude) resulting from the fragmentation of the south-western part of the Transylvanian Plateau--the Secaselor Plateau. The slopes, of between 5[degrees] and 15[degrees], which cut through less solid detritic sediments generate active denudation phenomena, such as superficial erosion, torrential ravine formation and land-slides. In order to counterbalance their negative effects, the locals need to perform earthwork and other anti-erosive actions since the large majority of vine plantations are situated on such slopes because of economic reasons. Other suitable places for wine-growing are represented by sections of the embankments of the two rivers, the Sebes and the Apold, which have carved their ways through the depressions and piedmont glacis found at the foot of the hill slopes. Nevertheless, these areas are also suitable for other crops, and are partially used accordingly. As far as the hydric aspects are concerned, one should point out that the high quality of both surface and underground waters qualifies them for all kinds of usages, including wine-growing.
The climate is temperate, moderate-continental, with certain extreme notes in the valleys. Overall, it can be stated that it has a vital contribution to the proper development of the vines and that it also influences to a great extent the quality of the wines made here.
The average annual temperature ranges between 9.2[degrees]C and 9.5[degrees]C (9.3[degrees]C in Sebes). Moreover, the average monthly temperatures of between -3.3[degrees]C (in January) and +20.8[degrees]C (in July), as well as the interval between the minimum and maximum temperatures recorded during several years, of over 70[degrees]C, indicate limit thermal moderation. The main risk factor is represented by the winter frost, which can last for over 100 days/year, and especially by the temperatures below 20[degrees]C, which the vines cannot bear, even if this risk occurs on average every three years. The main positive feature connected with this region is connected with the sun radiation, estimated at 120-130 kcal/[cm.sup.2], sun exposure of over 2,000 h and a total of positive temperature values of over 3,600[degrees]C.
The average rain-fall is of approximately 600 mm/year, being slightly under the average potential evapo-perpiration (650 mm), which does not exclude the beneficial effect of irrigations during periods of extended drought.
The vegetation--between 80 and 90% of which is today largely replaced by field crops and orchards--is specific for the oak and common oak levels, with secondary steppe meadowlands.
The zonal soils correspond to the phytoclimatic forest zone on the top of the hills--brown and brown illuvial soils--, and to the silvosteppe zone in the valleys--cambic chernozem and clay-illuvial soils. Their majority represents an adequate edaphic substratum for wine-growing due to its medium texture, humus content (2.5-4.5%), low acid-neutral reaction (pH=6.3-6.9), high saturation of bases (V=70-85%) and nourishing elements (N.P.K.). Intra-zonal soils occupy a significant portion of the vineyard soil (>30%), the former being represented by regosols and erodisols on the more eroded slopes, and azonal, alluvial and/or hydromorphic soils on the valley meadows. These are characterised by a restrictive topoclimatic regime, while the regosols and erodisols on the slopes, combined with brown soils in a low or moderate state of erosion, are especially used for vine and/or fruit-growing. Their low fertility and erosion potential are compensated for by anti-erosion measures, among which earthwork--combined with fertilisation--proves to be most efficient.
The Sebes-Apold vineyard is included in the territory of the "Land of Wine" and is famous for the fine white wines which have contributed to the growing renown of this region, now one of the most famous Transylvanian vineyards. Its wines reflect very accurately the features of the soil, grape varieties, and professionalism of the local specialists.
Feteasca Regala is made from the grapes of this particular variety and appears as yellow with greenish tints, later on to change into pale yellow or, more rarely, golden patina. Through aging and conditioning, it becomes clear and shiny, a feast for the eye, as well as for the other senses. On the whole, the wines from Sebes and Apold have a moderate content of alcohol and acidity, as well as a distinct aroma. Feteasca Regala is a lovely wine with a gentle ether note in its bouquet, which makes it so attractive and enjoyable.
Feteasca Alba is a pale yellow wine with green tones which become pale yellow and even golden yellow through aging and maturation. Scents of flowers and honeysuckle complement the features of this superb fine wine. It is perfectly balanced as far as its sweetness, alcohol and acidity are concerned. It is this harmony that gives it its uniqueness. Its velvety and creamy texture make it a true representative of its grape variety and of the vineyard.
Iordana is a popular wine in the Sebes-Apold vineyard, as well as in other vineyards, and represents a top quality component of blended sparkling wines. The fragrance and aroma of the young wine are easily identifiable and witness for the local features of the grape and the specificity of the vineyard. Being characterised by an average level of alcohol, but a high level of acidity, this wine preserves its yellow-greenish colour for a long time and impresses the connoisseur through its rich, rounded texture combined with a flinty crispness. Without claiming a place among fine white wines, Iordana is a lovely tasting experience for those who choose to like young, fruity wines.
Pinot Gris is the wine obtained from the homonymous grape variety, to which, some times, grapes of Pinot Blanc are added, since the majority of wine-growing areas may contain up to 15% random vines of this latter variety. The wine-making process results in the production of a yellow-greenish wine which, through aging, turns pale yellow or even golden yellow. The fragrance and aroma of the young wine are extremely pleasant, unveiling traces of acacia. It is well-balanced in terms of acidity, alcohol content and extract, and it has a unique flavour which makes it stand out even more. Produced as a dry wine--in which case it can be very well blended into sparkling wines but more often as medium-dry or medium-sweet, Pinot Gris has all the qualities of a truly fine wine.
Riesling Italian (Italian Riesling) preserves its yellow-greenish colour for a long time following a reductive wine-making technology, a must in the case of this grape variety. Although it is a neutral wine, its aroma helps it give a distinct note to this variety. Its harmonious and balanced nature allows the connoisseur to identify a certain fruitiness and crispness that make it stand out from the other wines. Its flavour tilting towards the acid side is just one of the qualities of this attractive and unique wine. Riesling Italian is made in a wide range of varieties, from dry to medium-sweet and even sweet, the dry variety being the most popular.
Traminer Roz (Pink Traminer) has a persistent yellow-greenish colour which can gain golden tints, or even pink and pale golden ones only if the skins of the grapes are left to macerate. Its pleasant fragrance combines with its unique aroma reminding of the grape it originates from, with a subtle scent of ripe banana. Traminer Roz is a well-balanced wine, with a relatively high level of alcohol, that stands out because of its full-body and buttery tones, that attracts the attention of those who choose to like complex and deep wines. Produced in a wide range of varieties, from dry to sweet, it gains a particular bouquet through aging and maturation, without losing too much of its initial fruitiness.
Sauvignon is a yellow-greenish wine which, after an aging interval, gains pale yellow tints with golden hues. It has an inviting aroma reminding of green peppers, a tart/sweet composition on the palate and a pleasant, crisp flavour. When it is still young it has an average level of acidity. Through aging it gains a distinct bouquet and flavour with notes of dry fruit or, some times, of melon, which distinguishes it from other white wines. Its average level of alcohol and high level of glycerol and extract turn the Sauvignon into a wonderfully rich, full and elegant wine.
Neuburger, a yellow-greenish to lime-yellow wine, owes its captivating fragrance and aroma to the grape variety and the vineyard. Moreover, its refreshing acidity and average level of alcohol, as well as its long-lasting fruitiness, draw attention on this well-balanced wine with great aging potential which, in time, also gains an bouquet that defines it even better.
Muscat Ottonel is a pale yellow wine with greenish tints when young and golden ones when old. The perfume and savour of the well-ripe grape, more obvious during the first few years after the harvest date, evolve over time and are eventually overcome by a distinct bouquet. The velvet-like mouthfeel, specific for this wine, comes as a pleasant surprise, especially in the case of the medium-dry and medium-sweet varieties.
As a rule, wine reflects to a great extent the features of the vineyard, the oenological potential of the grape varieties, as well as the professionalism of its makers.
The Aiud Vineyard
Eloquent proofs have been unearthed on the territory of the Aiud Vineyard proving that wine-growing and making, among other agricultural activities, has been popular in this region since time immemorial. The museums in Cluj and Aiud host statues dating back to the Roman period representing men and children holding grapes in their hands. There are also wine-press pedestals made of stone such as the one discovered in Ciumbrud. The decurion of the Roman colony set up in the area which surrounds nowadays the city of Cluj Aurelianus Marcinus--, delighted by the quality of the wine-growing and making products obtained here, brought homage to the God of wine (Liber Pater).
There are numerous written documents--such as sale contracts, wills or donations--confirming the fact that wine has been grown and made in this part of the world for many centuries. The Turkish writer Evlya Celebi, while visiting the region in about 1700, describes the beauties of the vineyard and characterises the wines made here. In his book Viata si sanatatea (Life and Health), doctor Istvan Mathyas recommends the wines of this vineyard as having positive effects for maintaining one's health.
In about 1860, there was in Gambas-Aiud a collection with over 150 vine varieties. In an article Incercari de a compara vinurile din Transilvania cu cele din Renania (Attempts at Comparing the Wines of Transylvania with those of Renania), published in Agricultorul ardelean, (no. 12, 1869) and signed with the initials T.K., the author states that the Riesling made in Ciumbrud, particularly the 1886 vintage, came second to a Riesling made on the Rhine Valley, the 1859 vintage.
In 1874, on the occasion of an exhibition that took place in London, the Ciumbrud Feteasca Alba was judged to be the best Transylvanian wine present.
Furthermore, in 1875, Ferencz Nagy stated that, from the 42 varieties grown in the vineyard, the local ones--Feteasca, Grasa and Furmint--and the foreign ones--Pinot Gris, Traminer and Riesling, the last one being considered "the best in the world"--should not be absent. Ferencz Nagy also believes that, if red wines were preferred, they should be obtained from the Oporto and Pinot Noir grape varieties.
A "Winegrowers' School" was set up in Aiud in 1880. It made a significant contribution to the proper development and especially to the replacing of the vines following the recent phyloxeric disaster. In 1908 and 1912, M. Pop and D. Graur, respectively, made their recommendations concerning the most suitable grape varieties that should be grown in the Aiud vineyard. The school which was set up in 1938 in Ciumbrud and which aimed at training specialists in this field, also contributed significantly to the development of the vineyard by means of the useful additional information related to wine-growing and making which could be acquired there. Moreover, one should not overlook the research performed in this field by the teaching staff of the University of Cluj, as well as the research carried out at the Cluj Research Institute resulting in the creation of numerous varieties of vine unanimously appreciated for their quality.
Geographical setting and vine-growing centres
The Aiud vineyard is situated north of the Alba vineyard and spreads out on the hilly region on both sides of the valley formed by the (middle) Mures and its branch, the (lower) Aries. Being situated in the west of the Transylvanian Plateau, between the 46[degrees]16' and 46[degrees]42' parallels northern latitude, the bio-pedo-climatic environment of this vineyard resembles closely the one of other vineyards, such as Alba, Sebes-Apold and Tarnave, together with which it forms the "Land of Wine."
There are numerous villages subordinated to the three main wine-growing centres--explained by the latter's superior possibility of processing, stocking and distribution of the products: Lunca Mures, Noslac, Uioara, Ocna Mures, Farau, Unirea, Miraslau, Livezile, Aiud, Radesti, Lopadea Noua, Hoparta, Sancrai, Ciumbrud, Bagau, Beta, Ciuguzel and Gambas for the wine-growing centre of Aiud; Campia Turzii, Mihai Viteazu, Turda, Viisoara, Moldovenesti, Tureni, Plocos, Aiton, Copaceni, Sandulesti, Calarasi and Luna for Turda; Tritenii de Jos, Frata, Ceanu Mare and Boldut for Triteni.
It is represented by an ecosystem truly suitable for vine-growing due to the fortunate interaction of the support, lito-morpho-pedologic factors with those of the exterior, bio-climatic environment.
The lithologic substratum is mainly made up of Sarmatic sediments (marl, sands, calcareous gritstone) and Pliocene sediments (sands, argil, gravel) which, through in situ alteration / and deluvial reshuffling on slopes and fluvial reshuffling on banks and meadows, constitute soils suitable for wine-growing.
The relief is mainly made up of a series of hills--whose absolute altitude ranges from 300 to 500/600 m and on whose slopes, of between 3[degrees] and 10[degrees]/15[degrees], are the vines which have been planted sometimes after performing earthwork on some slopes. Furthermore, on the riverbanks, sedimentary glacis and alluvial plains of the middle Mures and the lower Aries?, vine growing is subordinated to cereal crops which are more sensitive concerning the substratum and more useful for the people. The water resources, sufficient and satisfactory from a qualitative point of view, may be added to the other advantages offered by the relief and lithology.
The climate is moderate-continental with Transylvanian particularities--sheltering from the mountains and foehn influence which has a vital contribution to the proper development of the vine plantations. There are, however, exceptions e.g. very hot days throughout the year: +30[degrees]C, as well as very cold ones -10[degrees]C, the latter being harmful for the unprotected vines when the temperature drops below -20[degrees]C.
The average annual temperature varies between 8.5[degrees]C in the north, in Turda, and 9.3[degrees]C in the south, in Aiud. Moreover, the average monthly temperatures are of approximately +24[degrees]C in July and the interval between the minimum and maximum temperatures recorded during several years is of approximately 70[degrees]C (in Aiud from -32.1[degrees]C to +37.5[degrees]C and in Turda from -31.6[degrees]C to +38.5[degrees]C). The annual caloric resources, represented by the average annual values of sun radiation, estimated at 120 kcal/[cm.sup.2], sun exposure of over 2,000 h and a total of positive temperature values of over 3,600[degrees]C in Aiud and 3,400[degrees]C in Turda are considered sufficient for the complete ripening of the grapes.
The average rainfall has moderate annual values, between 550 and 600 mm, reaching maximum values between May and July, and being slightly under the average potential evapo-perspiration (620-650 mm). On the other hand, however, despite the apparent balance in this respect, minimum values are reached throughout July, August and September, when irrigations may come into play in order to supply the necessary quantities of water.
The winds come mainly from the west (W, SW and NW), followed by those blowing from NE. However, when it comes to the valleys, it must be pointed out that the winds blow along them. There is also the obvious influence of the foehn, which can be especially felt in the case of the adiabatic descent of Atlantic air masses on the eastern slopes of the Western Carpathians.
The local vegetation still bears traces and phytoindices proving that it is specific for deciduous tree forests, the common oak (Quercus petraea) and oak (Quercus robur) level-interrupted along the valleys by various silvosteppe xermesophyllum arborescent elements (Quercus cerris, Q. farnetto, Q. pubescens), and also by herbaceous elements, such as Festuca valesiaca, Andropogon ischaemum, Agrostis Tenuis and others.
The zonal soils, which dominate the forest hill level, are brown and brown luvic soils (podzolic, locally pseudogleyised), whereas the silvosteppe level found in the valleys is dominated by chernozems, cambic and clay-illuvial. Both categories, except the highly pseudogleyised and pseudogleyic soils, have physical, chemical and biological features suitable for wine-growing. Alongside these zonal soils there is also a significant percentage of intrazonal soils on the slopes (15-20%), which have not evolved to a great extent because of severe erosion--regosols--or because of the speeding up of the process of erosion by planting unsuitable crops on such soils erodisols. The latter ones can be usually found in combination with low to moderately eroded zonal soils. Being poor as far as the nourishing elements are concerned, and permanently exposed to erosion, these soils are mainly used for vine and fruit-growing, which prove to be extremely efficient activities, especially where antierosion earthworks have been performed and the soils have been biochemically fertilised. The alluvial soils of plains and meadows, even the non-hydromorphic ones which may be suitable for wine-growing, are not recommended for this purpose because of topoclimatic reasons, frost, hoarfrost and fog.
The wines made in the Aiud vineyard generally have the same features as the wines produced in the other Transylvanian vineyards. The relatively wide range of white wines dominates in this case, despite the fact that there are certain particularities which are worth pointing out.
Sauvignon is a yellow wine with greenish tints whose colour ranges to pale yellow. It is a wine with great aging potential whose aroma evolves from the initial flint scents, when young, to notes of dried figs and spice, when mature. Moreover, Sauvignon is a well-balanced wine with an unmatched fruity, generous flavour and an average alcohol content and acidity. All these turn it into a superb wine, one of Romania's finest.
Traminer Roz (Pink Traminer) is a wine whose colour ranges from greenish yellow to pale yellow or russet gold. Furthermore, this well-balanced, slightly spicy wine that has an average level of acidity and alcohol identifies itself by its flavour and aroma reminding of lime blossom. Usually produced as dry, but rarely also as medium-dry and medium-sweet, the Traminer Roz is characterised by a lingering hazelnut finish with pleasant and attractive notes.
Neuburger, with its yellow greenish to pale yellow hues, stands out as a full wine with a high level of acidity harmoniously blended with a similarly high content of alcohol and extract. Although neutral, its fragrance and aroma are captivating. Its flavour is judged as pleasant and lasting, distinct and expressive for the grape variety and the wine centre where it is made. Through aging, this wine will only improve, becoming full and creamy.
Muscat Ottonel has a yellow with green hues colour which changes in a relatively short period of time into golden yellow or yellow with amber tints. The fragrance and aroma are specific to the grape variety, obvious mostly in the case of the wine made after a longer process of maceration-fermentation. Through maturation and aging, the grape fragrance softens, being replaced by a new one, specific and more persistent, which makes the wine more attractive as a whole. Muscat Ottonel is a full, deep and complex wine with enticing traces of rose preserves and a buttery texture. Astringent when young, as time passes, and especially in the presence of residual sugar, this wine softens, gaining a subtle velvet-mouthfeel.
Feteasca Alba is a yellow-greenish wine which gains pale yellow or golden hues through aging. It is appreciated for its subtle flowery fragrance and aroma. This wine has a pleasant flavour given by its nice acidity, which confirms the initial olphactive impression preceding the tasting. When made from the best vintages, it boasts of fullness, softness and depth, qualities which have attracted wide appreciations. Moreover, Feteasca Alba can be also often blended into sparkling wines.
Feteasca Regala is a white wine with yellow-greenish or pale yellow tints. Its aroma, together with the subtle, but lasting flavour, makes it a true representative of its grape variety and vineyard. Fruity, crisp and medium-bodied, it is best used for making sparkling wines.
Riesling Italian (Italian Riesling) is a yellow greenish wine which gains pale or golden-yellow tints after maturation and aging. The wine is outstanding through the fragrances specific to the grape variety, but also to the vineyard, which are most poignant when it is still young. It has a high level of crisp acidity, perfectly balanced with the alcohol and extract content. The Italian Riesling constitutes a perfect representative of the full potential of the grape variety to produce a truly elegant wine. Moreover, it has to be pointed out that the Italian Riesling is a balanced fine wine which can be enjoyed as such or blended into sparkling wines.
Riesling de Rin (Rhine Riesling) is a yellow-greenish wine whose colour ranges up to pale-yellow in accordance with its age and the processing methods used for its making. It is most often known as a dry wine, and more rarely as medium-dry or medium-sweet. Its finesse and delicacy are given by scents of ripe apricots that mingle with the slightly perfumed flavour with crisp notes towards a lingering finish. Its high level of acidity, moderate content of alcohol and low level of extract make it perfect for blending into sparkling wines.
Both the high quality wines and the table wines made in the Aiud vineyard perfectly mirror the oenologic potential of the grape varieties, the different flavours yielded by the soil, and the techniques applied.
The Lechinta Vineyard
Vine-growing, an extremely popular activity among the Dacian people, further developed during the Roman occupation. The building of numerous roads, known at the time as "Roman ways," resulted in the transport, among other things, of military equipment, personnel, and various products that included wine as a basic element. Such a "Roman way" was discovered in Teaca, an important wine-growing centre where archaeologists unearthed relics decorated with elements related to wine-growing and making.
The coming of Saxons during the 12th and 13th centuries from areas around the Rhine and Mosella significantly increased the development of this activity in many villages found within the limits of today's vineyard.
Ilse Schliessleder and R. Fronius observe that, in 1361, the burg of Teaca was recorded as a customs point, later to become an important wine-growing centre in the Middle Ages. Documents state that, "regardless of the direction from which one approached Teaca, he or she was immediately impressed by the sight of vineyards stretching down the slopes." In 1546 the documents mention the presence here of a coopers' guild, proving that wine was already being made in significant quantities which required the services of such an organisation. According to various regulations passed in 1557 by Prince Johann Zapolya, the winegrowers from Teaca had certain privileges. In Geografia Marelui Principat Transilvania (The Geography of the Great Principality of Transylvania), published in 1794, the authors mention that "the inhabitants of Teaca raised cattle and were involved in agriculture and wine-growing," which represented an important income source. Furthermore, I. Botezan states that "the Lechinta vineyard developed the most during the flourishing period of feudalism, being famous, just like the Tarnave vineyard, for making fine wines."
Various old documents contain information on sales and purchases of vine plantations and wines, on the technology used in wine-growing, the presence of wine-cellars and on their facilities. The phylloxera menace led to the setting up of an engrafting school, whose headmaster was Stefan Fronius, a primary school teacher specialised in the engrafting technique.
Among the commercial goods traded between Transylvania and the other Romanian provinces, of Moldova and Wallachia, wine held an important place. The Romanian historian Nicolae Iorga pointed out that "money can be obtained by an increase in the customs duties of one gulden for every wine barrel." He also wrote that during the rule of Alexandru Ipsilante the wine trade became "less expensive and regulated (free)" and that the ruler Alexandru L?pu?neanu used to purchase "expensive wine made in Transylvania, around Bistrita, in order to use it at various religious dedication days."
It is also interesting to mention the presence of winegrowers' associations like the ones in Sieu--set up in 1925--and Tonciu, dating back to 1927. The results obtained by the local winegrowers were so impressive that there used to be a "Wine Week" held once a year in the major city of the county or, at times, in the most important wine-growing centres. The wines chosen for this occasion would enter for a competition and the best ones would receive prizes.
The data in the publication Dosarul Hortiviticol (The Hortivinicultural File), no. 3/1947, show that the largest area on which vines were grown could be found around Lechi?a. Apart from this locality and from Teaca, other important vine plantations were around Sangeorzul Nou, Urmenis and Saniacob.
Geographical setting and vine-growing centres
This vineyard is set on the hills found in the north-east of the Transylvanian Plateau, between the 46[degrees]40' and the 47[degrees]14' northern latitude parallels and has an absolute average altitude of 450 m (350550 m), values unmatched by any other Romanian vineyard. These peculiarities, together with the severe fragmentation of the hills, explain why the vine plantations spread out so much; it is in order to make the most of the soils and sun exposures. The fact that this vineyard is not set in the most suitable environment makes one think back to its beginnings, during the Roman occupation, and assumes that the locals wanted either to have a larger variety of consumer goods, or to put the soil and climate that were unsuitable for other crops to a more efficient use. The scattered wine-growing subdivisions are organised in four centres: Lechinta--with the subdivisions of Lechinta, Saniacob, Vermes, Sangeorzu Nou, Bungard, Sanmihaiu de Campie, Micestii de Campie, Chiochis, Matei, Nuseni, Budesti and Silvasu de Campie--, Teaca--with Dipsa, Galatii Bistrita, Teaca, Viile Tecii, Milas, Urmenis and Craiesti--, Bistrita--with Sarata, Mariselu, Sieu--Magherus, Dumitra, Sieu--Odorhei, Sintereag, Beclean, Caianu, Dumbravita, Uniu and Branistea--and Batos, with Monor, Batos, Lunca, Cozma, Faragau, Breaza, Alunis, Brancovenesti, Reghin, Bala, Glodeni, Gornesti, Chiheru, Hodosa and others. One should also note that the Lechinta vineyard borders on the independent wine-growing centre of Dej, whose main subdivisions are: Mica, Caseiu, Cuzdrioara, Catcau and Vad.
Although the environment found here does not match that which characterises the other vineyards of this region--which is why Lechinta has not been included in the "Land of Wine"--, it is still suitable for making table wines and, in some areas, even quality wines.
The lithologic substratum is not too different from other vineyards set on the Transylvanian Plateau, being made of the same combination of marl, sands, gravel, gritstone, conglomerates and Neogene volcanic tufa which, in situ or after a deluvial-argillaceous reshuffling, come to represent a valuable textural, geo-chemical and pedologic support for vine-growing.
The relief is mainly represented by moderately steep hills and also steep slopes (between 5[degrees] and 25[degrees]) which, in those areas where the forests have been cut down in order to grow various crops, vines or fruit trees, are affected by denudational processes (superficial or torrential erosion and strata slides). In order to stop these processes, sustained human effort is needed, especially as the majority of vines are set on the slopes and less on the river banks or on sedimentary glacis. These latter areas are used mainly for cereal crops: corn, barley, rye, oats and wheat.
The climate is moderate-continental, characterised by relatively hot summers and very cold winters, but with autumns in which the temperature is acceptable until October. This climate ensures a slow, but complete maturation of the grapes.
The annual average temperature is of approximately 8[degrees]C; the range of temperature for end-scale months is between 23[degrees] and 24[degrees]C (between -4[degrees]C and -5[degrees]C in January and +18[degrees]C and +19[degrees]C in July). However, the range of minimum and maximum temperatures recorded during several years exceeds 70[degrees]C. In this respect, one should not overlook the negative impact of temperatures under -20[degrees]C which occur every year, making it compulsory to protect the vines against winter frost. On the other hand, if the radiative-heliothermal values are obviously lower than in the case of other Romanian vineyards, they prove to be sufficient. The well-exposed slopes have an estimate of global solar radiation of 110-115 kcal/[cm.sup.2], sun exposure of 1,9002,000 h and a total of positive temperatures of between 3,000[degrees]C and 3,300[degrees]C.
The average rain-fall records indicate an average of 650-700 mm/year in the valleys and approximately 800 mm at the top of the hills. Under these circumstances, given the fact that the average potential evapo-perpiration is estimated at 600-650 mm/year, consequently there is a percolative hydric regime (in excess during the winter and almost balanced in summer).
The westerly winds are predominant in summer, while in winter those blowing from the north or north-east and bringing masses of very cold air over the vineyard are the most frequent.
The natural vegetation used to be represented by compact deciduous tree forests, with or without hornbeam, and secondary mesophyllum meadows of Festuceto-Agrostidetum. Unfortunately, only 30% of this type of vegetation has survived the human intervention.
The soil can be generally classified as belonging to the evolved brown soils section--brown luvic and brown eumesobasic soils--, typical or pseudogleyised, which dominate the northern and central part of the vineyard, while in the south one can identify clayilluvial and pseudorendzinic chernozems that display typical formats on quasi-horizontal forms of relief and in different stages of erosion on steeper slopes. Except for the pseudogleyised, pseudogleyic and, locally, vertic subcategories of brown soils, hardly suitable for winegrowing, the other types of soil have a medium to high index of appropriateness for this activity--provided, of course, the winds and temperature are also favourable.
On the hill slopes there are frequent areas covered by regosols and erodisols (which together make up for 25-30% of the pedologic stratum) caused by the pedo-geomorphological denudational processes affecting the hills. Their low fertility potential is often increased by means of anthropic earthwork and organic-mineral fertilisation, which lead to the total or partial loss of the natural features that used to characterise the soil in question. Excesses of humidity (caused by underground waters or floods) and the climatic ecotope of the alluvial soils found in the flood plains cause these areas to be excluded, with rare exceptions, from the wine-growing activity.
The result is that, although the natural environment does not meet all the requirements of setting up a vineyard, people have managed to improve those factors which made it unsuitable for other activities by planting vines and thus both stopping erosion and obtaining much better economic results.
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|Title Annotation:||p. 12-37|
|Author:||Cotea, Valeriu D.; Barbu, Neculai; Grigorescu, Constantin C.; Cotea, Valeriu V.|
|Publication:||Romanian Journal of Artistic Creativity|
|Date:||Jun 22, 2016|
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