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September 18th, 2013

Fetească Neagră, the most representative Romanian grape is now being harvested in Segarcea

Although its potential was disregarded for many years, Feteasca Neagra is now among the most well known and fruitful local Romanian varietals

          It was called „the flagship grape of Romania”, „the beauty from the countryside who conquered uptown”, „the first wine of the Dacians” etc. It was allegedly a vigorous grape, able to produce high quality wines, afterwards there were more and more voices saying that in fact Fetească Neagră has more virtues when used in blends than as a single varietal.
However, after the intense replanting between 1995 and 2005, Fetească Neagră has become a star of the Romanian labels. But the expressions we discovered in the bottles were so different that one could hardly believe it is the same grape. More or less assisted by a smaller or a bigger addition of Merlot, with a smaller or a bigger amount of residual sugar, Fetească Neagră had a long way to go before defining its own expression. It proved to be a healthy grape in the vineyard, but extremely delicate in all the other aspects. It can easily overcome the frost and the drought but it requires permanent care as it tends to grow than what would be beneficial for the plant.
          Its taste and flavors  vary significantly depending on the place where it grows, on the moment when its harvested, on the treatments undergone, on the aging time or the type of barrel chosen for barrel aging. The bottle aging is as significant. Moreover, this is one of the grapes that prove to be extremely sensitive to the way the wine is handled and stored in retail or restaurants.  
          Domeniul Coroanei Segarcea has chosen to approach Fetească Neagră  with maximum delicacy. The 13 ha under this grape are hand harvested exclusively, then maceration-fermentation is used for two weeks, after which the wine is sent to second or first use oak barrels, where it is aged for 8 to 12 months, under constant monitoring.  Afterwards the best possible blend is created from these barrels and the bottles are aged in the cellar. They will only be released on the market (on-trade exclusively) when they are optimum for consumption.  
Although this is difficult to do in Romania, particularly in terms of regularity on the market, Fetească Neagră from  Segarcea has rapidly earned a group of faithful aficionados who have understood that for some thing and more particularly for the exceptional thing, it is sometimes worth waiting.

Radu Rizea, Journalist

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