Considered the “pearl of the crown” in Romanian wine-growing, the Moldova Hills region boasts a long and spectacular winemaking tradition. Numerous historical landmarks place it on the domestic podium of the industry, with the wines coming from the mellow hills here representing the bulk of the national production. Indeed, according to the National Statistics Institute, out of the total of 3,005.4 thousand hl of wine from noble tupes produced in 2013, the Moldova Hills region places first, with 1,123.3 thousand hl. Placed in the hilly area between the Moldova Sub-Carpathiansm the Bend Sub-Carpathians, the Prut Valley and the lower Siret Valley, the region yileds mainly white wines, but also reze and reds, from table winess to the most sophisticated wines.
Being the most extensive winegrowing region, we meet the lartest number of vineyards here: Bohotin, Cotești, Cotnari, Dealu Bujorului, Huși, Iași, Nicorești, Odobești, Panciu, Iana. The representative grapes for the Moldova Hills are Grasa of Cotnari, Frâncușa, White Feteasca, Odobești Yellow, Zghihara of Huși, Romanian Tămâioasa and Busuioaca of Bohotin, Black Băbeasca, Black Feteasca. The generous offer of the region includes dry, half-dry and sweet white, rose wones, bubbly wines and dry and half-dry reds.
(a) The Bohotin Vineyards
A vineyard with an old tradition, Bohotin is placed in the Central Moldova Plateau, and produces white, rose and red wines. The climate is excessively continental, with rough winters and dry summers, influenced by the air circulation towards the open valley of the Prut. The average annual temperature is of 9.6°C. According to the ONVPV, ,the prevailing types of soil are moisols/cambic chernozem (30 – 35%), followed by argillosoils in the high areas (altitudes of 250-300 metres). In the plateau area, the solification rocks are represented by loessoidal deposits, and by calcareous sandstoned in the central/nordic area.
The uncontested star of this vineyard is Busuioaca of Bohotin, which inspired writer Ionel Teodoreanu to say that “it humbles you as soon as you taste it.” As a matter of fact, this type of wine alsi appears in the famous Dictionnaire Encyclopedie des Cepages (Encyclopaegic Dictionary of Vines), where Busuioaca of Bohotin ranks together with other tens of tounsands of types of wone from all over the world, with the description “Romanian red wine.”
The vineyars produces whote wines (Muscat Ottonel, Grey Pinot, Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Italian Riesling, Aligote, White Fetească, Royal Fetească), types for rose wines (Busuioacă of Bohotin) and types for red wines (Cabernet Sauvignon, Black Fetească, Merlot, Pinot noir, Black Băbească).
(b) The Cotesti Vineyards
Numerous archaeological proofs show that the Getae-Dacians grew vines in this part of Moldova, a tradition which was continued and developed over time. Stretching over 12,000 hectares, Cotesti continued the Panciu and Odobesti vineyards, forming the soncalled “Vrancea vineyards.” The area enjoys a climate which favors the development of vineyards / bright sun and moderate rainfaii. The geological composition of the soil consists of layers of grit and gravel which form the aired soild favorable to the development of vines. During daytime, it absorbs the heat of the sun rays which it releases at night. The mos trenowned types of wines of the Cotesti vineyard are White Feteasca, Royal Regală, Black Feteasca; Pinot, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat Ottonel, Black Băbească, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon wines. The old types also include Odobești Yellow and Frâncușa.
(c) The Cotnari Vineyards
The “holy hills” of Cotnari – historian and scholar Dimittrie Cantemir dubbed the region in his work “Descriptio Moldaviae,” to underscore the importance of this noble vineyard. As a matter of fact, it would take a hundred pages to sum up the mentions of the Cotnari wines by so many chroniclers, wrotres or poets in a monograph of the area. Virtually, we can speak about Cotnari from the Getae-Dacians until today.
Geopgaphically, the vineyard is between the Suceana Plateau (West) and the hilly Moldova Plain (East), stretching out in layers (from the 400 metres of the Catalina Hill, down to the river plains). From a climate viewpoint, it is at the crossroads between the East-European masses of air specific to the Moldova Plain and the Baltic ones, specific to the Suceava Plateau. The climate is characterized by average annual temparatures of 9˚C, average annual rainfall of 474.6 mm and winds blowing mainly from the north-west, south-east and south. The winds are of the foehn type – they heat the air – and the depressions which surround the vineyard form a protective shield. This explains why the springs are early and the autumns are quite warm.
The stars of this vineyard are otained from grape types like Grasă of Cotnari, White Fetească, Romanian Tămâioasă and Frâncuşă, which make up the traditional sort type of Cotnari.
(d) The Bujorului Hill Vineyards
This is the youngest Romanian vineyard, since noble vines were planted here only in 1933. It stretches over 4,000 ha, and has become a major wine-gworing center (The Bujoru Research-Development Complex for Winemaking and Vinification). The vineyard is on the territory of the Galati county, stretching ob the hills of Covurlui, with a hilly relief. The climate is temperate-continental, favorable to red wines. The most widespread soils are the levitated chernozems, with a clayey sand texture and a pH between 7.4 and 8.1. The Buhorului Hill vineyard is known especially for the Merlot wine, but several other tyoes of wines are produced here: curent consumption wines (Royal Feteasca, Aligote), white wines (White Fetească, Italian Riesling, Muscat Ottonel, Sârba) and table grapes (Chasselas Dore, Muscat of Hamburg, Black Coarnă).
(e) The Husi Vineyards
Specialty studies show that vines are grown in the Husi area for 7,000 years, when they were wild (vitis silvestris). The first documents attesting to the presence of vineyards in this region date back to the 15th century. As a matter of fact, the vine growers and vintners craft is mentioned in historical references as having a better social position that that of the farmers, and this explains why it has been said that the Romanians were vintners first, then farmers
The first society of the vine growers was formed in Husi in 1897, to fight against phylloxera and to revive the plantations, To promote the wines produced on the 3,000 ha, a wine growing school was created (in 1908), as well as a specialty magazine.
Geographically, the Husi vineyard is placed in a hilly region, at heights between 350 and 400 m, to the east of the Central Moldova Plateau, with the Prut Valley bordering it to the east. The climate is temperate-continental, with a moderate continental nuance at the level of the high hills and excessively-continental at the level of the Husi Depression. The average duration of sunshine is below 2000 hours on the high hills and over 2100 hours in the Husi Depression and in the Prut Valley. The composition of the souls differs with respect to altitude” from the molisoils of the steppe and silvo-steppe (chernozems, levigated chernozems, grey soils), to argilluviosols of the forest level (brown soild, podzolotic brown and island podzolotic soils). Husi produces several types of wine: Zghihara of Huși, Busuioaca of Bohotin of Huși and white and black Feteasca – domestic types. Later on, other types were introduced: Italian Riesling, Aligote, Oporto, Merlot, Cabernet, Sauvignon, Muscat Ottonel.
(f) The Iasi Vineyards
The first written documents about the vineyards of Iasi date back to the reign of Stephen the Great, who bestowed a vineyard at Socola to the Metropolitan Church of Suceava. Initially, the largest expanses of vineyard in the region belonged to the monasteries, and became, later on, the domains of merchants and aristocrats. At the end of the 19th century, the phylloxera destroyed the old vineyard plantations, and new ones were created, with grafted vines. The wine-growing and tree-growing nursery at Visan (1893), as well as the wine-growing Society of Iasi (1900) are important for the development of wine-growing in the region. Later on (1957), the wine.grape-growing complex of Iasi was created, significantly contributing to relaunching the region’s wine-growing culture.
The Iasi vineyard is located to the east-north-east of the Moldova Plateau, in the contact area of the hilly Plain of Moldova with the Central Moldova Plateau, marked by the imposing “Slope of Iasi.” The relief is hilly, with an attitude varying between 150 and 350 meters. The climate is temperate-continental, with excessive nuances, due to the position of interference between the moderately continental climate of the Central Moldova Plateau and the excessively continental one of the Moldova Plain. The average annual temperature is of de 9.4 degrees C. The sum of rainfall is of 562 mm, with 366 mm during the vegetation period.
The Iasi vineyars produces grapes for the white and red types of tine. The types are: Muscat Ottonel, Sauvignon, Grey Pinot, Chardonnay, Rose Traminer, Italian Riesling, White Fetească, Royal Fetească, Aligoté, while the reds produce Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot noir, Black Fetească, Black Băbească.
(g) The Nicoresti Vineyards
Nicoresti is an old vineyard (14th-15th centuries) which is the place of origin of the Black Babeasca type of grape. The name might have been given by Stephen the Great, a red wine which is said to have been served to him by Hetman Nicoara. To honour him, the prince changed the old name of the place from Policin to Bicoresti. Stretching over 2,800 ha, the vineyard lied in the north-west part of the Galati county, between the Siret and Barlad rivers, in a hilly area including the Nicoresti and Bucuimeni wine-growing centres. The climate is temperate continental, with an average temperature of 9.9 degrees C and rainfall between 500 and 550 mm. The provailing types of soil are chernozems and cambic chernozems. The Black Babeasca is the most representative type of wine, while the reds are dry, wich an intense aroma. White Feteasca is also specific to Nicoresti, with other types including Black Feteasca, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon.
(h) The Odobesti Vineyards
The Odobesti Vineyard lied to the east of the Bend Sub-Carpathians, on the area of the towns of Bolotești, Jariștea and Odobești, with a wine-growing surface of around 7,000 ha. It is onew of the best known and oldest Romanian vineyards, with the first documentary mentions dating back to the 17th century. As a matter, of fact, in 1777, Fremch scholar Jean Louis Carra, thre secretary of Prince Grigore Ghica of Moldova, said is a report that the taxes levied on wine made up 10of Moldova’s total revenues, with three-quarters coming from the Odobesti Vineyard.
The relief is hilly, from some 300 meters to the west, to 100 meters to the east. The climate is temperate-continental, with an annual average temperature of 9 – 10 degrees C. The average duration of insolation is of around 120 hours. The region’s prevailing soild are molisoild, represented by levigated chernozems (cambic and argillo-luvials), prevailing in the easters and central part of the vineyard, and grey soils to the west.
The wine tipes cultivated at Odobesti are numerous. The whites include:: Aligoté, White Fetească, Royal Fetească, Odobeşti Yellow, Chasselas, Grey Pinot, Italian Riesling, Rhine Riesling, Sauvignon, Plăvaie, Rose Traminer, Chardonnay, Furmint, Grey Băbeasc, selected Crâmpoşie, Crâmpoşie, Donaris, Mustoasă de Măderat, Frâncuşa. Reds și rose-s: Black Fetească, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Black Babească, Codană. The spicy types are Şarba, Muscat Ottonel, Romanian Tămâioasă, Spicy Tramine, while the bubbly ones are Plăvaie, Aligoté, Muscat Ottonel, Romanian Tămâioasă, White Feteasca, Royal Fetească, Sauvignon, Grey Pinot, Variety Riesling, Black Băbească, Merlot, Black Fetească, Pinot Noir. Odobești also makes distilled wine: Plăvaie, Aligoté, Odobeşti yellow, Mioriţa, Royal Fetească, Grey Băbească.
(i) The Panciu Vineyards
It is said to date back to the times of the Dacians, since archaeological proofs were found in the area, attenting to their prooccupation with wine-growing. A fist documentary attestation is linked to 1527, when Georg von Reichersterffer, an envoy of Emperor Ferdinand of Habsburg to Prince Petru Rareş, speaks about the vine plantations in the area. Over time, the vine cultures suffered, either from natural calamities, or from wars, but the locals, vintners by traditionb, started from scratch every time, over again.
Geopgaphically, it is located in the Vrancea county, north of the Bend Sub-Carpathians and brodering on the Trotus river to the north, and on the Putna river to the south. The relief varies between 100 and 350 metres. The climate is temperate-continental, with influences from the masses of Scandinavian-Baltic air to the north, which interfere with the Mediterranean/tripical masses of warm air to the south. The prevailing soils are molisoild (cambic and argillo-luvial) and forest soils. The cambic chernozem cululates all the favorable chemical-biological and food properties.
The Odobesti grapes fall within several types, with several types of wines produced here. Whites include Aligoté, Grey Băbească, Chardonnay, Crâmpoşie, selected Crâmpoşie, White Fetească, Royal Fetească, Frâncuşă, Mustoasă of Măderat, Grey Pinot, Rhine Riesling, Italian Riesling, Sauvignon, Yellow of Odobeşti, Plăvaie, spicy Traminer, rose Traminer, Furmint. The red and rose types are Black Fetească, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot noir, Black Babeasc, Great Burgundy, Codană, Cadarcă, Spicy Black Portugais Bleu (Oporto), Arcaş, while the spicy ones are Şarba, Muscat Ottonel and Romanian Tămâioasa. Odobești also produces a variety of bubbly wines, with international acclaim: Plăvaie, Aligoté, Muscat Ottonel, Romanian Tămâioasă, white Fetească, Royal Fetească, Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Grey Pinot, Rhine Riesling, Italian Riesling, Black Babeasca, Merlot, Black Feteasca, Pinot Noir.
(j) The Iana Vineyards
It is a recently new and relatively smaller vineyard, stretching over some 75 hectares. Although there are archaeological proofs attesting to the practice of wine-griwing in the area since ancient times, only after the phylloxera did the voneyard here get contour. The present size dates back to the second half of the 19th century.
The Iana vineyars is small, grouping six villages in the Vaslui county: Iana, Perieni, Băcani, Suseni, Vulpăşeni and Pogana and it placed half-way between Barlan and Vaslui. The relief is hilly and the climate temperate-continental, with rough winters and scorching summers. The sunshine period varies between 2000-2150 hours per year. The representative soild for this vineyard are grey, cambic chernozems, and anthropic soild.
The wines produced at Iana are diverse, including whites like Sauvignon, Muscat Ottonel, White Fetească, Royal Fetească, Aligote, Italian Riesling, a rose (Busuioacă of Bohotin) and several reds (Pinot noir, Black Fetească, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Black Băbească).