Discover / Varieties / Băbească Neagră

A Romanian variety of high acidity, producing fairy light reds.

PRINCIPAL SYNONYMS: Asil Kara (Daghestan), Băbească, Căldărușă, Chernyi Redkii (Ukraine), Crăcană, Crăcănată, Poamă Rară Neagră (Republic of Moldova), Rărăneagră or Rară Neagră (Republic of Moldova), Răschirată, Rastriopa (Republic of Moldova), Serecsia Ciornaia (Republic of Moldova), Sereksia (Ukraine), Sereksiya (US)

This is a very old Romanian variety, Băbească Neagră literally meaning 'grandmother's black.' It most likely originated in the Nicorești vineyards in the county of Galați in the Romanian region of Moldova, bordering on Ukraine, where it was allegedly mentioned in documents as early as the 14th century and where it still shows significant intravarietal diversity (an indication of its age), including colour mutations with white (Băbească Albă) and green-grey or pink berries (Băbească Gri) (Dejeu 2004).

Vigorous, mid budding, late ripening. Prone to millerandage, especially if yields are high. Medium-sized to large loose bunches of thin-skinned berries. Susceptible to botrytis bunch rot, powdery and downy mildews and drought but resistant to winter frosts (to -18 °C/-o.4 °F).

Wines are typically high in acidity, not very deeply coloured, with red-fruit flavours, mostly sour cherry. In Romania, it was grown on 4,516 ha (11,159 acres) in 2008, meaning it was quite widely planted but with the majority in Galați in the east. Most wines are ordinary and consumed locally but some higher-quality wines come from Nicorești and Odobești, the former giving its name to an appellation for this variety. Senator are unusual in producing a more serious varietal wine from the sandy terraces north of the Danube in the far south of the country. Senator have just a few hectares of the pink-berried Grey Băbească in Huși in the far east of Romania and make a clean, very fresh white wine with mineral rather than fruit flavours and a note of lime on the finish.

The Republic of Moldova had 80 ha (198 acres) of Rară Neagră in 2009. Recommended producers include Dionysos Mereni. According to Galet (2000), also planted in Ukraine.