Can Romania become eastern Europe's new Bordeaux?
By Ioana Patran
GURA VADULUI, Romania Oct 2 (Reuters) - Can the latest fad for wine enthusiasts possibly come from an eastern European country whose wine-growing traditions are as old as Christianity?
Romania is the sixth-largest wine grower in the European Union and its enthusiastic proponents say the aspect of its 180,000 hectares of vineyards, unique soil, unusual grapes and inexpensive costs make it a producer to watch.
"What is unique about Romania is certainly the soils that can give unique characteristics to the wine," said Stephen Donnelly, oenologist of the Budureasca vineyard some 90 km northeast of capital Bucharest.
Romania's wine region lies on its western coast alongside the Black Sea, where vineyards dot the mostly sunny slopes and play home to grapes with names such as Feteasca Neagra and Tamaioasa Romaneasca.
"The two varieties I get most asked for when I do shows in London are Feteasca Neagra and Tamaioasa Romaneasca, which are both indigenous varieties," Donnelly told Reuters. "Because everyone has tasted Merlot from Chile, Argentina, so it's nothing special there."
The Tamaioasa grape has ancient Greek origins and has been cultivated in Romania for more than two thousand years.
"Pale straw in colour, strong aroma of elderflower, strong flavours of fresh lychee, and with a soft natural sweetness and a long finish," is how Donnelly described the wine.