ROMANIA’S KING OF WINES AND THE WINE OF KINGS
Romania’s Grasa de Cotnari, is Tokaj’s rival regarding ‘the king of wines and the wine of kings’. It is a grape variety whose birthplace is the Cotnari appellation, however it is also cultivated in small quantities in Tokaj-Hegyalja wine region under the name of Kövérszőlő. The quality of Grasa de Cotnari has been confirmed throughout the centuries. Grasa de Cotnari was listed as the most expensive wine in a Venetian wine catalog in the 15th century and during the reign of the first ruler in Romania, Alexandru Ioan Cuza, Grasa de Cotnari was certified as equal in quality to Tokaji noble rot wines.
Grasa de Cotnari has become fashionable in the European courts in the 19th century, alongside sweet dessert wines from Hungary, South Africa and Cyprus. Nevertheless, with the advent of poor winemaking methods during communism, the quality of Grasa de Cotnari has deteriorated throughout the years. Moreover, with consumers’ preference for drier varieties, Grasa de Cotnari was unable to bounce back to its international acclaim. The wine is made out of botrytised grapes, however it has less residual sugar than its other dessert wines counterparts. The wine is still produced in Romania in small quantities by very few wineries. Cotnari Winery is the only one that boasts a collection of Grasa de Cotnari vintages dating back to the 1950s. As such, brand awareness is key to make Grasa de Cotnari gain popularity on the domestic market. Falling into the category of sweet wines that are palate pleasers for the average Romanian consumer, it should be marketeers’ goal to increase efforts to expand its presence on supermarket shelves of other Romanian counties, and not only be sold in the region where it is produced.