Feteasca Alba 1983 from Bucium winery: an unexpected discovery from Romania
Feteasca is a grape variety that is known to have three expressions: the dark skinned Neagra, and two white skinned, the Regala and the Alba. In actuality, there is no definite evidence that all of these are even related to each other, despite the name. The Feteasca Alba supposedly originated in Moldavia and then spread west to Transylvania and Hungary. In Romania, it covers more than 10% of the total plantings, with 10.500 ha. It is second only to Regala in plantings and thought to be a clonal variation of Neagra, although this has not been positively proven.
Feteasca Alba typically produces fresh, elegant wines with scents reminiscent of flowers together with nuances of stone fruit. The wines that are produced from vines in cooler mesoclimates preserve more acidity, thus delivering a crispy profile. In terms of quality one can't say that Feteasca Alba deserves a place in the hall of fame of the most ageworthy varieties. Contrarily, most wines are meant to be drunk during the first two to three years of their life, at which time the primary aromas are stronger.
Up to now, this is what holds true in most cases, but I happened to taste a mature 34 year old dry Feteasca Alba from Bucium winery that completely blew away the illusion that it can only be enjoyed young. The wine proved to be a fine example of a mature dry white of international class. On the palate it was very complex and layered, despite the obvious oxidation on the nose. Scents of apricots, honey and herbal chamomile combined with a texture which was gorgeous, almost satiny, constructed a wine of outstanding harmony and length.
The case may be that there are no lesser varieties, but varieties which, in the right hands, both in the vineyard and in the winery, can be transformed and can achieve impressive results. Unfortunately, I had no more information at my disposal about the particular wine and the bottle that was tasted might be one of the very few available. The website only features a medium dry and a sweet Feteasca.