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Genius Loci, Feteasca Regala 2007, Prince Știrbey

„Genius Loci: how do we export the territory? By importing the connoisseurs!” is the motto of the Genius Loci association of wine producers. Their goal is to „to present a united series of wines which can be found by the consumers exclusively in the area of which they are an expression”.

The assumption is that modern commerce facilities excels at bringing the wine up to the doorsteps of the consumer, in every

Genius Loci Stirbey

imaginable packaging and delivering ways. While this is indeed a progress in convenience, comfort, safety and -why not- pricing, it sometimes can create for the consumer a sense of isolation and remoteness from the nature of the product -wine. By providing it directly in the home and glass of the end consumer in such a standardized manner, similar to any carbonated drink or even to non-food products, the drinker is in danger to overlook the fact that wine is, by very nature, a product encapsulating the features and peculiarities of the fruit and place where it was produced.

Those producers who believe that wine has profound links with the territory and the culture where it originates, have created this association, aiming to invert this economic paradigm: in order to drink them, the connoisseurs simply have to go there. In other words, the consumer must use not only his/her visual, smelling and tasting capabilities, but also to experience the landscape and weather of the vineyards, to know the people who live and work there, to taste the local cuisine, etc. Underlying is the idea that wine is but a gateway to a holistic experience and, ultimately, to a way of lifestyle.

Currently, the association has 15 members -vineyards spread throughout Europe, offering wines with profound links with their own territory and a typicality that renders them unique, which can be found only in that area. The Romanian producer that has chosen to become a member in this association is Prince Știrbey, located Dragasani region, on the slopes of the Southern hills of Romania.

I have tasted their 2007 Feteasca Regala Genius Loci, following of course a trip I took to the winery back in July. Feteasca Regala is a typical Romanian grape, very popular among growers, originating as a natural hybrid between two other local grapes: Grasa and Feteasca Alba. Usually, it renders light-bodied and refreshing white wines, with discreet grassy and flowery flavors, and high acidity.

Stirbey Feteasca Regala 2007

This wine has a beautiful golden robe, bright and intense, reminding of maple leaves in the autumn. Although it has been aged for  22 months in oak barrels, the nose is not overwhelming or too heavy: it has a medium intensity, with the typical vanilla and ripe banana flavors, and also some dried flowers, hay and beeswax. Should it get too warm, the waxy notes tend to become a bit pungent, but not significantly. It has a sensual roundness in the mouth, full of ripe pear and apricots, and an underlying pastry note (muffins, croissants). The initial sensation is intense and mouth-filling, and then it becomes more gentle, leaving room for the ample acidity which brings more refreshing flavors -grapefruit, lemon rind. In the aftertaste there is a nice twist, leaving a dry and bitter sensation, like a Ceylon black tea.

It is difficult to judge how typical this wine is for its vintage year and for the vineyard. It is for sure difficult to compare with other Feteasca Regala wines from other winemakers, or even with other whites from Prince Știrbey. This could be a reason enough to drop by the winery and taste this wine, while gazing upon the round hills and the river far in the valley.



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