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Romania on way to breaking new vistas for red and white wines in Old World Europe

FINTESTI, Romania-- the gentle slopes of the Dealu Mare (Big Hill) region, winemakers are striving to make Romania the New World of wine in Europe.

“The conditions to make wine here are world-class,” says Walter Friedl, the Austrian co-owner of the E-book winery.

“We are here at 45 degrees of latitude and we have conditions like in Bordeaux or Tuscany,” he adds, speaking from his vaulted cellar, where wine matures in oak barrels made in France, Hungary and Russia as well as Romania.

Outside, pickers are harvesting grapes on the picturesque hills.

Friedl and his Romanian business partner Mihai Banita run an 82-hectare (200-acre) estate in Romania's southern Dealu Mare region, about an hour's drive from Bucharest.

The winery has a state-of-the-art processing unit that uses gravity to process grapes and a terrace overlooking the hills to welcome oenophile tourists.

Forty percent of the eight million euros (US$10 million) invested in the estate was provided by European funds for development granted to Romania as a new EU member.

With the exceptional sunshine of eastern Europe and Mediterranean air masses coming from the south, Dealu Mare is seen by specialists as one of the most favorable areas for wine.

Some influential oenologists, such as Bordeaux-based Michel Rolland, predict the Black Sea region — countries such as Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova and Armenia — will be the next big thing in the world of fine wines.

Romania grows international classics like Merlot, Cabernet-Sauvignon or Riesling, but also boasts unique local grape varieties.

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In this Sept. 20 photo, Romanian hand-pickers harvest grapes at E-book winery in Dealu Mare, 100 km northeast from Bucharest. Though Romania appears like a newcomer on the international wine map, the country is actually rediscovering a tradition dating back to antiquity.

(AFP)

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