Băbească Neagră is an old Romanian grape variety, attested to directly descend from the wild grapevine Vitis vinifera subsp. sylvestris. The name of the variety takes us back to the times of Stefan the Great, a famous Moldavian ruler. The legend claims that a soldier from his army was offered wine by an old lady, in the memory of his deceased son, killed by the Turks. Stefan the Great tasted afterwards a glass of this wine and he found it extremely good, so he decided to name it Băbească Neagră – Black Old Lady. It Is attested that, at the beginning of the 17th century, Richelieu, the French Cardinal, also highly cherished the Babească Neagră wine.
The bunch of grapes is full of branches and leaves and the black-blue berries are medium sized.
Wines are usually dry and delicate, with a ruby red color, not very intense, but vivid, and it gains more body with ageing. Taste and smell are very particular and easy to recognize, remembering red fruits, especially sour cherries, and the complex flavors of the ripe grapes. Aromas develop gradually, as the alcoholic strength (10-11,5%) and the sugar levels (180g/l – 210g/l) are medium and the wines maintain their pronounced freshness and lightness. Ageing in barrels and bottles is suitable, even though not recommended for long periods.
Harvest is done in the second half of September, when grapes reach full maturity.
The cultivation of Băbească Neagră variety knew a slow decrease throughout the last 15 years and nowadays wine producers tend to use it more blended with other varieties, then as a single origin. Due to its high acidity, can serve as raw material for red and rose sparkling wines.