The first thing you have to know about Jidvei is that this is a place in Transylvania where magic comes to life as wine and where efficiency reigns supreme. Get ready to be impressed by the scale of the operations, the beauty of the sites and the kind hearts of the people who are part of this company, which they love to call a family. Let’s start with the most important thing…the wine.
The Jidvei Winery
The mammoth of the Romanian viticulture, Jidvei, is a company with a long-standing tradition, which developed continuously after privatization. Currently, it has over 2400 hectares producing wine and over 30 wines in the portfolio. These cover all price levels and satisfy most demands, both domestically and abroad. The volume and efficiency of Jidvei are impressive, we are talking about millions of liters per year, all from the local production. Their bottling lines process 10.000 bottles per hour.
The flagship wines for Jidvei are the Romanian white varieties, Feteasca Albă, and especially, Feteasca Regală. The terroir, dominated by a cold climate and medium rainfall, together with the know-how of the winemakers, create wines with a refreshing mineral taste and delicate flower fragrances. International white varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer are also highly appreciated. In the vineyard on the Târnave, they found favorable conditions to express their character in full, keeping the specific floral, fruity or aromatic notes.
Trust my tasting buds
I have tasted the 2018 harvest, which is an exceptional year. Since it is still young, the tasting was made directly from the tank, at the ultra-modern gravitational cellar at Tăuni. This is one of the four processing facilities, alongside Jidvei, Blaj, and Bălcaciu. Although the conditions were not the most favorable, as it was freezing cold, the Royal Feteasca and the Pinot Noir vinified in rose impressed me.
Mr. Ioan Buia, the chief winemaker, showed us some of the bottled wines as well during the dinner. After the tasting, I put on the shopping list for the holidays the following:
– Owner’s Choice Ana Sauvignon Blanc – a yellowish color with green reflections, it has a delicate nose with citric (lime) and vegetable notes, reminiscent of the wines from the Loire Valley. The taste is inspired by the New World and contains pineapple and banana. The structure is balanced, with a medium, well-integrated alcohol, while the slightly elevated acidity makes it fresh. An elegant wine that fits well besides turkey roast.
–Grigorescu Gewurtztraminer– On the border between off-dry and medium-sweet, this wine brings an explosion of roses and grapefruit notes. The taste also includes spices (cinnamon, ginger). It can accompany fusion cuisine, inspired by Asian dishes or even desserts.
The cool evenings, when you welcome carol singers, ask for a more characterful liqueur. You can make it really special with a drop of Vinars Jidvei, which has floral notes but also hints of vanilla, cigar, almonds and burned wood. Vinars is the Romanian name for a spirit similar to Cognac, which, like Champagne, is a protected name.
The ladies have been more impressed by the Eiswein, a rare product of great complexity, in which the honey taste blends with that of raisins, almonds and quince.
The Bethlen-Haller Castle
Following the French tradition, the story of the winery would not be complete without a”chateau.” In the case of Jidvei, this is the XVI century building owned by various noble Hungarians families. Created as a leisure residence, a hunting castle, it never had a defense purpose or capabilities. Initially built in the Renaissance style, like some of the castles from the Loire Valley, it gets baroque elements in the late 17th-century renovation under the Bethlen family. Legend has it that the following owners, the Haller family, won it at a game of cards.
We know for sure that in 1948 it is nationalized and becomes the champagne department of Jidvei IAS. In the post-communist era, it was bought by the Necşulescu family, returned to the Haller family and bought the second time by the Necşulescu family for renovation.
Nowadays, it is the jewel of Jidvei’s crown, the place where the largest wine cellar in Romania receives its guests and treats them like royalty. Even those staying in the former stables, converted to rooms, will feel part of the story. About the feasts in the castle cellar, I will not say a word…
If you get there, ask to see the owner’s wall clock collection, which enriches each year with a new piece. It is placed next to the spiral wooden staircase, among the very few in Europe preserved so well.
The People at Jidvei
Beyond the millions of liters of wine created and sold each year, Jidvei means a story and a great family. Three generations write a new page every day, along with more than1,500 employees who are treated as relatives, not just as simple employees.
Our host was Mr. Liviu Necşulescu, a true paterfamilias, who, at almost 90 years old, impressed us with his love for life, dancing, and kindness that he demonstrates towards anyone. Over a glass of wine, he told us that he had acquired these values in adolescence when his mother punished him if he did not show respect to everybody, regardless of their rank or ethnicity.
Another idea he believes in is that you have to share your wealth. Jidvei supports numerous humanitarian or cultural projects, including several kindergartens. He passed on the values of humanity and honor to his the son, who is now at the helm of the business and to his two granddaughters.
Ms. Irina Incze, is the iron hand in a velvet glove ensuring that each corner of the property looks impeccable, that the guests are delighted with information, fed with Transylvanian dishes and that the entire castle functions as a Swiss clock mechanism.
The great family of Jidvei includes talented people, folk ensembles, wine-makers, technicians, and last but not least, our “guide”,Ioana Ardelean, who proved to be a remarkable folk singer besides a full-time PR.
When you get an invitation to a “Magic Trip”, the expectations are quite high. After the experience, I can say that, through my eyes, three things were magical.
I loved the view from the Tăuni Hill with hundreds of hectares of vine under the snow while sipping the wine created there.
I felt cozy tasting mulled wine with homemade cake while listening to the children singing carols in the courtyard of the castle.
Most of all, I loved the happiness in the eyes of the owner when he told us he is inviting us at his birthday, next the year. It seems that Jidvei has already solved the Mysterium of life.
Behind the keyboard...
Silvia Palasca- web dev by day, wine storyteller by night (or the other way around)
Hello, I'm Silvia, wine and travel enthusiast. Looking to turn my passions into a lifestyle. As I writer and web designer I thrive on great sips and epic scenery. WSET Level 2 graduate, I love writing, talking and analyzing wine. If you have a project in mind, let's talk!