The biddies resume the passport tour with a visit to Moldova, one of the oldest wine-producing regions of the world. Moldova has a greater percentage of its land covered with vineyards than any other country in the world – and is home to two sprawling wine caves. Tune in to learn all about it!
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Winerist Magazine, The Fascinating History of Moldovan Wine
Wine of Moldova, History of Moldovan Wine
Forbes.com, Moldova, A Wine Experience Out of the Ordinary
Wine of Moldova, Local Grape Varieties
Bulgari Winery, About Moldova
National Geographic, This Massive Underground City is Filled with Wine
Forbes, Inside Vladimir Putin’s Outrageous Underground Wine Cellar in Moldova
Wine Searcher, Democracy in A Glass: The Return of Moldovan Wine
Image Credit: Are Local Grapes the Future of Moldovan Wines?
Please note some of these notes may be directly copied and pasted from above sources.
Study notes for Moldovan Wine:
- Moldova has a little over 100,000 hectares of vines which actually means that the country has a bigger proportion of its land covered with vineyards than any other country.
- Its situation close to the Black Sea puts it near to where the first wines were made many thousand years ago. And Moldova has a very long history of winemaking.
- But, Moldovan wines were hidden from the rest of the world for almost 50 years, when Moldova was part of the Soviet Union.
- evidence of winemaking found dating back to the Neolithic Period, approximately 7000 years ago
- Domestication and cultivation of forest (wild) vines takes place, most likely, during the Cucuteni-Trypillia culture – one of the oldest civilisations in Europe (5500 to 2750 BCE)
- Ancient Greeks brought the knowledge of fermentation and other varietals when they colonized Moldova
- Romans brought more winemaking know-how
- Middle ages roughly 1100s-1400s, tradition of servants planting vineyards and providing their wine to royalty as cup-bearers
- Also have winemaking monasteries during middle ages
- Have records of titles and taxes on vineyards and also exports of wine to Russia and Poland
- 1596 Moldova is the principal wine exporter to both Russia and Poland
- Moldova becomes part of the Ottoman Empire until 1812 – winemaking suffers
- When Bessarabia (which today forms part of Moldova) became became part of the Russian Empire in 1812, winemaking started to adopt a more noble air through the establishment of wine estates and the planting of special vine cuttings brought from France.
- Bessarabia became the number one wine producer in the Russian Empire as Russian aristocrats made drinking wine and buying their own vineyards fashionable.
- Purcari wines won gold medals at the Paris World Exhibition in 1878 and the Romanov royal family started a company in their name that delivered Purcari wines to the English royal court.
- During this time, the wine growing regions of Bessarabia – now largely Moldova- became internationally known.
- Other regions – 1700s Dimitrie Cantemir categorizes wine
- In the chapter “On plains and forests of Moldova”, Dimitrie Cantemir, in his work “Description of Moldova”, stated that vineyards were one of the greatest treasures riches of the land of Moldovan land.
- The Cotnari wine is defined as “The most select” and is believed to be “more distinguished and better than other European wines and even better than the Tokay wine”.
- Next were ranked, respectively, the wine from Husi, the wine from Odobesti, from Nicoresti, the wine produced in the Tecuci area, and the wines from Grecești and Costești villages of the Tutova county.
- 1886-88 PHYLLOXERA
- 1900s winemaking suffers as Moldova is part of USSR
- During Soviet times Moldova made huge quantities of wine. Most of it was drunk within the Soviet Union and most of it was simple bulk wine.
- In 1980 the vineyard surface was a little over 200,000 hectares which is enormous for such a small country.
- However, in the mid-1980s the Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev launched his anti-alcohol campaign. The wine industry in Moldova suffered severely. Almost one-third of the vineyards were pulled up.
- Moldova established its independence from USSR in 1991 – resurgence of viticulture
- Primary market was still Russia until 2006 and 2013 when Russia placed an embargo on Moldovan wines
- FETEASCA ALBA (white): This is an ancient variety that has been cultivated for centuries. Originates from Transylvania, Romania.
- Parents are Fetasca regala and Francusa
- Wines are fine, delicate, light and fresh
- There are also 52 other names for it
- Can be dry, semi-dry, sweet and sparkling
- FETEASCA REGALA (red): Originally found in the 1920s in Romania
- 32 different names
- Floral, grapefruit aroma with fresh pear, citrus nuances
- Medium bodied wine when put in stainless steel and full bodied when kept in barrels
- FETEASCA NEAGRA (red): Could be more than 2000 years old with origins in the Prut River valley in the south-western part of Moldova
- Most likely cultivated directly from wild plants
- High quality red wines with wild, purple cherry aromas with a berry taste
- Also called Swallowtail, Black Bird, Black Face Grape…
- RARA NEAGRA: cultivated as early as the Geto-Daican times
- Relatively pale color with delicate, light tannins and a taste of spicy berries
Domestic New Selection:
- LEGENDA: created in 1975 by the National Institute of Winemaking and Viticulture of the Republic of Moldova
- Crossbreeding of the Royal Vineyard table variety grape from England with the pink Traminer variety (Austria)
- VIORICA: an aromatic variety
- This hybrid contain no malvidin diglucoside concentrations exceeding the legal limits set by the EU and consequently pose no danger to a consumers health???
- Malvidin Diglucosdie is a natural pigment found in many native American visits species and in hybrids that contain native American parents
- CONDRINSCHI: Cabernet and Rara Neagra
- ALB DE ONTICANTI
- Moldovan viticulture is characterized by a large range of grape varieties, more than 90% being of the European origin.
- The most common white ones are: Aligote, White Muscat, Muscat Ottonel, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Feteasca, Traminer, Rhin Riesling, Italian Riesling, Silvaner.
- The most common red ones are: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Malbec.
- The proportion of the white varieties to the red ones is approximately 70 to 30 percent of the total cultivated area. Moldovan growers began to grow European varieties about 35-40 years ago.
- Central or Codru Region.
- This is where more than 50% of Moldova’s vines grow. The forests, hills and rolling countryside typical of this region protect the vineyards from winter frosts and dry summer winds.
- It is the best area for Feteasca, Sauvignon, Riesling, Traminer rose and Cabernet production.
- There is also a famous microclimate zone in this region – the Romanesti – the former wine-making Imperial colony of Romanov dynasty. This is the place to sample the best white and sparkling wines, as well as the so-called “divines” (fortified wines) and sherries.
- South East or Purcari Region
- This is a narrow strip of land stretching along the western bank of the Nistru river and home to the famous Purcari winery.
- Red grape production is prevalent here, particularly Merlot, Cabernet-Sauvignon and Rara neagra.
- The Purcari estate was famous for developing German vines and winemaking techniques, and producing high quality wines comparable to Russillions – Landnedoc.
- Southern Region.
- This region is famous for its French vine varieties, which have perfectly adapted to the climate conditions of the area: Pinot gris, Muscat blanc, Traminer rose, Gamay freaux, Cabernet, etc.
- The high quality red wines grown here allow the region to be compared to the Bordeaux region of France.
- Northern Region.
- Much of the grape harvest from here is destined for brandy production and includes fine white varieties, such as Aligote, Pinot, Feteasca, Traminer, Sauvignon, Riesling and Chardonnay.
- The largest underground wine cellar in the world located near Chisinau, the country’s capital
- It’s more like an underground city with miles of tunnels filled with wine
- Every “street” carries the name of a certain grape like Pinot or Cabernet Sauvignon and visitors can slowly driver cars or bikes through the maze
- Used to be an old limestone mine and stretches for 150 miles
- The temperatures stay consistently around mid-50s Fahrenheit
- Two million bottles are occupying only half of the space down there
- You need your own vehicle and an expert tour guide to enter the space which weaves past a natural underwater cascade, then the most prized vintages until entering a tasting room nearly 200 feet underground
- Cricova winery also contains an extensive network of underground tunnels that stretch for about 75 miles
- A state-owned wine cellar
- Again, another former limestone mining cave that was converted into a luxurious wine retreat in the 1950s
- Cars, a red mini train and according to members, a gold plated buggy for President Putin
- Also has streets named after Grapes
- The 130 acres of the winery include five large tasting rooms, one which is a European Hall established for Congress and business meetings
- Established in 1952 and produces 150 types of wine
- First Moldovan company that manufactures sparkling wine by the method of Dom Pierre Perignon (5 women manually rotate each of the 35,000 bottles daily)
- Contains a remarkable of wine amassing 1.3 million bottles with one of the most regarded being the red desert wine Easter jerusalem which originally only had 400 original bottles created in 1902
- Most notorious is collection that belonged to Hermann Goring the Nazi commander
- Putin house his own personal wine collection in here since 2002
MOLDOVAN WINE TODAY
- Highly regarded by Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, “When considering a glass from abroad, you might try a Moldovan Vintage”
- They had record sales in 2019 and China has become Moldova’s fourth largest and fast growing export market
- Only 2.5 percent of wine is usually exported to the US
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