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A First Taste of Wine from Moldova

2020-09-24T14:12:57-04:00

In Moldova, wine is considered to be food, according to the country’s Parliament.

What a perfect subject for Wine Pairing Weekend this month. Thanks to Jeff at Food Wine Click for connecting us to Wine of Moldova, the public institution that represents the country’s wine industry. I received samples, and let me tell you that was incredibly helpful to me because I have very limited experience with wine and food from Moldova.

I knew that Moldova’s Mileștii Mici  holds the title of the world’s largest wine cellar. But that fun fact didn’t offer a clue to the country’s true wine experience. So before I opened my wine, I pulled out some resources and I’m sharing them here with you today.

Orientation includes a look at the map. On this label from Purcari Chateau, we see that Moldova is landlocked between Romania and Ukraine, with proximity to the Black Sea, an area that has immense historical significance to wine grape cultivation and vinification.

Moldova Wine

Chateau Purcari offers a map on the back label.

My friends Matthew Horkey and Charine Tan of Exotic Wine Travel put together an excellent explainer video recapping their experiences in Moldova. In their published piece on the topic, Moldovan Wine: Why It Matters and Why You Should Drink It, they explain the rich history of the country.

From early roots near the cradle of ancient winemaking, to years of production as the heart of Soviet winemaking, to an extended relationship with Russia (which was for years the key marketplace).

Now Moldova offers a modern perspective. Matthew and Charine have tasted through the range (in front of me I only have two red blends and a white) so I offer this video as essential watching:

After watching the video I consulted the websites for the wineries that sent me samples: Purcari Chateau, Chateau Vartely and Castel Mimi. While I’m certain there are small, family-owned wineries in Moldova, these three are hospitality-driven and significant in size. Purcari and Castel Mimi both date back to the 1800s, with legendary histories.

Then I checked out the Wine of Moldova website and learned that over 70% of grapes grown here are international or European varieties. There are three indicated wine regions: Valul lui Traian (south west), Stefan Voda (south east) and Codru (center).

Wine of Moldova Map1-A4

Map Courtesy: Wine of Moldova

With all of this in mind (still feeling very novice) I tasted three wines and considered what would be a reasonable pairing for each of them. While these aren’t dishes from Moldova, I think that the modern flavors of these wines suit international pairings. Interested in Moldovan food? I found this lovely article, filled with nostalgia and emotion. A great read and insight into the foodscape of Moldova.

Chateau Vartely Individo Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2015: A touch more Merlot than Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes were grown in the Bugeac region, in southern Moldova. This wine is well balanced and definately sports an international profile, a crowd pleaser!

Pair with: Crunchy Havarti Burger and Pickle Hamburger

Purcari Chateau Negru de Purcari 2016: This wine is a blend of 70% Cabernet-Sauvignon, 25% Saperavi and 5% Rara Neagră. This to me has a sweeter fruit presence, and meatier tones. It includes a smidge of Băbească neagră (AKA Rara Neagră) which is indigenous to Moldova and Romania, an important experience when tasting these wines. (Saperavi is native to Georgia).

Pair with: Grilled or Oven-Roasted Santa Maria Tri-Tip

Castel Mimi Feteasca Alba White Dry Wine 2018: Fetească Albă is indigenous to Moldova and Romania, and is also used in Hungary. This wine is light and fresh, with gentle citrus notes. Not an over-powering wine, this would make a good summer sipper. Refreshing!

Pair with: Grilled Whole Black Sea Bass and Vegetables with Charred Red Onion Vinaigrette

Written by: Jill at L’Occasion

A First Taste of Wine from Moldova 2020-09-24T14:12:57-04:00

Moldova – An Ancient Country with Beautiful Wines to Discover

2020-09-24T14:07:20-04:00

Where is Moldova you might ask when reading one of these posts. It is in Eastern Europe, in the South East specifically and borders Ukraine and Romania. This Black Sea basin is said to be the natural home of the grape vine.

It’s climate is moderately continental thanks to it’s proximity to the Black Sea and the many rivers and streams that criss cross the country. With a varied landscape, there are three principal historic regions known for wine:  Valul lui Traian (south west), Stefan Voda (south east) and Codru (center).

I love this breakdown of the grape varieties according to location. I have never seen the Caucasian category before. Very exciting to me.

The breakdown of the vineyards is 70% planted to white grapes and 30% to red. Much of the vineyard surface is planted to international varieties but there are also a host of indigenous ones such as Feteasca Alba, Feteasca Regala, Feteasca Neagra, Rara Neagra, Plavai, and Viorica.

The title of my post is Moldova, An Ancient Country because although I and many others aren’t that familiar with the Wines of Moldova, they have been around for a very long time. According to the Wines of Moldova website, The history of Wine of Moldova starts in 3000 BC, while the first vines were recorded here 7000 years BC. Wine used to be utilized as a medium of exchange and a trophy awarded after fights, which has made the wine a national product of Moldova.”

Moldovan wine history is long and varied and explained in great detail on the website suffice it to say, Roman occupied Moldova, the Ottoman Empire ruled Moldova, the Soviet Union ruled Moldova and throughout all of these occupations and difficulties not only were the wines prized but they made their way to the most noble families to put on their dinner table.

During the Soviet Union, 50% of the wines drunk were made in Moldova. A hefty amount. While an ancient country, it is also a new one and the modern wine industry dates to the 1990s.

Jeff of Foodwineclick!, our host for this weekend’s #winePW group, has visited and written extensively on the region. Click here to read his complete post about his visit.

While Jeff’s posts got me itching to go, I am content for the moment with the lovely samples I received for the blogging extravaganza – a Pinot Grigio, a Blanc de Noir and a Rara Neagra wine from an indigenous variety. Already thrilled at trying a new variety for me – Rara Neagra- I was really surprised by the quality of all three wines.


The first wine I tried was this Pinot Grigio from Purcari. The village of Purcari is home both to this winery and to the Agon Zograf Monastery.  This area was of great interest to French wine merchants who found similarities between the soils here and in Bordeaux.The wines were considered very prestigious and at one point were as well known as their French counterparts in Czarist Russia. They graced the table of Emperor Nicholas II as well as King George V and Queen Victoria of Great Britain.  Fast forward a couple of centuries and today Purcari has replanted many acres of vineyards and exports in more than 25 countries.

 

My first instinct when I tried the wine was to assume I got a bottle of Chardonnay. I didn’t read the label and I was looking for Apple in my glass and a touch of wood. I found neither. When I looked at the label I laughed and realized that this Pinot Grigio was a nice addition to my Pinot Grigio examples. It was lemon in color with citrus notes and a green tin undertone. On a blind tasting I would have been hard pressed to say this was a Pinot Grigio. It came alive with the Asparagus Frittata I made for Brunch. It was broader than some Pinot Grigio I have had in my life which is why I thought at first it was a Chardonnay but it had none of the over oaked flavors I was expected. Lovely and  subtle it was great with the Frittata.

Next Up was the Cricova sparkling wine which I was very excited to receive. I love sparkling wine for everyday drinking throughout a meal. This one was a Blanc de Noir and was a Pinot Noir. The history of this winery and its national collection has a lot to think about but I will leave that for another writer. I found this exhaustive post about the wine cellar from Forbes. A good read by Jim Dobson. What I can say is that I liked the traditional method wine they sent to me which was a perfect match for both grilled Salmon and Spaghetti with Bottarga. The cellars are I believe the largest in the world. They are exactly what I would imagine a former Soviet territory to have. I didn’t expect them to have a Nazi’s wine collection which honestly left me a bit speechless.

The wine was very straightforward on the nose and palate. I got more berry fruit than mushroom notes but the creamy perlage and the lovely acidity worked well both with the Salmon and the salty Bottarga. I also was celebrating good news that I had received and was very happy to have a spot of bubbly on hand.

My third wine was from the Gitana Winery, owned by the Dulgher family. This one was made of Rara Neagra. At first I thought it was the Moldovan way of saying a grape I know and then I discovered that it is indigenous to Moldova. Nothing I like better than local grapes, so I was really excited about this one too. The winery is located in Valul lui Traian, one of the three historic areas of Moldova for winemaking.

The grape is an ancient one that is grown in both Moldova and Romania.  Ruby red in color in the glass it had aromas and flavors of jam, plum and stewed fruits. Velvety and round, the tannins were silky and the acidity was  relatively high. The wine seemed to have lots of sweetness either from the wood used or RS. I paired it with a pizza and it was delicious and one glass easily led to the next. Perfect on this rainy Friday.

I have so enjoyed trying these wines and learning about Moldova and its long history.

 

A wine blog by Susannah Gold

Moldova – An Ancient Country with Beautiful Wines to Discover 2020-09-24T14:07:20-04:00

Moldovan Wines and Korean Sushi – Kimbap

2020-09-24T14:03:27-04:00

Being a history buff and journalism major, I was fascinated about the 20th century history of Eastern Europe. When I was 19 years old, I decided to travel with a friend to several Soviet Union ruling Eastern European countries like Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia for more than two months during the freshman year summer break. Back then, as a traveler on a shoestring budget, my focus was not on wines but rather on guarding my backpack from theft during the occasional overnight stays (a.k.a sleeping) in the train stations. Shortly after this eye-opening trip, I visited Moscow, St. Petersburg and Vladivostok multiple times to see how the communist party controlled the press! Jeff Burrows from Food Wine Click has this cool connection with VINOvations and Wine of Moldova USA and arranged samples for the #WinePW bloggers. For me, tasting Moldovan wines gives me a reason to revisit the map of the former USSR and to be nostalgic about my exciting young adulthood.

Staying with a hosting family in Krakow, Poland

Terroir of Moldovan Wines

The Republic of Moldova is a country located in Eastern Europe, bordered by Ukraine to the east and Romania to the west. Its geographic location embraces a moderate continental climate with short and occasionally very cold winters and long summers. Moldova’s landscapes vary considerably from endless steppes of the east, to forested hillsides of the central zone, and on to the vast Bugeac Plain in the south. The diverse landscape allows Moldova to offer a wide portfolio of wines, ranging from cool-climate wines, ice wines from noble rot, to wines from early ripen grapes.

Gogu Blanc de Merlot 2018/ Rosu de Purcari 2015/
310 Altitudine Cabernat Sauvignon – Feteasca Neagra 2017

5 Wine Facts of Moldova

  • The Republic of Moldova has the highest density in vineyards in the world – new vineyards are added to the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI/Appellation) year after year.
  • Still and effervescent white wines (55%) dominate the wine production in Moldova, followed by red (35%), rose (8%), and licorous white, rose and red (2%).
  • Moldova cultivates Western European, Black Sea Basin and indigenous grape varieties – 70% of which are white varieties (e.g., Rkatsiteli, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Aligoté), which are located predominantly in the Codru region, and 30% are red varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Saperavi) that are typically grown in the southern regions.
  • USA is the 10th most important export market for Moldovan wines.
  • Moldova is internationally famous for its vast underground cellars at Cricova and at Mileștii Mici – the latter holds the Guinness World Record for the largest wine collection in the world.
Moldovan Wines PGIs: Valul lui Traian (southwest), Stefan Voda (southeast), Codru (central) and
Divin (distilled wines) / Photo Credit: Wine of Moldova

Protected Geographical Indications (PGI – Appellation) of Moldova

The four Protected Geographical Indications in Moldova are Valul lui Traian (southwest), Stefan Voda (southeast), Codru (central) and Divin (which is for spirits distilled from wine through double distillation and aged for at least 3 years in contact with oak produced anywhere in Moldova).

Rosu de Purcari 2015:
Wild Dark Berries, Complex, Ripe, Rich, and Intense

Rosu de Purcari 2015 (SRP$39.99)

Purcari Chateau, located in Stefan Voda – near the Dniester River and Black Sea, is one of the most celebrated wineries and well-known wine brands in Eastern Europe. Found in 1827, its exceptional wines help Purcari win more than 200 awards at the most prestigious international wine competitions. Also the winery’s famous underground cellars were built in 1827, becoming the must-see for visitors visiting Stefan Voda.

Rosu de Purcari 2015: Cabernet Sauvignon 50%, Merlot 40%, Malbec 10%

Purcari Chateau’s Rosu de Purcari 2015 is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon 50%, Merlot 40%, Malbec 10%. This wine is a dream of red wine lovers. Its complexity and deepness is over-the-top, coupling with a surprise touch of sweetness, smoothness and a long lasting finish.

310 Altitudine Cabernat Sauvignon – Feteasca Neagra:
Bright acidity, black cherry, lightly oaked, well-structured and medicinal

310 Altitudine Cabernat Sauvignon – Feteasca Neagra 2017 (SRP$17.99)

Fautor Winery is the most awarded Moldovan winery in 2016 to 2018. Its strong suit is to have a portfolio of rare varieties that are considered as exclusive wines globally. Fautor Winery and its vineyards are located in the Tigheci microzone, which is known for producing Moldova’s high-quality whites and reds, in the Valul lui Traian region.

Gogu Blanc de Merlot:
Textured, Saline, Stone-fruit, Weighty for White, Medium-bodied

Gogu Blanc de Merlot 2018 (SRP$19.99)

Gogu Wineary‘s story began in 2004, when the founder and winemaker of the winery, Ilie Gogu, has decided to experiment with home winemaking after graduating from the Technical University of Moldova as a wine technologist. Gogu Winery locates in the Stefan Voda region, where vast majority of winemakers from this PGI put a stronger emphasis on red grape varieties. Ilie Gogu however has decided to emphasize white varieties when planting his vineyards and has balanced a decent diversity of red varieties such as the Western European Cabernet Sauvignon,  Merlot and Malbec, the legendary Georgian Saperavi, and local Feteasca Neagra.

Korean Sushi – Kimbap (roasted beef rolls, fish sausage rolls and roasted chicken rolls)

Korean Sushi – Kimbap

Korean sushi “kimbap” is very similar to Japanese sushi in terms of using cooked seasoned sushi rice and toasted nori seaweed as the base. The major differences are the ingredients you put inside the sushi. While the Japanese sushi favors raw fish like salmon, tuna, yellow tail and mackerel and raw vegetable like cucumber and avocado, Korean sushi uses cooked meats like beef, chicken or pork bulgogi and blanched/preserved vegetable like cooked carrot, spinach and kimchi. In my opinion, the Korean sushi is more fun and you can be creative and improvise to put in so many different types of meats and vegetables to create your rolls. It’s less expensive to make and more fool-proof for success as a party food as you don’t need to use raw fish.

Get sushi rice from the grocery store as long grain rice will not have the texture that’s soft and sticky enough for making kimbap. Once the rice is cooked and cool off, add salt and sesame oil to the rice for taste. The nori seaweed sheet can be found in an Asian grocery store.

To pair with the Gogu Blanc de Merlot, I have made fish sausage kimbap. The fish sausage is a must-try snack for people who even don’t like fish as it only has a very mild fish taste to it. The texture of the fish sausage resembles SPAM. It is a processed food but really works well with the cucumber, egg and cooked pepper in the kimbap. This Gogu Blanc de Merlot is one of my favorite whites I tasted so far in this summer. It’s medium-bodied and a tad saline, paring well with the umami seaweed and the savory fish sausage. The citrus and tropical fruity notes of the wine come out even more when having this lighter kimbap.

Gogu Blanc de Merlot, a weighty white that is versatile and dynamic and
just what one needs for summer dining

For the 310 Altitudine Cabernat Sauvignon – Feteasca Neagra 2017, I paired it with the shredded roasted chicken kimbap. I would say any cold-cut chicken or turkey slices you have handy will also serve the purpose. The 310 is a medium-bodied red that is complex but causal enough to pair with lean protein. I have no doubt that I can finish the bottle without the need of any food. But the chicken kimbap in fact is a good match as this wholesome chicken rice bites will help you drink even more.

310 Altitudine Cabernat Sauvignon – Feteasca Neagra: a cool label, a blend with an indigenous Moldovan grape, a dream for red wine lovers

The roasted beef kimbap is my favorite out of all three kimbaps as it’s hearty and a meal by itself. I added some creamy horseradish sauce to the beef as well to make it extra flavorful. The Rosu de Purcari blew my socks off by itself with its tannic yet elegant characters but was also a no brainer pair to the beef kimbap.

Foods and wines are the best way to learn a culture

Visiting Moldova to taste their wines is definitely on my bucket list now as these wines are truly impressive. What’s more important to me is to reconnect my adventurous younger self…but this time it’s through the lens of wines.

 

Written by:

Moldovan Wines and Korean Sushi – Kimbap 2020-09-24T14:03:27-04:00

Moldova: Bubbles, Red Blend, and …Pizza? Yes!

2020-09-24T13:55:06-04:00

Who is the eleventh largest producer of wine in Europe and in 2014 the twentieth largest wine producing country in the world?

Tiny Moldova!

While most of the wine from Moldova is exported, very little lands in the United States; instead it heads to Russia. Once part of the Soviet Union, Moldova is surrounded on three sides by Ukraine and Romania to the west, hugged by Romania. While landlocked, its continental climate is moderated by the massive Black Sea located nearby — and which also makes it suitable for wine grapes.

While wine from grapes grown in Moldova may be new to you and me, they’re not new to the region. The fossil record indicates that grapes were growing in Moldova 6-15 million year ago. In 2800 BC, grapes were cultivated, and winemaking began there 4-5000 years ago making it one of the world’s oldest winemaking regions in Europe.

 

 

Given an opportunity to sample wine from Moldova with our colleagues from the Wine Pairing Weekend group of wine writers hosted by Jeff Burrows of FoodWineClick!, Sue and I quickly said yes! Read Jeff’s informative invite post here. For this month’s #WinePW, we wrote about a sparkling wine from an indigenous grape and a  red wine that’s a blend of two well known international grapes, merlot and cabernet sauvignon. Following Sue’s research, we chose to pair the wines with thick crusted Moldovan inspired pizzas.

Sparkling Wine Menu

  • Oysters
  • Sushi platter
  • Shrimp salad
  • Moldova Inspired Strawberry pizza (recipe below)

Red Blend Menu

  • Cheese plate
  • Moldova Inspired Meat pizza (recipe below)

Cricova – Crisecco – Vin Spumant Brut ALB
12.5% alcohol SRP $20
Sample for my review consideration.
100% Fetească Albă

Fetească Albă is a white grape native to the region that’s used primarily for sparkling wine. About 2200 acres of this grape is grown in Moldova. This sparkling wine is made using the tank method where the secondary fermentation is accomplished in a tank. Located in the Codru region, where the winery has 75 miles of underground caves. This video below features four wineries in Moldova including Cricova.

Color:  Bright lemon yellow, large perlage

Nose: Light perfume of white flowers, citrus flowers, tuberose, bee pollen, nicely floral,

Palate: Fizzy, foamy, nice and dry, apple up front, tart citrus at the back of the palate almost like a lemon lifesaver, finish is nice and clean

Pairing: Peach flavors when paired with oysters; the oyster brings out beautiful fruit profiles in the wine. Nice with the shrimp, and very nice with shrimp in the salad. Sue thought it would be very nice with egg rolls. While it was nice with a salmon sushi roll, I preferred it it with the salmon sushi where it brings out such peachy fruit in the wine. Tuna sushi however, brings out a lemon quality in the wine. Sue loved the wine with the ginger on the sushi plate. I didn’t believe it and had to try it for myself. She was right, it works so well we started imagining how to use the wine for a ginger infused cocktail. We always think of bubbles as being a great party wine and this is no exception. It is very food friendly. With the large pelage, it holds the bubbles for a while ensuring it continues to stay fresh for quite some time.

An unexpected pleasure was how well the sparkling went with the savory pizza.

I really had a hard time deciding which of these two wines was better with the savory pizza. They were both fantastic together in their own ways. The fruit pizza was also perfect with this wine. They complimented and contrasted each other in different ways.

2015 – Castel Mimi – Rosu de Bulboaca – Barrique
14% alcohol SRP $20
Sample for mt review consideration.
70% merlot, 30% cabernet sauvignon

Read all about Castel Mimi’s remarkable “Phoenix” story from Jeff Burrows who visited August 2019.

Visit the Castel Mimi website here.

Color: Very dense, Garnet, brickish rim

Nose: This wine has all of the earthy elements that you think of when you think about Merlot. Sage eucalyptus, forest floor, gaureague, there is a meatiness to the wine as well, a bit of licorice, this wine has a very heady nose, Sue detected cayenne pepper, chocolate, and pepper and fruit. Sue has a recipe for spicy rhubarb chocolate brownies and kept saying that this wine smelled just like the brownies. There is a bit of vanilla as well.

Palate: Smooth velvety tannins, this wine is a smooth operator. Being a 2015, everything has integrated nicely.  Cherries and herbs that glide across the palate with a very pleasant lingering silty clay like finish. I don’t know how much longer one would want to cellar this wine. We both got the impression that this is a drink now, enjoy now wine.

Pairing:  Extra aged sharp cheddar becomes milk chocolate with the wine. Loves aged gouda, and salt cured olives. This  wine can handle and tame strong cheeses, salty cheeses, and cured meats: a perfect partner for a cheese plater. When looking into the food of Moldova Sue discovered a Moldovian pizza. She did not follow their recipe completely, mainly because they use pork on their pizza, so she put her own twist on the pizza. Moldovian pizza is oblong instead of round. They use egg as the base instead of cheese. She made an oblong pizza, elimated the egg opting for fresh mozzarella cheese instead because that is what we had, and using quality pork Italian sausage instead of pork cubes and sprinkled the top with sautéed prosciutto.  It turned out so nice and went perfectly with the wine. If we had more of this wine in our glass we would have tasted it with our strawberry pizza, but it was so good there wasn’t any left. We can only imagine how well it would have gone with this wine.

We are both so pleased with the wines we are ready to seek them out. Such great values. The wine and the menu this evening were perfect. We really hit it out of the ball park tonight.

Sue’s Organic Pizza 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup Organic whole wheat flour
  • 3 to 4 cups Organic unbleached all purpose flour,
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 1 teaspoon organic sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water 110 degrees
  • 2 Tablespoons Plus 1 teaspoon Olive oil
Directions
  • In a bowl mix 1 cup Wheat flour and 3 cups unbleached flour, sugar, salt, and yeast.
  • Add water and 2 T olive oil.
  • Mix until it comes together into a ball. If the dough is to sticky, add more flourI until a firm ball is formed.
  • Knead on a floured surface for 5 minutes.
  • Pour remaining oil onto a  large glass or ceramic bowl to coat.
  • Place the dough into the bowl and turn so it is coated with oil.
  • Cover with a tea towel, and let rise until doubled in size approximately 1/2 to 1 hour.
  • Cut dough in half and knead lightly and let rest on floured surface for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Form dough on a baking sheet to desired shape and thickness. In Moldova, Sue’s research found the crust is typically very thick.
  • Let rest for 5 minutes.
  • Top with pizza sauce, fresh mozzarella and desired toppings. In Moldova, Sue’s research indicates toppings are typically pork sausage; we did half with spicy and  half with mild Italian pork sausage.
  • Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

 

Posted by in adventures in wine

Moldova: Bubbles, Red Blend, and …Pizza? Yes! 2020-09-24T13:55:06-04:00

Getting To Know The Wines of Moldova

2020-09-24T13:56:14-04:00

About Moldova

Moldova is a small landlocked country in the Black Sea Basin sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania.

Image courtesy of The Wine of Moldova

Although relatively small, Moldova ranks among the most significant wine regions of Eastern Europe. Its climate is well suited to viticulture, and archaeological evidence suggests that this has been the case for a millions of years. Fossils of Vitis teutonica vines dating back as far as 25 million years have been found around the northern Moldovan village of Naslavcia. Further evidence suggests that the indigenous peoples began using these grapes to make wine as early as 3000 BC according to WineSearcher.com.

Since it declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Moldova has been shifting upping its wine game. It has embraced in international approach to developing sustainable growth in new export markets. And Moldovan wine producers have shifted their focus to a quality over quantity mind set. There have been key capital investments in Moldovan wine including Australia’s Penfolds and HDR Wines of France. Dutch and German firms have also entered into joint-venture agreements with Moldovan wine producers.

Moldovan Wine By The Numbers

  • With 112,000 hectares of vineyards, The Republic of Moldova has the highest density of vineyards in the world
  • The vineyards are planted to 50 varieties of grapes. 10% of vineyards are planted to indigenous varieties including: Feteasca Alba, Feteasca Regala, Feteasca Neagra, Rara Neagra,etc.
  • 70% are white grape varieties, 30% are red grape varieties.
  • 86% of wine production is still wine and 14% is sparkling wines
  • Moldova has Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) wine regions:
    •  Codru
    • Valul lui Traian
    • Ștefan Vodă

Disclosure: I received these wines as a media samples. I received no compensation for this post, and all opinions presented are my own.

In My Glass And On My Plate

2018 Taking Root Blanc de Cabernet

When I read the label of the wine, I wondered which Cabernet was used to make this wine Sauvignon or Franc? Well, it turns out it made from Cabernet Sauvignon!

Tasting Note:

It’s a very pale straw color with white peach, melon, lemon zest and a hint of fresh cut bell pepper aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied, low-medium acidity and an appealing supple texture. It shows ripe white peach, apricot, yellow plum and a kiss of lemon peel flavors. It was wonderful paired with Pan Seared Halibut and Sauteed Zucchini and Yellow Squash with Parmesan!

2017 Gitana Winery Saperavi

Saperavi is a dark-skinned, pink-fleshed (teinturier) grape variety originally from the Georgian Republic.

Tasting Note:

The wine is an opaque carmine color with intriguing dried black and red cherry, juniper wildflower, black pepper aromas with a kiss of smoke. On the palate it’s medium-bodied with bright acidity and gauzy tannins. It offers an appealing combination of Kirsch and fresh black cherry, blackberry, a hint of cacao and savory spice flavors with a satisfying finish. I thoroughly enjoyed this charming wine. It was fantastic paired with Chicken Mole!

2015 Castel Mimi Rosu de Bulboaca

This wine is a great example of the use of international varieties in Moldova. It’s a blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. Raised for 12 months in French Oak barrels

Tasting Note:

The wine is an opaque dark ruby color with plum, blackberry, clove, cinnamon, cedar and subtle cassis and oak aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied with lively, medium acidity and a supple texture with velvety tannins. It offers generous fruit- forward, plum, blackberry confit, cassis and the aforementioned baking spice flavors. I don’t have to tell you how well this paired with a take-out Kobe Beef Burger from a local restaurant!

My overall impression of the wines I sampled is very favorable. They were all made in the fruit forward New World style and all offered terrific value. The wine are likely to be challenge to find, but I will certainly keep an eye out for them and you should too. I get the feeling we’ll continue to see Moldovan wine evolve in a positive way! Noroc! (that’s “cheers” in Romanian)

 

Written by: Martin D. Redmond

 

Getting To Know The Wines of Moldova 2020-09-24T13:56:14-04:00

Uncorking Moldova – Three Wines To Try Now

2020-09-24T13:45:36-04:00

We are uncorking Moldova.  Where is Moldova you ask?   In Eastern Europe, just north of the Black Sea, Moldova is nestled in between Ukraine & Romania.  This former Soviet state is rapidly becoming a prominent player in the world of wine.  The Moldavians take wine really seriously, according to their constitution, wine is recognized as food.  Wine is an integral part of the Moldavian culture.

The wines of Moldova may be new to me but Moldova has a rich and long history of winemaking. The history of wines in Moldova starts in 3000 BC, while the first vines were recorded here 7000 years BC. Ancient petrified grapes seeds and amphorae from 2800 BC have been excavated.

Moldova Wine Terroir

Landlocked Moldova has a unique topography with hills, plateaus, plains, rivers and streams.  Its moderate climate and influences from the sea, provide for a long growing season. Its terroir is ideal for grape growing.  An interesting fact is that Moldova is on the same latitude(46º-47º) as many other prominent wine regions, like Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne.

Moldova produces more wine per capita than any other country.  3.8% of the land or 112,000 hectares planted to vines.  There are 30 grape varieties that are cultivated in Moldova, with three main wine regions; Valul lui Traian (southwest), Stefan Voda (southeast), and Codru (central).

Moldova Grape Varieties

International varieties are a part of the viticulture of Moldova along with local indigenous grapes.  70 % are white varieties (Rkatsiteli, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Aligote) and 30% are red varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Saperavi).  Winemakers are talented, passionate and authentic, focusing on indigenous varieties like Feteasca Alba, Feteasca Regala, Feteasca Neagra, Rara Neagra, Plavai, Viorica, etc.

Wine is an integral part of daily life in Moldova, as is evident in their wine scene, in bars, restaurants, and most notably their incredible cellars.  Their colossal underground cellars are world-renowned and recognized by the Guinness. Wine cellars are also prominent in all homes.

Cricova Cellars

Moldovan Wines To Try Now

Cricova Blanc de Noirs Extra Brut

Cricova is the biggest and one of the most impressive wine cellars from Europe. Their history starts in 1952. The history of “Cricova” Winery became a part of the Moldovan national history because of being instrumental in a matter of development and assertion of the wine-growing sector inside the country, as well as spreading its fame abroad.

Their pride is a sparkling wine produced according to the French classic method -“Méthode Champenoise”, discovered by the reputable monk Dom Pierre Perignon and the remarkable still wines that are famous in the whole world.

Pinot Noir crafted based on the Methode Champenoise with second-in bottle fermentation for a minimum of 24 months. Elegant with fine bubbles, light yellow straw color, delicate aromas, fruitiness and fine minerality of the taste. Very balanced and light on the palate. Excellent on its own and a great companion to oysters, red or black caviar, cheeses and walnuts or almonds, but also pairs well with more complex dishes like pasta or risotto.

Viorica 2018

Traditionally, Viorica is a female name in Moldova, and also the traditional name for violets. This wine is called Viorica because it is made from the indigenous Moldovan grape by the same name. The wine has great fineness, opening up with primarily floral aromas, then evolves into remarkable flavors of muscat. It has rich tastes and medium body, with an elegant aftertaste of fresh grapes. It is well balanced with a well-defined taste of freshness.  It pairs perfectly with fish, white meat, and summer salads.

Chateau Vartely Indvido Saperavi 2017

According to the winemaking standards of the Old World and the New World, Château Vartely is a fairly young winery that has managed in a short period of time to become a company emblematic of its country.

A dry red wine, of the famous Georgian variety Saperavi, makes Individo Saperavi an appreciated wine. Bold and extractive, with elegant shades of oak, the wine wins you over with its fruity aroma of blackberries, cranberries and spicy notes. The wine is aged for 12 months in barrels.  This Saperavi pairs well with lamb kebabs, hard cheeses, and oyster mushrooms.

Written by: Rupal Shankar

Uncorking Moldova – Three Wines To Try Now 2020-09-24T13:45:36-04:00

Have You Tasted Wines from Moldova? Try These!

2020-09-24T13:41:12-04:00

Are you ready to sip a wine from a region so ancient and intriguing that it’s well on its way to being modern (again)? This month the #WinePW (Wine Pairing Weekend) crew, led by Jeff Burrows of Food, Wine, Click, are focusing their palates and research skills on the wines of Moldova and foods for pairing. (For my colleagues’ articles, see below.)

Moldova? That’s right. This small country of fewer than 4 million people is nestled in southeast Europe between Ukraine and Romania in the Black Sea Basin and has been producing wine for centuries. Its history begins in 3000 BC, although the first vines on record were around 7000 BC. Apparently, wine was used for bartering and as an award trophy after fights.

Moldova

Photo Credit: www.wineofmoldova.com

 

Moldova has one of the highest density of vineyards as a percentage of total land of any country in the world. They have a long history of producing wine and were well known in prior centuries in the courts of both Russia and England. During the Soviet era, Moldova became a part of the Soviet Union and all privately owned land and companies were taken over by the state. Production was shifted to serve the workers, so quantity was emphasized and quality was not a major consideration. With the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Moldova’s vineyards and wineries were returned to private ownership, but it was a long, difficult road back to prosperity.

Today, Moldova’s wines have returned to earn a place in the international wine scene. In 2013, Moldova’s National Office of Wine and Vine and the partner wineries took on the challenge of establishing European approved protected geographical indications (PGI) labeling for the three major wine regions. Now there are plenty of IGT labeled wines available, with efforts now to establish Designated Origin (DO) labeling as approved by European authorities. Jeff Burrows in Could Moldova Be Your Next Wine Destination?

Moldova has a landscape of low hills, sunny plateaus and plains, and a fair number of streams that flow into the rivers, Prut and Dniester. The climate is moderately continental and is influenced by its location near the Black Sea. Thanks to its latitude of 46-47 degrees, Moldova is well suited for the production of quality red wines and in the central part of the country, white wines are dominant.

Moldova
Over 50 types of varieties are cultivated in the 112,000 hectares. About 70% of grapes in the Codru zone in the center of Moldova are white and include Rkatsiteli, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Aligote and more. In the southern regions of Valul lui Traian (southwest) and Stefan Voda (southeast), 30% are red. Cultivated are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Saperavi and more. 30% of the total number of vineyards produce wines with intense aromatics.

Moldova

Rara Neagra – Photo Credit: Chateau Purcari

Indigenous varieties account for only 10% of the vineyards and express the “authenticity and uniqueness of Moldovan wines.” Native grapes are Feteasca Alba, Feteasca Regala, Feteasca Neagra, Rara Neagra, Plavai, Viorica and more. For fascinating information about the history, unique characteristics of the vineyards, winemaking practices and beyond, please visit the Wine of Moldova website here.

The wines of Moldova may be difficult to locate in the United States, but once you do, it’s worth the effort. I was sent three wines as samples and have been impressed with my first journey to this ancient country via my palate. Each winery has a special story and I encourage you to visit their websites linked below.

*310 Altitudine 2019 ($17.99) from Fautor Winery was as flavorful as it was refreshing. Of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Feteasca Regala, notes of lime zest, yellow florals and stone fruit including white peaches were prevalent on the nose and palate. The finish lingered on this balanced, full-bodied wine. Pair with a bountiful salad, rich appetizers, a favorite pasta dish or seafood with a white sauce or a luscious soup. (Of note is that Feteasca Regala was created in the 1930s in Romania and is a cross of Grasa and Feteasca alba varieties.)

The winery and vineyards are located in the Tigheci microzone, part of Valul lui Traian in the southern area of Moldova. Between 2003 and 2006, Fautor Winery embraced advanced technology and new vineyards were planted. Under vine is now 350 hectares. In 2017, 2018 and 2019, Fautor Winery was the most awarded Moldovan winery and everyone are proud of their “unique portfolio of rare varieties and world exclusive blends.”

moldova
Following are two wines of 100% Rara Neagra, a red variety that’s cultivated in the south of Moldova and in Romania where it’s the second most widely planted grape. It’s also known as Babeasca neagra, meaning “grandmother’s black.” In general, wines of this variety offer a lighter body, moderate acidity, soft tannins and plenty of fruit.

From Gitana Winery, Rara Neagra 2018 ($22.99) is a lovely selection with delightful aromas of red berries, strawberries, raspberries and hint of pomegranate. On the creamy palate, intense flavors included an abundance of dried red and purple fruit, oak and touch of brioche. The wine was stored in large oak barrels from Krasnnodar for two years, then bottled in May 2020. Pair with pork or veal cutlets, a hearty stew or your favorite grilled dishes. 

The history of family-owned Gitana Winery began in 1953 and by all accounts, their legacy continues. By 2017, the wines entered the Asian markets with exports to Japan, China and South Korea. That year also heralded the Autograph brand that includes Feasca Regala, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot. In 2018, the winery announced the launch of three wines from the Young, White, Pink and Red Gitana brand. The family stated, “A family business represents longevity and steadfastness, things that are directly reflected in the work you do. Gitana wines are not just wine, but an inheritance, the fruit of a hard work that led to a flawless story.”

moldova
A luscious pairing with my sizzling shish kabobs was 1827 Rara Neagra de Purcari 2018 ($39.99) from Chateau Purcari. On the nose, aromas of pomegranate, milk chocolate and dark, juicy plums wafted from the glass. The broad, complex palate offered notes of vanilla, dried fruit compote, wood shavings and ripe red berries. The finish lingered with notes of oak and fruit… Aged for six months in French oak, grapes were harvested and selected by hand using traditional methods.

Purcari Winery has cellars constructed towards the end of the 19th century. Built in the style of a manor house where temperatures and humidity are consistent, the Purcari Vinotheque has the “best wines, where the prices start from $100 per bottle.” The oldest in the collection is from 1951.

moldova

As you may expect, foods from Moldova include those consistent with many Eastern European countries. Inspiration is derived from the cuisines of Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Greece and beyond. The menu of choices is rife with meat, potatoes and vegetables and of late, foods from Western countries can be seen on the table. For pairing with the wines above, I chose a traditional shish kebob recipe, but if you’re enticed by intriguing, more classic Moldovan dishes to try, click here.

moldova
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Have You Tasted Wines from Moldova? Try These! 2020-09-24T13:41:12-04:00

Discovering Wines of Moldova

2020-09-24T13:29:33-04:00

As the plane descended into the Chișinău airport, capital of Moldova, I knew an experience like no other awaited me. Upon disembarking, I was greeted with a warm welcome and a bottle of wine. In that moment, Moldova promised to be a fun adventure.

Moldova is both the smallest and poorest country in modern Europe. The Chișinău landscape is dotted with dull, crumbling, off-white, cinder-block buildings I had only witnessed once prior – in Cuba. Soviet housing, a worn out sign of days gone by, and jarring pot-hole filled roads display lingering communist deprivation.

Moldovan vineyards are still recovering from decades of Soviet emphasis on low-quality, high production wines. Viticulture is evolving, but after years of collectivization, progress is slow.

Wine of Moldova strives to elevate Moldovan wine practices through education, international tastings, funding travel of winemakers to and from Moldova, supporting the Moldovan Sommelier Association, and hosting an annual wine festival.

Not knowing what to expect, I was surprised the Moldovan cuisine includes so many vegetables. Of course, the plăcintă, served stuffed with potatoes, cheese, cabbage, or fruit took the prize for deliciousness.

While wine production from international grapes remains high, some wineries emphasize recovering the indigenous grapes of the region.

Moldova’s indigenous white grapes include the ancient Fetească Albă, offering delicate floral notes in a light and fresh body, and the semi-aromatic Fetească Regală, with floral, citrus, and orchard elements in a full-bodied, textural wine.

Native red grapes include Fetească Neagră, full of dark berries and spice, with smooth tannins, and the ancient Rara Neagră, with hints of fresh and dried fruit, spice, and vanilla with a soft mouth-feel. Whether crafted in a blend, or single variety, each of these grapes holds something familiar, yet unique.

My week in Moldova last fall was educational, eye-opening, and insightful. The people are warm, hospitable, and full of life. As they continue to work hard at overcoming their Soviet past, they welcome tourists, a key component to economic vitality.

The U.S. comprises only 2.5% of their wine exports – locating Moldovan wines poses a challenge, but a new discovery and broadening wine experience is worth the effort.

Written by: Rockin red blog

Discovering Wines of Moldova 2020-09-24T13:29:33-04:00

Savory Cheese Crostata Paired with Moldovan Wines

2020-09-24T13:22:41-04:00

Savory Cheese Crostata Paired with Moldovan Wines

 

Savory Cheese Crostata

Wine Adventure anyone? Ever hear of Moldova? Moldova is located between Romania and Ukraine in Eastern Europe. The country has a rich and long wine history, the first known grapevines dating back to 7000 BC and winemaking around 3000 BC. It has the highest density of vineyards globally, with plantings of international and indigenous grape varieties.  Some of the world’s largest wine cellars are in Moldova, including the cellars at Milestii Mici – registered in the Guinness Book of World Records with over 1.5 million bottles of wine. What better way to explore Moldovan wines than to taste and pair them with a savory cheese crostata.

This month the Wine Pairing Weekend group is traveling virtually to Moldova. Jeff from FoodWineClick is our host and arranged for wine samples from Wine of Moldova. Don’t miss more adventures on Moldovan wines from the group at the end of this post. And join us for our Moldovan wine chat on Twitter, Saturday, July 11th at 11:00 AM ET using hashtag #winepw to follow the conversation.

Fast Facts About Moldova’s Wine Industry

  • In 1812 Moldova became part of the Russian Empire. The wine industry flourished until phylloxera hit at the end of the 19th century. The Moldovan wine was further damaged with two World Wars.
  • Under the Soviet Union in the 1950s, vineyards were re-established, and inexpensive bulk wines were produced for the Soviet market.
  • With the fall of communism in 1991,  Moldova gained its independence from the Soviet Union.
  • In 2006 Russia accounted for 80% of Moldova’s wine exports. The relationship ended in 2006 when Russia imposed an embargo on Moldovan wines and again in 2013.
  • After the two Russian embargo’s, Moldova’s wine industry pivoted, seeking new export markets and producing wines of quality vs. quantity.
  • Today Moldovan wines are sold in 63 countries with the majority exported to the European Union markets.
  • There are 128,000 hectares (316,295 acres) of total vineyards.
  • Grape varieties are 85% European, 10% Black Sea Basin, and 5% Local
  • 70% are white varieties such as; Rkatsiteli, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Aligoté
  • 30% are red varieties such as; Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Saperavi
  • Local varieties include; Rara, Neagra, Feteasca Neagra, Feteasca Alba, and Viorica
  • There are three Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) Moldovan Wine Regions; Codru, Valul lui Traian, and Stefan Voda
Moldova Wine Regions

Map via Wine of Moldova

Sources:
Wine of Moldova, Exotic Wine Travel

Tasting Notes

Moldovan Wines

Disclosure: the wines were provided as media samples. All opinions are my own.

2018 Fáutor 310 Altitudine Chardonnay/ Feteasca Regala, Moldova
13.3% abv | $18.00 Vinovations (sample) | 60% Chardonnay, 40% Feteasca Regala
Fautor Winery

Pale lemon-green in color. Aromas of lime zest, nectarine, blossom, and wet stone. On the palate, dry, with medium body and medium (+) acidity. Refreshing flavor notes of lime, white grapefruit, and wetstone. A round smooth mouth feel with a lingering lime finish.

2018 Gogu Blanc de Merlot, Moldova
13% abv | $20.00 Vinovations (sample) | Merlot
Gogu Winery

Pale yellow in color. Aromas of white cherries, rose hips, lemongrass, and bell pepper. On the palate, dry with medium body and medium(+) acidity. Flavor notes of white cherries, apricots, bell peppers, and minerals with a medium finish.

2018 Purcari Rara Neagra de Purcari, Moldova
13.5% abv | $30.00 Vinovations (sample) | 100% Rara Neagra
Purcari Chateau

Medium ruby in color. Pronounced aromas of violet, plum, toast, vanilla, and sweet cherries. On the palate, dry with medium(+) body, medium(-) tannins, and medium acidity. Flavor notes of ripe plum, cherries, and vanilla. 

Savory Cheese Crostata Paired with Moldovan Wines

Savory Cheese Crostata Paired with Moldovan Wines

The cheese crostata was a perfect appetizer to pair with the three Moldovan wines. The crisp acidity of the two white wines cleansed the palate from the rich cheese of the crostata. While the overall weight of the wine and crostata were in balance.  The red wine was a match for the crostata’s earthy leeks, kale, and swiss chard. The wine’s smooth tannins mirrored the luxurious texture of the cheese.

Savory Cheese Crostata Paired with Moldovan Wines 2020-09-24T13:22:41-04:00

A Look into the Wines of Moldova

2020-09-24T13:13:49-04:00

This month’s focus for our Wine Pairing Weekend event takes us to Moldova.  Sadly I had to look up where Moldova was located.  I knew it was somewhere in Eastern Europe and discovered it is located between Romania and the Ukraine, right off of the Black Sea.  Wine really is made everywhere isn’t it.  What was even more shocking is that this was even my first time trying wine from Moldova.  The first record of winemaking there was 3,000 B.C., but since 7000 B.C. wine was used as a reward after fights or exchanged with other items. 

The majority of the wine produced in Moldova is still with about 14% produced as sparkling.  White wines rule the majority at about 70% mostly concentrated in the wine region of Codru.  The rest are red wines that can be found in both central and southern Moldova.  The vitis vinifera vines rule the production with only about 10% being native grapes. 

Moldova has 3 main wine regions including:

  • Valul lui Traian (SouthWest)
  • Codru (Central) 
  • Stefan Voda (SouthEast)

I learned lots of fun facts in my research including that Moldova holds the Guiness record in 2005 for hosting the biggest wine collection, known as the “Golden Collection”.  It is located underground in the Milestii Mici containing 1.5 million bottles with the oldest only being since 1969.  Moldova also has the greatest density of vineyards in the world occupying 3.8% of the territory per Wines of Moldova.

Copyright of Wines of Moldova

The Wines & Wineries 

I received samples from 3 wineries including some local grapes as well as international grapes.   

Chateau VartelyVartely translates to a place of fortress.  The winery is rather newer to the seen established in 2004 located within both the Codru wine region and Valul lui Traian in the Bugeac in southern Maldova.  Their grapes are grown on about 740 acres.  The winery opened themselves up to guests in 2008 at a few villas they have on site. 

I tasted the 2017 Chateau Vartely Feteasca Regala Codru IGP.  Made 100% from the local Feteasca Regala grape.  Straw yellow in color.  Beautiful aromatics of peach and apricots.  A refreshing wine with nice acidity and slight minerality.  With an SRP of $16 this wine is a great value.  13% ABV  

Pairing: I paired this wine with a chicken and broccoli sauté over jasmine rice.  A delightful pairing and complement to one another.

Radicini Winery – This winery is one of the brands under an overarching holding company located in the Codru wine region.  I tasted the 2018 Radicini blend of Saperavi, Merlot and Feteasca Neagra.  Dark ruby with purple highlights.  Medium in body with dense fruit with blackberries and black cherry.  Hints of white pepper with spice.  SRP $20

Gitana Winery – Located within the Valul lui Traian wine region in the two villages of Filipeni and Romanovca of the Leova district.  The Dulgher family purchased the winery in 1999, but the original winery under the name of the Tiganca Winery was established in 1953.  The Gitana brand was created in 2009.  In 2002 the family planted their own vineyards 70km from the Tiganca Winery on hills about 150-200 meters above sea level near the forest.  The family owns almost 900 acres.  I sampled the 2016 Gitana Lupi Rezerva Red, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Saperavi.  This wine was the first blend created in 2012.  Aged for 2 years in big Slavonian oak barrels and an additional 4-6 months in barrique.  Dark ruby in color with aromas of ripe raspberries both on the nose and palette.  I got a little bit of warmth from the higher alcohol.  Supple, silky tannins with sweet vanilla from the oak on the finish.  SRP $35 ABV 14.5% 

Pairing: I paired both of these reds with grilled steak tips, roasted potatoes, butternut squash with a side salad.  My personal preference was the Gitana Lupi.  I felt the flavors were more layered and concentrated, which I appreciated with the flavors of the steak.   

Don’t stop learning about wines from Moldova. 

A Look into the Wines of Moldova 2020-09-24T13:13:49-04:00