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.
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).
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!
Written by: Jill at L’Occasion