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Celebrating Moldova National Wine Day with More Food and Wine Explorations


Earlier this year I got the chance to explore the wines of Moldova for the first time. It was a lot of fun trying new grapes and dishes I loved. This weekend marked Moldova National Wine Day (Oct 3rd and 4th this year) and I had the chance to celebrate at home with a few more wines from this Eastern European country.

Photo courtesy of Wine of Moldova. A national wine day celebration on a typical year. This year, of course, celebrations will be held at home.

I decided to choose two new recipes and try them with two of the bottles I received as samples.  For more background on Moldova and its wine history, I invite you to check out my post from earlier this year, so that we can just get right down the wine and food today.

Photo courtesy of Wine of Moldova.

Note: These bottles in today’s post were received as samples. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.


There are few grapes in these wines you might not recognize –– the first two are new to me too –– so let’s get to know them real quick.

Feteasca Alba

This variety has been cultivated for centuries in this region and appears to be a very ancient grape. It makes fine, delicate wines with floral aromas with stone fruit and tropical notes with a fairly light body. It’s used to make sparkling, dry, and sweet wines. This is one of three “maiden” grapes, as that’s the meaning of the word Feteasca.  Feteasca Alba is the “white maiden.” (It’s also one of the parents of Feteasca Regal, the “royal maiden,” which we got to know last time.)

Feteasca Neagra

The third maiden in the trio is the Black Maiden. It’s over 2000 years old and probably originated around the Prut river valley in southwestern Moldova. It is capable of producing high-quality reds, with typical aromas of wild cherry and violets, concentrated berry fruit, and good structure. It can be found in dry, semi-dry, and sweet styles. This grape also has lots of anthocyanins, which are antioxidants, which basically makes this health food of course.


Saperavi is a dark-skinned, pink-fleshed grape variety originally from Georgia (the country) and its been gaining in popularity here for the last few years. It’s a teinturier grape, which means that the juice and flesh are also tinted red in addition to the skin – which is pretty rare. It does well and is grown throughout Eastern Europe. You can probably guess that it has lots of color, it’s also got lots of acidity and tannin. You expect flavors of dark berries, cherries, smoke, leather, spices, and tobacco.



I opened one white bottle and one red to try this weekend with two dishes selected.

Castel Mimi Feteasca Alba Codru 2018

Blend: 100% Feteasca Alba | $18.99 | 13.% Alc

Castel Mimi was founded in 1893 by Constantin Mimi, a politician who went on to dedicate his life to wine. He decided to apply what he’d learned of  winemaking on his travels through Western Europe, planted vine cuttings at his own estate near the village of Bulboaca, and thus created the first chateau in Moldova. In 1940 Castel Mimi became state property and was later turned into an industrial wine factory during Soviet rule. While the wine factory remained in use and was expanded, the chateau was largely inactive for fifty years. However, in 2011 an ambitious restoration project was launched to renovate the mansion and its original facade has now been completely restored. The winery’s tourist area is open to guests and includes a royal courtyard with gardens, a grand square with dancing fountains, an events hall, a spa, a swimming pool, and a  a summer terrace and picnic areas. You can even stay overnight in one of seven chalet-style cottages.

Tasting note: White peach, lots of blooming flowers, light fresh herbs, and a mix of lemon and grapefruit hit on the nose and continued on the palate. The wine’s texture was light, but round in the middle, following through to a crisp finish accented by light minerality and bright acidity.

Radacini Ampre Saperavi, Feteasca Neagra, Merlot 2018

Blend: 70% Saperavi, 20% Feteasca Neagra, 10%  Merlot  | $19.99  | 13% Alc.

Sadly, I couldn’t find out much about Radacini other than that it’s a about a decade old.

Tasting notes: Warm fruit sauce of spiced cherries, raspberries, and plums hit on the nose with a touch of cinnamon. The warmth is still there on the palate, but it’s combined with more tart notes of sour cherry and pomegranates mixed with a little tobacco and tea leaf. It was medium-bodied, with lots of acidity, and tannins that gripped but came to a silky finish.


Moldova and Romania share quite a bit of history, food, and culture, so like last time I looked to the cuisines of both for inspiration.

Mamaliga with Mushrooms

I kept coming across mamaliga as a favorite dish in Moldova. It’s very similar to Italian-style polenta, and I love polenta, so this was an easy choice. I found this recipe for Mamaliga with Shiitake Mushrooms on a blog called Maya’s Kitchen. The mushrooms are seasoned with nutmeg, which is a different flavor route than I typically go with them, but it sounded warm and inviting in autumnal way. It was!

I followed the recipe pretty much as presented other than these minor changes:

  • I used polenta instead of cornmeal. Most recipes I looked at for mamaliga called for polenta, so I don’t see this a big change. (See this article from the Kitchn for the technical differences.)
  • I swapped in chicken stock for the bouillon and water.
  • I used half Shiitake and half cremini mushrooms to save a few bucks.
  • We had some leftover dry salami, so I chopped it up and tossed it in for extra meatiness. It’s not necessary at all, but an easy way to use up protein leftovers if you have some hanging around.
  • I’d read in several places that Mamaliga is often served with sour cream. I love sour cream, so I served some on the side.

How The Wines Paired

The red blend was the hands-down winner. The flavors matched together perfectly; in particular, the nutmeg in the dish brought out the spice notes in the wine in a beautiful way. The wine got deeper and more velvety in the combo. A seamless match.

The Feteasca Alba didn’t clash, but the combo was just ok. The wine was refreshing, but didn’t improve in the match. Greg noted that the food took the stuffing out of the wine a bit. I found that didn’t happen as much when a little bit of the sour cream was involved.


A quick update/addition: The leftovers of this dish made a delicious, cozy brunch when topped with an egg. All kinds of yum!

Oven-Baked Pearl Barley Pilaf with Chicken and Mushrooms

I found this recipe for Oven-Baked Pearl Barley Pilaf with Chicken and Mushrooms from Olive Magazine out of Carpathia: Food from the heart of Romania by Irina Georgescu, which sounded like a flavorful one-pot meal. I made only a few minor changes, but since the recipe is written for a British audience, I’ve adapted it here using ounces and pounds, etc.

How The Wines Paired

This was a much closer competition between the two wines, although I ultimately preferred the refreshing white wine in this case. I thought the match also helped further round out the mid-palate of the wine and gave it a little more flesh. Greg, on the other hand, forgot to pay attention this round and happily sipped away at the red wine while we watched a movie with dinner. I thought the red was quite nice too, but the tannin fought a bit with the chicken, although in a very minor way.

Servings: 4 to 6

By: Nicole Ruiz Hudson, adapted from recipe by Irina Georgescu on OliveMagazine.com .
Oven-Baked Pearl Barley Pilaf with Chicken and Mushrooms

Oven-Baked Pearl Barley Pilaf with Chicken and Mushrooms

Prep Time: 20 MinCooking Time: 90 MinTotal Time: 1 H & 49 M


  • 1 whole chicken, divided into 8 pieces
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 8 oz package, pearl barley
  • 3 celery sticks, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 8 to 10 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 16 oz chicken stock
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • flat-leaf parsley a small bunch, roughly chopped (optional)
  • Cooking oil
  • Salt, 2 tsp or to taste
  • Pepper, 1 tsp, or to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large oven-safe pan or Dutch oven, heat the oil and brown the chicken pieces on all sides until well-browned. Transfer to a plate. In the same oil, cook the onions for 10 minutes over medium heat until they begin to char. Add the pearl barley and coat the grains well with the oil, and cook for a few more minutes.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes, mushrooms, stock, season with salt and pepper, and stir gently. Add the dark-skin pieces of chicken back in, then cover the pan.
  4. Put the Dutch oven in the oven. After 10 to 15 minutes, add the light-skin chicken pieces to the pan. Continue to cook for another 30 to 35 min, then uncover the pot and cook for another 10 minutes or until the barley is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Roughly chop the butter and dot the pieces around over the top.
  5. Remove the pot from the oven, taste, and adjust seasoning as needed. Sprinkle with parsley, if using, and serve.
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Posted by Nicole from Somms Table
Celebrating Moldova National Wine Day with More Food and Wine Explorations 2020-10-30T16:08:57-04:00

Meatless Moldovan Food and Wine


The first weekend in October is National Moldovan Wine Day. Celebrate this oft overlooked and underrated wine country with savory vegan foods.

Disclosure: The wines featured in this post were provided by Wine of Moldova. All opinions are my own.

Ancient wine making tradition

2 Moldovan maps, 1 Moldovan flag and 1 castle photo
Moldova is nestled in between Ukraine and Romania in eastern Europe. As of 2020, they have a population of 4 million, and their native language is Moldovan. According to Britannica, the country’s greatest resources are its fertile soil and climate and more than half their land is arable lending to a rich winemaking landscape.

For a tiny country you may have never heard of in Eastern Europe, Moldova has a rich wine making history that dates back to 3000 BC.

I had previously tried pairing Moldovan wines with Burmese cuisine, however for this edition I thought I would try traditional and vegan friendly fare.

Traditional Moldovan Foods

A search on Amazon yielded few Moldovan cookbooks published in English. Therefore, to learn more about the cuisine, I referenced this Peace Corp’s volunteer’s remembrance of foods she ate while serving in the country.

#1 Placinta – stuffed pastry pies

4 pictures showing the process of making placinta

Pronounced pla-chin-ta, these are a common to go snack consisting of fried bread stuffed with cabbage, potatoes, or homemade cheese known as brinza.

#2 Mamaliga – wet cornbread

Similar to polenta, this is a traditional peasant dish made with water, salt, and cornmeal.

It is common accompaniment at the dinner table and can be served hot like porridge or baked into a moist, sliceable dome and served at room temperature.

#3 Sarmale – stuffed cabbage or peppers

round plate of stuffed cabbage rolls with tomato sauce

Pronounced sar-moll-ayy, these are the cozy little bundles of cabbage or stuffed cabbage rolls or bell pepper baked in oil and stuffed with rice and vegetables.

Moldovan wine pairings

For my version inspired by the three classic Moldovan dishes above, I paired the following vegan dishes with three Moldovan wines.

  • Cabbage rolls stuffed with lentils and brown rice and baked in a rich, wood fired tomato sauce
  • Cornmeal fried yukon gold potatoes
  • Thyme and red wine roasted mushrooms
  • Vegetable stuffed and steamed dumplings

The Winning White Wine

Feteascan alba wine bottle and glass with red flowers in the background
The 2018 Feteasca Alba from Castel Mimi is a fresh white wine with no oak but packs a punch with 13% alcohol.

Of the three Moldovan wines I tried, the Feteasca Alba proved to be the most versatile and food friendly for my vegetable dishes.

On its own, it made my mouth pucker with almost cloying acidity of fresh cut green apples, back of the mouth honeydew sweetness, and bitterness of lime zest and lemon pith.

With food though, it softened considerably and provided just the right touch and weight to balance the sweetness of the tomato sauce and savoriness of the lentil stuffed cabbage rolls.

I also tried this wine with a Hyderabadi vegetable curry topped with dried apricots and a fresh heirloom tomato salsa with blue corn chips. The acidity in the wine held up so pleasantly to a rich Indian curry and still summer ripe, juicy tomatoes.

As for the two Moldovan red wines I tried, they had a nice balance of acid and richness that didn’t quite match with my vegetables, but I would happily enjoy on their own.

The Red Fleshed Red Wine

Molodavn saperavi red wine and glass with 3 plates of food
The 2018 Radacini red wine blend is made from hand harvested grapes: 70% Saperavi, 20% Feteasca Neagra, and 10% Merlot.

Saperavi is one of the few red wine grapes that also has red flesh inside of it instead of white flesh.

The result is a rich, inky dark purple wine. Whereas a New World expression of this grape might have more oak and fruit character, the Radacini version from Moldova still has bright acidity, juicy blackberry notes, and oak aging for just 3 months.

A Moldovan Cabernet Sauvignon

Moldovan cabernet sauvignon blend wine bottle and glass
The 2015 Rosu de Purcari is made from 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, and 15% Malbec grapes. Aged for 18 months in French oak barriques, the winemaker recommends decanting for 30 minutes prior to serving.

The cabernet sauvignon blend from Rosu de Purcari turned out to be quite the kind of armchair travel one needs in a Covid restricted world.

Curl up with a cozy glass of this velvet textured, dark plum and cocoa dusted wine with a silky finish.

It paired quite nicely with a gas fireplace and smoke from the the real life wildfires raging in nearby Napa and Sonoma counties.

The wines from this small country of Moldova reminded me of quaint towns and green pastures we would all like to escape to someday. In the meantime, we can taste their essence, captured in these bottles, to be enjoyed everyday.

3 moldovan wines with red dahlias in the back



Posted by Deanna at Asian Test Kitchen

Meatless Moldovan Food and Wine 2020-10-30T16:02:52-04:00

Meet Moldova: 2018 Purcari 1827 Rară Neagră de Purcari Vin Sec Rosu Paired with Pasta


In 2020, much is on my radar that was not in 2019.

Much of it bad.

But like the Wines of Moldova which we first tasted and wrote about in July, some of it is good.

In fact very good!

And because we now live in a virtual world there are more opportunities to learn than ever before about smaller less well known wine regions of the world.

Like Moldova which is celebrating Moldova Wine Day today, October 3 and tomorrow, October 4, with webinars, twitter chats and more (see below).

So where is Moldova and why do you need to get these grapes in your glass?

Tiny landlocked Moldova, once part of the Soviet Union and today embraced by Ukraine and Romania, is in the same latitude at Bordeaux– the 45th. The eleventh largest producer of wine in Europe, in 2014 Moldova was the twentieth largest wine producing country in the world. Most of these bottles of wine went to Russia and Romania, with very few getting to the US.

The massive Black Sea nearby moderates the climate making it suitable for wine grapes and the fossil record shows grape growing in Moldova 6-15 million year ago, with wine grapes cultivated way back in  2800 BC.

Winemaking began in Moldova 4-5000 years ago: one of the world’s oldest winemaking regions. It has the highest density of vines to arable land of anywhere in the world, and 15% of the country’s population is engaged in the business of wine.

Visiting Moldova may not have been on the radar in 2019 either — but it should be now! Like many former Eastern block countries, it offers great values to the traveller, and it’s not swarming with tourists– yet.

And you already know there’s WINE.

In fact, to assist the development of wine tourism, the “Wine Routes of Moldova” offers a network of three routes that take you deep into the three historic wine regions– Codru, Valul lui Traian and Stefan Voda– from the capital, Chişinău.  The routes map cultural and adventure corridors with festival, events, and key points of interests such as B&Bs, fortresses, monasteries, nature reserves, archaeological sites as well as discovering the small wineries that abound in the countryside.

These well signed routes pair travelers with places and provide ideas for itineraries to established and emerging wineries.

Three Routes:

The Valul lui Traian PGI Wine Route

  • Chişinău south-west toward the Danube River.
  • Red varieties
  • Passes through Moldova’s autonomous Gagauzia territory with Turkish ties and diverse gastronomy.

The Stefan Voda PGI Wine Route

  • Chişinău south-east along the Ukranian border near the Black Sea.

The Codru PGI Wine Route

  • whites, reds, and sparkling wine
  • the largest number of wineries
  • the largest and most respected vineyards

Most of the wine made is of the “international varieties” that most people are familiar with; for example I wrote about blend of merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in July.

But if you search, you’ll find one of the wines made from the 10% of the vineyards planted with varieties native to Moldova or Romania — we wrote about a sparkling wine in July made from Fetească Albă, a white grape native to the region that’s used primarily for sparkling wine. About 2200 acres of this grape is grown in Moldova.

image from wikipedia entry on Rară Neagră

And as of last night, I am newly enamored by the Rară Neagră grape, a Romanian variety (known there as babeasca neagra). Susceptible to mildew, drought, and botrytis, it can handle the climate of the region with extremely low temperatures; average temperatures in the three major cities in January are around freezing during the day with mild summers averaging around 80 during the day and 60 at night.

Read more about these indigenous grapes here.


2018 Purcari Chateau  1827 Rară Neagră de Purcari Vin Sec Rosu
13.5% ABV; SRP $22 on 1000 Corks; sample

Founded in 1827,  Purcari’s red flagship Negru de Purcari won a gold medal at the Paris World Exposition fifty years later. With phylloxera destroying the wine industry in Europe, wines from Moldova flourished until it arrived there much later. Under Soviet rule, the winery was destroyed, and they subsequently rebuilt. Surrounded by forest, the rich biodiversity protects the vineyards so herbicides are not necessary for the grapes used in the two million bottles of wine they produce each year.

At the French style Chateau, visitors can find a hotel, restaurant, terrace, and activities including  tours, wine tasting, exploration of the vineyards by bicycle or car, hydro-bike rides on the lake among the swans, tennis, and a playground.

The hotel includes a range of accommodations including staying in a. barrique! Nightly for around $125. Definitely on my to do list! 

  • Color: Ruby-garnet with purple lights.
  • Nose: Fun fruitiness but balanced, raspberry, cherry cola.
  • Palate: Bright fresh tart fruit — raspberry, rhubarb, cherry cola, and plum. Light bodied with integrated oak, soft tannins. Tons of lively acidity.
  • Pairing: Great with sausage and mushroom pizza, fantastic with a tomato meat sauce with tomato ravioli. Flourishes with food. Loves tomatoes– acid meets acid.

Overall from my first sip to my final one I was pleased far beyond my expectation. The following day, thinking about how much I love Pinot Noir and Gamay with pate, I paired it while I finished writing this up. This is a great picnic wine and might be an interesting option for Thanksgiving meals for turkey or ham.



Posted by Gwendolyn from Wine Predator

Meet Moldova: 2018 Purcari 1827 Rară Neagră de Purcari Vin Sec Rosu Paired with Pasta 2020-10-30T16:11:57-04:00

Celebrating Moldova National Wine Day with Chinese Food


The Moldova National Wine Day #MoldovaWineDay falls on the third and fourth of October 2020. To celebrate the special day, #WorldWineTravel bloggers, such as our host Lynn Gowdy from Savor the Harvest, are tasting the wines from Moldova – a country that has rich winemaking history dating back to around 3000BC. While the wines from Moldova are impressive, the wineries there are no doubt one of the main drivers of tourism.


While wines in Moldova are impressive and are treasured all over the world, the magnificent Moldovan wineries are a great part of attraction of the tourist dollars, developing the country’s tourism. Being the world’s largest wine cellars, these wineries were established in former limestone quarries with more than 200 kilometers of tunnels which can be driven through. For example, Mileștii Mici winery has Gothic-style galleries, which go undergroud at a depth of 80 meters, that collect more than 1.5 million bottles of wine and are famously registered in the Guinness Book of World Records for holding the largest wine collection in the world.

The 2021 Milestii Mici Wine Run will be held on February 7th, 2021
(Photo Credit: https://milesti.winerun.md/en/)

Another symbol of Moldovan winemaking is the underground wine city of Cricova, which has galleries stretching over 70 kilometers. It was founded in 1952 and is Moldova’s biggest sparkling wine producer. Cricova is also home to Moldova’s national wine collection, which features a number of historic wines including old vintages of Moselle, Bourgogne, Bordeaux and Port. The oldest bottle in the collection, and the only one of its kind in the world, is the wine known as Easter Jerusalem, which was produced in just a single batch in 1902.

Cricova has the oldest vintages of Moselle, Bourgogne, Bordeaux and Port from Moldova.

Other stunning wineries that wine lovers should visit include Castel Mimi and Purcari Chateau, where tour packages are available.

Castel Mimi is a jewel of Moldovan Wine Tourism, attracting tourists with exceptional wines and food. (Photo Credit: Castel Mimi)


Nestled between the Dniester River and the Black Sea, Purcari Chateau presents not only world class wines but also a breath-taking view (Photo Credit: Purcari Chateau)


Feteasca Alba is a grape variety that is grown widely in parts of Eastern Europe, most notably Romania but also in Moldova, Hungary, Bulgaria and Ukraine.

Feteasca Alba 2018 White Dry Wine and Steamed Whole Fish

Feteasca Alba 2018 White Dry Wine (sample, $19 SRP) is produced by Castel Mimi, the first chateau in Moldova, which was built by Constantin Mimi, a pioneer wine maker. He applied the winemaking techniques that he acquired from the western Europe and implemented new technologies, produced great wines and raised the standards.

Tasting notes: light, elegant, expressive citrus flavors at the beginning, and stone fruit notes gradually – a refresher that especially pairs well with fresh seafood.

Chinese Food pairing: Steamed whole fish with julienne ginger and scallion, drizzled with hot oil

Rosu De Purcari 2015 is a blend of 50% Cabernet-Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 10% Malbec.


Rosu De Purcari 2015 and Cantonese Braised Beef with Radish

Rosu De Purcari 2015 (sample, $19 SRP) is one of the most popular wines at Purcari Chateau. In 1827, Emperor of Russia Nicholas I issued a special decree granting Purcari the status of the first specialized winery in Bessarabia. Since then, the owners of Purcari have become Moldovan boyars Dancila and Clot. The last decade of Purcari’s almost two centuries has seen the winery reach its most advanced stage of its development. With the vineyards planted in 2003 reaching maturity, the quality of the grapes has improved significantly.

Tasting notes: oaky on the nose, noticeable notes of warm spices, chocolate, forest herb, complex, deep – a red wine lover’s dream.

Chinese Food pairing: Cantonese Instant Pot Braised Beef with Radish

Viorica, which is a symbol of Moldovan white wines, is an indigenous grape variety from the Country.

Suvorov-Vin Viorica, Moldova 2018 and Sweet and Sour Chicken

Suvorov-Vin Viorica, Moldova 2018 (sample, $18 SRP) is produced by Suvorov Vin, which is the holding company that includes two wine companies “Suvorov – Vin” and “Kazayak – Vin”. They own around 500 hectares of vineyards located in the southern part of Moldova, where the climate is perfect for quality grapes cultivation.

Tasting notes: passionate fruit, mango, creamy, mild acidity but still dry – a charming white wine that pairs well with slightly sweet Asian food.

Chinese Food pairing: Sweet and Sour Chicken

Feteasca Neagra is a dark-skinned grape variety native to Moldova. Saperavi is native to Georgia, but is also grown in Moldova.

Radacini Saperavi Feteasca Neagra Merlot 2018 and Cumin Lamb Burger

Radacini Saperavi Feteasca Neagra Merlot 2018 (sample, $20 SRP), which is produced in the Stefan Voda region, is a beautiful blend of Saperavi (70%), Feteasca Neagra (20%) and Merlot (10%). Each grape variety has been fermented separately to allow each of the grape maximizing its favor before the blending.

Tasting notes: Fruity, spicy, exceptional bouquet of ripe black cherry jam, sour cherry, black pepper, thyme, and leathery – a bold red that pairs well with heavy red meat.

Chinese Food pairing: Cumin Lamb Burger

Photo Credit: Wine of Moldova

Moldova Wines – History and Regions

Moldova’s history of winemaking began around 3000 BC, and the initial traces of grapevines have been dated back to around 7000 BC. Since 2013, Moldova has embraced a wine quality system mirroring the EU model of protected geographical indications (PGI), and established geographically around the three traditional vine growing areas, which have differences in climate and growing conditions. These PGIs are Valul lui Traian, Ștefan Vodă and Codru plus a special geographical denomination for grape distillates called Divin. Check out my Moldova Wines post in July for more detail about the history of winemaking and PGIs of Moldova.



Posted by Pinny from Chinese Food And Wine Pairings

Celebrating Moldova National Wine Day with Chinese Food 2020-10-30T15:51:30-04:00

Celebrate Moldova National Wine Day – Exploring Native Varieties


Wine Of Moldova invites us and wine lovers around the world to celebrate Moldova Wine Day.  Join the celebrations on October 3rd and 4th by exploring the glorious wines of Moldova for the 19th annual edition of National Wine Day!

Where is Moldova you ask?  Don’t worry, when I first explored Moldova wines I asked the same question. It is situated 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 and is an integral part of the Moldavian culture.

Moldova Wine

Moldova has a rich and long history of winemaking which dates back to 3000 BC, and the first vines were recorded here 7000 years BC. Ancient petrified grapes seeds and amphorae from 2800 BC have been excavated.

The last decade has been exciting for Moldovan wines.  There has been a quiet revolution within the area that has immensely improved the quality of the wines.  The Moldovan wine sector has introduced The National Office for Vine and Wine (ONVV), whereby created protected geographical indications and a vine register. In 2019 Moldovan wines have been awarded 740 medals at world-renowned international wine competitions.

Moldova Grape Varieties

Moldova cultivates many international grape varieties, but what makes the wine exceptional and unique are the local grape varieties.  There are 112,000 hectares of vines of which 70% are white varieties (Rkatsiteli, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Aligote, etc.) and 30% are red varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Saperavi, etc.).

The reason I enjoy drinking and exploring Moldovan wines is the local varieties that are found nowhere else in the world.  Buckle your seatbelts and travel virtually through your wine glass and explore the authentic grape varieties of the region.

Feteasca Alba

This variety has been cultivated for centuries in this region. The wines made from it are fine, with floral aromas, and are light and fresh. As a result of natural cross-breeding with Furmint, Feteasca Regala was obtained, which is another indigenous variety. This grape is used a lot for sparkling wine production, but also for varietal Feteasca wine.

Feteasca Regala

Feteasca Regala is a light-skinned grape variety and is one of three varieties in this part of the world named Feteasca. Regala means royal, and so Feteasca Regala roughly translates to “princess”.  The grapes are aromatic with green apple and tropical fruit characters and can be vinified in an off-dry style as well. Feteasca Regala responds well to oak aging, which can add complexity to the wines.

Feteasca Neagra

With a history of over 2000 years, this variety originates in Moldova, in the Prut River Valley. Wines made of this variety stand out by its rich bouquet of forest fruit and wild cherry aromas, as well as the long and fruity aftertaste.


Viorica is a local grape variety grown in Moldova that is rightly considered a symbol of Moldovan white wines. It is a fresh, aromatic, crisp white wine that is a hybrid of from Seibel 13666 and Aleatico.

Moldova Wine

Moldova Wines To Try Now

Castel Mimi Feteasca Alba 2018

Castel Mimi is the first wine castle (Chateau) in Moldova, built-in 1903 on the Bulboaca estate, at the initiative of the then governor, Constantin Mimi. Having studied in France the governor was influenced by French architecture which compelled him to design the castle in a similar fashion. Today Castel Mimi is a leading national tourist attraction and among the most beautiful architectural masterpieces of the wine world.

This is an easy and elegant wine that declares at first its nuances with citrus aromas.  The wine gradually opens to fresh notes of apricot, with a discreet acidity.

Suvorov-Vin Viorica 2018

Suvorov-Vin is one of the biggest and most flexible wineries from Moldova,
was founded in 1998. The name of the winery originates from a nearby close historical Monument from the Russo-Turkish war – “The hill of Suvorov”.

This wine has a great personality with freshness and a full body. The wine opens with floral aromas and then evolves in the glass with complex flavors. It has richness and elegance with an aftertaste of fresh grapes. A wine with great balance and definition.

Purcari Rosu de Purcari 2015

Nestled in the countryside unfurling between the Dniester River and the Black Sea, Purcari’s modern technologies and traditional delights rest among verdant hillsides. Nearby lakes offer fishing, boating, and other relaxing pursuits that heighten the senses.

Rosu de Purcari is a revelation for wine lovers: ripe, rich, and full of flavor. The wine is a blend of 50% Cabernet-Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 10% Malbec.  It has a brick-red color and complex aromas of forest fruits, cranberries, and dried plums revealing delicate sweet nuances of vanilla. The fruit flavor surprises through its refinement, deepness and smoothness, ensuring a long-lasting aftertaste.

 Radacini Ampre Saperavi & Feteasca Neagra & Merlot 2018

At Radacini, they are not trying to impress you with century-old histories, underground cellars or chateaus. They believe that the most precious thing in a good wine is an expressive bouquet, which speaks for itself.

Beautiful red – purple-colored wine shows a bright bouquet of ripe black fruits & berries: plum, black cherry jam, sour cherry are joined by notes of black pepper and thyme. The taste is spicy and fruity with a leathery accent.

Moldova Wine

Moldova Wine

Posted by Rupal at Syrah Queen

Celebrate Moldova National Wine Day – Exploring Native Varieties 2020-10-30T15:40:23-04:00



This month we have a bonus – and very exciting – event that Lynn is hosting. Check out her sneak peek here! Our brand new blogging group World Wine Travel is discussing wines from Moldova in collaboration with Wine of Moldova and Vinconnexion. Moldova, the sliver tucked between Romania and Ukraine in SE Europe, that boasts more grape vines per person than anywhere else in the world! Lynn very generously arranged for samples for a few of us and we will discuss our thoughts on those, Moldovan grape varietals, food pairings, and Moldova Wine Day on Twitter this Sunday, 4 October at 8 AM PST under #worldwinetravel. In the meanwhile, read below to find out what everyone’s saying…

  • Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares “Two Indigenous Moldovan Grapes – Fetească Albă and Fetească Neagră – Paired With Colțunași Harnici (Hard-Working Dumplings)”
  • David from CookingChat has “Food Pairings for Moldavan Wines”
  • Terri from Our Good Life shares “Moldova Wine Day Celebration!”
  • Linda from My Full Wine Glass is “Celebrating ‘My Wine Day’ and the little country that could”
  • Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles shares “Moldovan Wine – moving forward while not losing track of the authentic grapes of their past” #WorldWineTravel
  • Susannah from Avvinare writes “You say Feteasca and I’ll Say Moldova”
  • Jennifer at Vino Travels tells us about “Eye Openers to the Wines of Moldova”
  • Melanie from Wining With Mel is “Exploring new territory with Moldovan wines”
  • Jeff from foodwineclick asks the question “Are Local Grapes the Future of Moldovan Wines?”
  • Here at Savor the Harvest I share “Moldovan Native Wine Grape Discoveries” #WorldWineTravel
  • Jill from L’Occasion discusses “Wines of Moldova: Worth the Adventure”
  • Payal from Keep the Peas pairs “Kashmiri Yakhni Pulao and Moldovan Wine”
  • Nicole from Somms Table is “Celebrating Moldova National Wine Day with More Food and Wine Explorations”
  • Rupal at Syrah Queen shares “Celebrate Moldova National Wine Day – Exploring Native Varieties”


The region that is now Moldova, once part of Romania, has been making wine since approximately 3000 BC. The topography includes hills, sunny plateaus and plains, and streams that flow into two big rivers, Prut and Dniester. The climate is continental with influences from the Black Sea. Allthis makes it ideally suited for viticulture and the production of quality red and white wines. Moldova has 112 thousand hectares of vineyard planted with international and native grape varietals spread over 3 main wine regions: Valul lui Traian (south west), Stefan Voda (south east) and Codru (center). Native grape varietals account for 10% of the vineyards and include Feteasca Alba, Feteasca Regala, Feteasca Neagra, Rara Neagra, Plavai, and Viorica.
I received 4 samples for this review: Suvorov Vin Viorica and Castel Mimi Feteasca Alba (white wines), and red blends from Chateau Purcari and Radacini.
13% ABV | Suggested SRP $18
100% Viorica
According to the winery: “Viorica is the name of a Moldavian girl, it comes from the flower of the same name. A wine with great personality and character, made from the local selection of Viorica grapes. Produced according to a special technology from selected Viorica grapes grown in vineyards in the Stefan Voda region (South-East) of Moldova. Delightful, harmonious, soft taste of wine reveals nuances of tea rose, candied fruit, honey and nutmeg. The grapes were grown in vineyards in the Stefan Voda region (South-East) of Moldova.”
Tasting Notes: 
The grapes for this pale gold wine are hand-harvested. On the nose it is wonderfully floral with notes of lemon rind and a faint mineral edge. On the palate it has notes of sweet white flowers,  muscat grapes, lemon juice, and a faint stony minerality with a juicy acidity and medium finish. Overall it is not too complex and certainly meant to be enjoyed now.
13% ABV | SRP $15
100% Feteasca Alba

Constantin Mimi, the last governor of Bessarabia and the man behind the vines and wines at Castel Mimi, may even be regarded as the force behind Moldovian wines. In 1893 he planted the first grape vines and started construction for the very large castle named after him. Having survived the tumult of the Soviet Bloc, Castel Mimi is now regarded not only as an excellent winery that produces wines from a variety of red and white grapes but also as a cultural center of excellence in the Republic of Moldova.

Tasting Notes: 
This unoaked wine is medium gold wine with flecks of green. On the nose and palate it is full of juicy citrus and stone fruit notes with a delicious minerality on the finish. The juicy acidity and medium finish make it perfect for wam weather. Overall it is not too complex and certainly meant to be enjoyed now.
We paired the wines with Kashmiri yakhni pulao with mushrooms (home-made) and walnut chutney one day, and a Hyderabadi vegetable biryani (take-out) the next. Both dishes are redolent with complex flavours and warm spices without being spicy and complement the wines beautifully.
The yakhni pulao, cooked in a fragrant broth, was lovely with both wines. In Kashmir the yakhni pulao would be made with local morel mushrooms but it’s definitely not morel season in CA so I had to make do with shiitake mushrooms. The walnut chutney is a classic Kashmiri accompaniment to a slew of dishes and was also excellent with both wines, especially the stone fruit of the Castel Mimi white. The Hyderabadi biryani really enhanced the floral and muscat notes in the Viorica and brought forward the lemon notes. A squeeze of lemon is a great flavour enhancer for pretty much any savoury dish from the Indian subcontinent so this was an absolute hit pairing that we would repeat!
Posted by Payal from Keep the Peas

Wines of Moldova: Worth the Adventure


Welcome to the very first edition of World Wine Travel, a writing group in the spirt of the French Winophiles, Wine Pairing Weekend, and Italian Food Wine Travel. Many of the writers who collaborate in these groups made a move to focus on wine travel, expanding our coverage around the world. Our first stop: Moldova.

We embark with guides: Wine of Moldova and Vinconnexion in October to celebrate a special event, Moldova National Wine Day October 3rd and 4th.

According to Lynn Gowdy at Savor the Harvest, our host this month: “Traditionally, the event takes place on the Chişinău-based Great National Assembly Square and in Moldovan wineries on the first weekend of October, just after harvest. The festival celebrates not only Moldovan winemaking traditions, which date to the 15th century, but also culture and traditional foods.”

The Trip

So it’s a crazy year, and those of located in North American won’t be able to visit Moldova right now, but my curiosity drove me to plan a trip.

A glance at Google Flights (not as generous now with travel restrictions) offers me a few flight options from O’Hare International Airport, the cheapest is on Turkish Airlines. While it takes a while to get there, it’s under $1,000 and offers a day layover in Istanbul. Could be fun.

Triple the cost, and I could have a seat on Austrian Airlines with a quick stop in Vienna. Or I could get on Lufthansa, with quick stop in Frankfurt before boarding Air Moldova to KIV, Chișinău International Airport.

Once in Chișinău, there are some cool hotel options. Again, I know that travel isn’t normal now, but my search on Trip Advisor (which I limited to highly rated and five star) revealed several gorgeous options for well less than $200. The top spot, Berd’s Design Hotel, has rates for under $150. Plus, it earned the Travelers Choice 2020 award, has a spa and an Italian restaurant on site.

Trip Advisor also offered recommendation for interesting wine tasting options. While I’m sure it’s possible to just try a few wines, these Moldovan properties have doubled down on cool adventures and lasting hospitality.

Moldovan Food and Wine

2020 hasn’t allowed me to realize this trip, but it did offer me the opportunity to taste and cover wine from Moldova.

A First Taste of Wine from Moldova | Read it on L’Occasion

In a very WOW style, Moldova has the following:

  • The largest wine cellar in the world
  • The largest wine collection in the world
  • Underground galleries so large one can drive through them
  • And underground wine city
  • A wine industry employing 250,000 people
  • 140 wine companies
  • A claim to the largest density of vineyards in the world, which covers nearly 4% of the territory

The wines have an interesting selection that leans on indigenous grapes, with international grapes sprinkled in. For this discovery session I explored the following mix and I doubt that anyone needs an explanation about which are native and which aren’t:

A white wine: Viorica | Suvorov Viorica 2018

A white wine: Fetească Albă | Castel Mimi Feteasca Alba 2018

A red wine: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec | Rosu de Purcari 2015

A red wine: Saperavi, Fetească Neagră, Merlot | Radacini Saperavi Feteasca Neagra Merlot 2018

For more on the wines of the region, including video resources, check out my previous post on Moldova Wines.

Photo Credit: Jill Barth

Posted by Jill from L’Occasion

Wines of Moldova: Worth the Adventure 2020-10-30T15:30:31-04:00

Taste Moldovan Wines – New Grape Discoveries


Since the iron curtain fell, Moldovan wineries and vineyards are back to private ownership, viticulture is evolving, and Moldova is welcoming visitors in droves to share and enjoy their wines.

In fact, efforts to decrease quantity and increase quality are forefront and center. And Moldova highlights less know grapes native to the country for those seeking the obscure. Ready to come with me and discover Moldovan wine?!?

~   ~   ~   ~   ~

I jumped at the chance to celebrate Moldova’s National Wine Day with the new blogging group, World Wine Travel and Wine of Moldova. We’ll be on Twitter chatting this Sunday, October 4th at 11am ET and 5pm in France using hashtags #WorldWineTravel and #MoldovaWineDay. Hope you’ll join us!

If you missed the Moldova wine Master Class led by wine judge and wine writer Dr. Jamie Goode on October 3rd you can see the recording of it here.

The consistent theme of the sponsored wines I received revolves around two grapes: Fetească Neagră and Rara Neagră, each wine is between 5% and 100%. Fetească Neagră (pronounced Fet-YA-sca NA-Gra) is hard to say five times fast yet definitely memorable on the palate!

All About the Grapes

Winemakers in Moldova are working with grapes both familiar (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc) and obscure (Fetească Neagră, Fetească Regala, Fetească Albă, Viorica, Plavai, and Rkatsiteli). International varieties hold substantial ground yet I find these less known varieties exciting.

My Kindle version of the Jancis Robinson book Wine Grapes came in handy for these grapes where it shares the black Fetească Neagră “…probably originates in the historical region of Moldavia (including today’s Republic of Moldova and the Romanian region of Moldova)”. It’s rarely found outside of Eastern Europe but that may change as less common grapes become more and more popular.

And for Rară Neagră, also known as Băbească Neagră, it tells us the grape “…is a very old Romanian variety that most likely originated in the Nicoreşti vineyards in the county of Galaţi in Romanian Moldova…”

Clusters of Feteasca Neagra, a thick-skinned red grape indigenous to Moldova and Romania. The grape has characteristic blackberry aromas.

Pertaining to Fetească Neagră, other sources shared it is resistant to both drought conditions and cold temperatures. This strength could come from its thicker skins, which also means higher concentrations of anthocyanin and deep ruby red colors.

It grows vigorously yet contradicts itself with low productivity. The grape makes up for it being flexible, producing dry, semi-dry and sweet wines.

Pertaining to Rară Neagră, the grape is almost opposite having thin skins, susceptible to noble rot, powdery and downy mildews, and doesn’t like drought conditions.

All this leads us to the best part, tasting wines made with these two grapes! (For an overview of Moldovan wine and wine regions see my previous article here.) The wines in this article were provided as samples, no other compensation was provided. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

moldova minis terrios harab alp cabernet sauvignon feteasca neagra2019 Minis Terrios Harap Alb

Minis Terrios is a family owned and operated smaller winery established in 2013. This is the third wine Dan Prisacaru (who studied in Burgundy) made with the label highlighting a fairy tale character. Here Harap Alb (the white moor or white and black person) gave him the idea to make a white wine from dark berries. This character is often seen slaying a bear, thus the bear hat he wears as shown on the label.

Prisacaru blended Cabernet Sauvignon (85%) and Fetească Neagră (15%) in the blanc de noir style.

Aged for two months with batonnage (lees stirring), the color is pale coppery-pink. Lifted aromas include rose, yellow plum, citrus (the pith of lemon and lime), celeriac, hints of cider-like red berries. The palate is very different with a citrus astringency, less ripe nectarine and apricot kernel focus. It’s zesty with refreshing acidity and a low tannic feel that made me wonder if there was a bit of skin contact, however and exchange with Dan confirmed no.

vegetarian udon noodles sesame sauce


Overall the wine has a savory quality and a lean, crisp texture that paired wonderfully with my udon noodle dish. Buckwheat udon and vegetables in a Asian sesame sauce topped with poached egg and algue pesto. The rich sesame tamed the astringency and highlighted the nectarine flavors in the wine. 13% ABV, average price in the EU $8

Minis Terrios is on FaceBook!



2017 Chateau Vartely | Individo

The chateau is a winery and leisure resort with guesthouses, a restaurant and fireside lounge. They offer a number of varied wine tours and tastings.

Individo is Vartely’s line of single variety wines. Being 100% Fetească Neagră which is known for a deep color, it poured a lighter ruby than expected. The wine delivers big on aromas: black berry, black plum, cherry, faint chocolate (which reminded me of Nestle’s Quick) and lightly toasted wood. These carried to the palate, also pronounced yet with fresher fruit, cedar and forest spices. The balanced acidity and finely integrated tannins played off each other allowing flavors to linger.

Steak Frites moldova chateau vartely feteasca neagra

Steak Frites from the grill was a nice match with Chateau Vartely Feteasca Neagra.

Not knowing a lot about this grape we pulled out the grill deciding on Steak-Frites. This classic French dish featuring entrecote (rib-eye) was a super pairing. Here the richness of the meat toned down the tangier fruit flavors, highlighted the spices in the wine and gave it even more of a silky feel. And those crispy, smoky fries cooked on the grill… amazing too! Visit the Chateau Vartely website for more information. 14% ABV, average price $22

2018 Chateau Purcari |Negru De Purcari

Purcari is one of the oldest wineries in Moldova with a fascinating story. They received a special edict from Tzar Nicholas I in 1827 indicating them the first specialized winery in Bessarabia. They survived wars and the Soviets and remain a top Moldovan source for wines today. Negru De Purcari is an original wine that is still made today.

Purcari’s vineyards nestle in their own micro-climate and receive warm winds off the Black Sea which aide grape ripen during the summer months into autumn.

Negru de purcari moldova wineIn this wine, the 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Saperavi and 5% Rara Neagră spent 18 months in French oak barrels. Note Rara Neagră goes by Băbească Neagră in Romania.

Color: Almost pronounced, really beautiful ruby-purple.

Aromas: Medium-intensity ripe red and black plum, black cherry, blackberry, non-sweet bubblegum, forest spice.

Palate: The berries follow to the palate but riper; fresh green peppercorn, cedar, vanilla and clove. It’s dry yet has a sweetness to it from the fruit.

The attack is quite fresh and round then subsides into a bowl of fruit and spice with the peppercorns squeezed over the top. Medium acidity and body with impeccable balance, the tannins are silky and fade as the wine lingers. One rich and elegant pour.

I used my Coravin to taste this wine with the steak-frites too. While I would sip it alone, the richness of the beef relaxed the high tones of the wine making it that much more enjoyable.

I pulled the cork the following day. After an hour, sipping it with home made pizza our conclusion- a very nice wine! Visit the Purcari Winery website for additional information.     14% ABV, average price $22

Fautor Winery – Negre 2017

moldova wine Fautor Negre

Fautor Winery Limited Edition labels have stories behind them. Here, the label frame is separated by a swallow and a swallow’s tail. Feteasca Neagra is also known as the swallow’s tail or ‘coada randunicii‘.

Negre is in Fautor’s Limited Edition range of wines. Here they highlight two Moldovan grapes, Fetească Neagră (51%) and Rară Neagră (49%) grown en the Valul lui Traian appellation.

The wine spent 12 months in new French oak barrels before release.

This medium-ruby colored, medium-bodied wine is wild berry forest fresh with red and black cherry, hints of pine, cinnamon, clove, vanilla and shaved wood. An appealing earthiness on the palate, fruit flavors are fresher- red and black cherry, black berry, then bay spice and cedar. Tannins taste younger with a tacky feel that fades quickly allowing the fruit, round silkiness and balanced structure to shine. I would invite a pairing of grilled duck breast with roasted chestnuts and mushrooms topped with a chunky cherry sauce to my table!

14% ABV, average price $23   For more information about Fautor Winery visit their website.

In wrapping up this Moldovan wine foray, I reiterate my research highlights- Moldova is making high quality wines of character worthy of a place at your table. I hope you’re able to enjoy a glass soon!



Posted by Lynn at Savor the Harvest

Taste Moldovan Wines – New Grape Discoveries 2020-10-30T15:24:31-04:00

Are Local Grapes the Future of Moldovan Wines?


World Wine Travel Group Inaugural Virtual Visit to Moldova Our three collaborative blogging groups are expanding into one more area: World Wine Travel. This Moldova Wine Day event is a preview of things to come, as our group formally starts up in 2021. Follow us at the new hashtag #WorldWineTravel! Today, we travel virtually to the central European country of Moldova to help our friends at Wine of Moldova celebrate their annual wine holiday, Moldova Wine Day.

Where in the World is Moldova? Moldova is a small country wedged between Romania and Ukraine. Moldova has been a wine producing country for a very long time and once had a top reputation, especially in Russia. Long under Soviet rule, they became independent once again in 1991.  After their return to independence, the country has slowly been working to rebuild their quality wine industry and regain an international reputation.

Consumers get acquainted with a region via wines based on familiar grapes

First, International Grapes To much of the wine world, Moldova is a mystery. Where is it? What are the wines like? It makes perfect sense for Moldovan wines to start out with familiar grapes. International customers will have an idea of what to expect and can compare their current wine experience with the new experience of wines from this central European country.

Once Moldova is known, consumers can explore the local grapes!

We’re lucky to be able to taste local grapes, native to this region at all. They were forbidden during the years of Soviet occupation, but winegrowers and farmers were careful to keep some vines, even if they were hidden. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Moldova was free to plant and use these hidden grapes and they are beginning to emerge. Several are indigenous to the Moldova / Romania region, and one is a hybrid grape with a cool story.

The following grape descriptions are quoted from the Wine of Moldova Enoturism Guide: and Caroline Gilby’s book: “The Wines of Bulgaria, Romania, and Moldova

  • Feteasca Alba – (white grape) This variety has been cultivated for centuries in this region and appears to be a very ancient grape. The wines of this variety are fine and delicate, with floral aromas and a light and fresh body. It’s one of the parents of Fetească Regală (along with Frâncușă) which comes from Transylvania in Romania but has been grown in the Moldovan region for decades.
  • Feteasca Regala – (white grape) This a semi-aromatic grape variety is the result of a natural cross, found near Sighișoara in Romania in 1920s. It has typical floral and grapefruit aromas and flavours of fresh pear and citrus but is usually more full-bodied and textured than its parent.
  • Feteasca Neagra – (red grape) With a history of over 2000 years, this variety probably originates from Prut river valley located in the south west of Moldova, and there are claims it may even have been cultivated directly from the wild. It is capable of producing high quality reds, with typical aromas of wild cherry and violets, concentrated berry fruit and good structure.
  • Rara Neagra – (red grape) This is an old variety local to the region, possibly cultivated as early as Geto-Dacian times, in south east Romania and what is today’s Republic of Moldova. It is relatively pale in colour with gentle soft tannins and spicy berry fruit. It seems particularly well suited to the sunny slopes of southern Moldova.
  • Viorica – (white grape) A hybrid developed in Moldova in 1969 from Seibel 13666 and Aleatico. It was originally bred for distillation and cold resistance, but it is proving well suited to making aromatic but very fresh crisp white wines and a number of wineries are now producing this. Interesting side note on Viorica: Albert Seibel was a French physician who lived in the late 1800’s, in the middle of Phylloxera’s devastating spread across Europe. He worked diligently to develop new hybrid grapes which would be disease resistant, and in the case of Viorica, also cold resistant!

Disclosure: The wines in this post were provided as samples. No other compensation was provided. All opinions expressed are mine.

Chateau Mimi Feteasca Alba

Castel Mimi Feteasca Alba, Codru IGP 2018 (sample, $19 SRP) 13% abv Eye: Clear, medium lemon Nose: Clean, medium- intensity aromas of delicate white flowers, chamomile, gardenia, underripe pear, hint of clean earth. Mouth: Dry, medium- intensity aromas of flowers, chamomile, underripe pear. Medium+ refreshing acidity, medium- body with a lean texture, medium alcohol, medium+ finish. Observation: A delicate, refreshing wine.

Suvorov-Vin Viorica

Suvorov-Vin Viorica, Moldova 2018 (sample, $18 SRP) 13% abv Eye: Clear, pale lemon Nose: Clean, pronounced aromas of honeysuckle, ripe peach, tangerine, lychee, grapefruit peel in the background. Mouth: Dry, with pronounced intensity flavors of ripe peaches and grapefruit . Medium acidity, medium body with a creamy texture, medium alcohol, with a medium+ finish. Observation: An unusual combination of aromas and flavors, it’s very interesting! The initial aromas remind me of Muscat Blanc Petit à Grains or Gewurztraminer, but the wine is bone dry. The grapefruit which is in the background on the nose is side by side with the richer fruits on the palate. I’m looking foward to trying this with some foods to see what works best. A unique and fun wine!

Feteasca Neagra wine made by viticulture students

Oficiul National Al Viei si Vinului Feteasca Neagra Micro Vinificantie Experimenntala 2018 (not for sale, a product of the wine school) Eye: Clear, medium ruby Nose: Clean, medium intensity aromas of violets, candied red and blue fruits: strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, black plum. Just a bit of slate. Mouth: Dry, with medium intensity flavors following the nose closely with violets, candied red and blue fruits. Medium acidity with medium chalky tannins, high alcohol, with a medium+ finish. Observations: This is one of a series of wines vinified by viticulture students. The grapes came from different vineyards and were individually vinified by the same people and process, without oak aging. I was fascinated by the experimental nature and was able to bring a bottle home. While I didn’t get a full set, this was a great way to see a grape highlighted without other impacts.

Local and international varieties from Moldova


Posted by foodwineclick

Are Local Grapes the Future of Moldovan Wines? 2020-10-30T15:15:13-04:00

Exploring new territory with Moldovan wines


Have you ever tried something completely new, then been absolutely astounded you didn’t know about it beforehand? That was my experience discovering Moldovan wines this week. Heck, I honestly wasn’t even sure where Moldova was before writing this post. But trust me, it is now at the top of my list for Eastern European wine travel. Speaking of travel, this post is part of a new monthly wine blogger gathering precisely on the topic of #worldwinetravel. This month is generously sponsored by Wine of Moldova and VinConnexion in celebration of the country’s National Wine Day on October 3 and 4 (as always, opinions are my own). Keep reading to learn all about this well-established wine region and its amazing wines.

Moldovan wine bottle lineup
Moldova wine lineup

Moldova 101


If, like me, you know nothing about Moldova, let’s start with some maps.

Map of Moldova. Source: diplomatonline.com
Map source: Celestial Wine and Spirits

Moldova is a small landlocked country sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania. Its population is only 3.5 million people, and its capital city is called Chișinău. The country is on the same latitude as Bourgogne in France, and is technically further north than Ottawa (who knew!). Its climate is tempered by the nearby Black Sea.

A (very) brief history

Historically, the Principality of Moldavia was ceded to the Russian Empire in the early 1800s by the Ottoman Empire, when it became known as Bessarabia. Over the course of the next two hundred or so years, it became independent, then became part of Romania, then was annexed by the Soviet Union, before finally declaring independence and becoming the Republic of Moldova in 1991 after the fall of the Iron curtain.


Since I am a language nerd, you know I have to mention this. When I first opened these wines, I couldn’t figure out why I could read the labels, even though they weren’t in English. Wasn’t Moldova historically part of Russia? Shouldn’t it be written in an alphabet I don’t know? As it turns out, in its 1991 Declaration of Independence, Moldova made Romanian its official language. Some of you may already know that Romanian is actually a Romance language (i.e. shares linguistic roots with French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese) so it uses the Latin alphabet (i.e. A, B, C) rather than Russian Cyrillic script. Since I speak both French and Spanish, it stands to reason that I could read the bottles, seeing as Romanian is essentially their linguistic cousin. The language is sometimes also referred to as Moldovan, which is essentially a dialect of Romanian.

Back of Moldovan wine bottle
Can you understand this?

Extra-linguistic side note: if I can read a bottle of wine in Romanian, why oh why can’t I understand the lyrics of this most famous of Romanian songs?

Anyone remember this “classic” by O-Zone? (skip to 0:50)

Moldovan wine

Winemaking practices in Moldova date back to 3000 BC (!!) so it stands to reason that this tradition is deeply entrenched in Moldovan culture and folklore. There are a shocking 128,000 ha of vines planted throughout this small nation, making it the country with the highest density of vineyards in the world, growing over 50 grape varieties. There are three wine regions that are now protected geographic indications: Valul lui Traian, Stefan Voda and Codru (are you taking notes? There’ll be a test at the end ;-).

Map of Moldova. Source: wineofmoldova.com

In the last few decades, Moldovan wine has undergone a massive overhaul to improve quality and modernize practices following the less-than favourable impacts of Soviet rule (cf Gorbachev’s anti-alcohol campaign in the 80s). The results speak for themselves, with Moldovan wines bringing home 187 gold medals at various international competitions in 2018.

European grape varieties make up about 73% of the national breakdown. Of those, 70% are white varieties, and 30% are red. That said, about 55% of exports are of the red variety. There is also a growing importance of indigenous varieties, such as feteasca alba, feteasca regala, feteasca neagra, rara neagra, plavai, etc. Bonus: 14% of wines produced in Moldova are sparkling wines, often made in the traditional method (i.e. the Champagne method).

And now, let’s get wining!

Cricova Prestige Codru 2017

Bottle of Moldovan Cricova Codru
Cricova Prestige Codru

This Cricova was an excellent initiation into Moldovan wines.

Besides being the name of the region where it is grown, Codru also refers to a specific red blend of 75% cabernet sauvignon and 25% merlot, grown in warmer microclimates in this central region known for its white wines.

It is a deep ruby red colour and offers rich aromas of blackberry, rhubarb, raisin, black cherry, plum, leather and tobacco. It’s the kind of wine I could smell all day (is that weird?). When you taste it, you initially get this burst of juiciness, oddly reminiscent of baco noir, followed by flavours of pomegranate, blackberry, cherries, cinnamon, and smokiness. It is medium bodied and smooth, despite being aged on oak for 18 months. There’s a slight pull of tannin, but nothing a big chunk of steak couldn’t take care of. Yes, this is the ultimate pairing for any hearty meal, from a simple burger or sausage to rack of lamb.

Cricova is known as the “Pearl of Moldovan winemaking” and is famous for its 120 kilometres of labyrinthical underground tunnels. This underground city not only home to the winery’s cellars, but also to the national collection of wine. This is definitely now on my list of must-sees.

Château Vartely Individo Feteasca Neagra 2017

Bottle of Moldovan Chateau Vartely
Château Vartely Individo Feteasca Negra

Feteasca neagra literally means “black maiden”, due to its black skin, and is the third most planted red grape in the region. This Romanian grape‑that‑could is literally bringing Moldovan wine back to its roots while also putting Moldova on the wine map.

To give you an idea of my very formal tasting notes, this one starts with “OH YUM”. It’s all black fruit, spices and smoke, is nice and juicy, with good, solid structure (i.e. body and tannin). It pairs beautifully with red meats, preferably grilled to match the wine’s smokey flavour. I also just had it with French saucisson and it was a stellar match. I’ll say it again: OH YUM. It would also make an unexpected perfect pairing for Thanksgiving dinner – just saying!

Purcari Freedom Blend 2014

Bottle of Moldovan Purcari Freedom Blend
Purcari Freedom Blend

Purcari, located in the village of the same name, is one Moldova’s oldest wineries. It was established in 1827, when Russian Emperor Nicholas I made it the first specialized winery in Bessarabia. It has excelled in reconciling traditional and modern winemaking techniques, installing state-of-the-art technology over the last twenty years.

The Freedom Blend was a special project that began in 2011 to commemorate the 20-year anniversary of Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia’s independence. The blend is made up of an indigenous grape from each country: rara neagra (Moldova), bastardo (Ukraine) and saperavi (Georgia).

This was the oldest wine in the bunch, from 2014. That is why it has a garnet edge in its the deep ruby red colour. This wine needs a bit of time to open up, but then it reveals aromas of rich black fruit, baking spice, leather, and tobacco. On the palate, its tannins are still a bit chewy and it has great acidity, making this a great candidate for cellaring. It is full-bodied, with flavours of cherry, plum, red pepper and smoke. Delicious!

Negru de Purcari 2016

Bottle of Moldovan Negru de Purcari
Negru de Purcari

I saved the best for last! Usually I don’t pay attention to gold stickers on wine bottles, but this 2020 Decanter World Wine Award gold‑medal winner cannot be ignored. Made of 70% cabernet sauvignon, 25% saperavi and 5% rara neagra, this ruby red wine is so dark, it’s opaque. The bouquet is gorgeous, with black cherry, violet, fig, and a hint of minerality. On the palate, there is the same dark fruit and floral character, with a hint of dark chocolate and smokey tobacco. This is yet another red meat wine – give those chewy tannins something to work on! It went beautifully with an autumn beef stew. The tannins and acidity also make it perfect for cellaring. So buy the case, and drink one every year to see how it evolves. I’m sure this is one that will only get better with age.

Where to buy?

So, how can we get these wines here in Canada? Moldova is still a little‑known wine region, and our Canadian wine-buying market is relatively small compared to our neighbours to the south, so these wines can be hard to source. My samples came from Celestial Wines and Spirits in Alberta (thank you!!), and a small selection of Moldovan wines are listed at the SAQ in Quebec. In Ontario, I suspect a few may float in and out of Vintages throughout the year. That said, I am told the Athlone Liquor Store will deliver these wines right to your door. For those of you in Quebec, try Vinohora.


At the beginning of this week, I didn’t know where in the world Moldova was, and now I’m obsessed with their wine. If you love full-bodied reds that are a perfect balance of fruit flavours, spice, tannin and acidity, you absolutely must try Moldovan wines. Now I’m itching to try their whites and sparklings! Who wants to split on a case?

Happy wining!


Blog of Melanie from Wining With Mel

Exploring new territory with Moldovan wines 2020-10-30T15:18:16-04:00