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!
Pair with: Grilled Whole Black Sea Bass and Vegetables with Charred Red Onion Vinaigrette
If you, like me, have discovered there is much to learn about wine and food from Moldova, check out the extensive resources below. These writers are participants in this month’s Wine Pairing Weekend. They’ve done the research and paired the wines. Read up and join the Twitter chat on Saturday, June 11, 2020 at 10am central. Use #WinePW to find us.
- Andrea at The Quirky Cork shares “Cooking Out with Moldovan Wine”
- Liz at What’s in that Bottle shares “Moldova Mashup: Wines of Moldova & Foods of the World“
- Terri at Our Good Life shares “Special Celebration and Moldova Wines”
- Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm shares “Smoked Pot Roast with a Negru de Purcari from Moldova”
- David at Cooking Chat shares “Ground Beef Chili with Red Wine from Moldova”
- Deanna at Asian Test Kitchen shares “Pairing Moldovan Wine with Burmese Cuisine”
- Linda at My Full Wine Glass shares “Finally, a grill! Just in time for Moldovan wine pairing”
- Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares “Maidens from Moldova + Summer Suppers”
- Jennifer at Vino Travels Italy shares “A Look into the Wines of Moldova”
- Jane at Always Ravenous shares “Savory Cheese Crostata Paired with Moldovan Wines”
- Michelle at Rockin Red Blog shares “Discovering Wines of Moldova.”
- Cindy at Grape Experiences shares “Have You Tasted Wines from Moldova? Try These!”
- Rupal at Syrah Queen shares “Uncorking Moldova – Three Wines To Try Now”
- Martin at Enofylz Wine Blog shares “Getting To Know the Wines of Moldova”
- Nicole at Somms Table shares “Tasty Moldovan Food & Wine Explorations”
- Gwendolyn at Wine Predator shares “Moldova: Bubbles, Red Blend, and …Pizza? Yes!”
- Pinny at Chinese Food and Wine Pairings shares “Moldovan Wines and Korean Sushi – Kimbap”
- Susannah of Aavinare is sharing “Moldova – An Ancient Country with Beautiful Wines to Discover.”
- Here on L’OCCASION we share “A First Taste of Moldova Wines”.
- Jeff at Food Wine Click! shares “Cabin Pairings for Moldovan Wines” | NOTE: Jeff is our hosts this month and has lots of great material on the subject, available to read for free now.
As I mentioned, these wines are media samples, but no compensation was exchanged and all opinion are my own. As always.
15 thoughts on “A First Taste of Wine from Moldova”
Most Americans can’t even find Moldova on a map, much less know they were once a storied wine region sought by kings and nobility and how the Soviet Union destroyed their viticulture.
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You have a magical way of distilling a large amount of information into a manageable, interesting read Jill! A wonderful read!
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I really love the detail on the back of the label. As you said, it’s so helpful to orient people and give them a connection the where and who.
Beautifully presented in visual and words. I love how they added a map to their label. Especially when people have no idea where it is. I was guilty!
So much wonderful information here! I too was super excited to delve into this region I knew so little about. I now hope to learn more and you’ve given me great next steps.
Thank you Nicole!
Thanks for sharing the video and other resources for understanding these wines. So helpful.
Nice piece Jill, thanks for the shout out and we hope you are well.
By a strange coincidence Jill I just came across your blog again with this article on Moldovan wine which I was googling as I’d just tried a bottle from Vartely bought from The Wine Society (UK). It was a Feteasca based wine and I wrote some simple notes in my log.
“A bronze medal winner with Decanter Awards and a silver medal at International Awards. My first Moldovan wine and first Feteasca grape.Earthy, full bodied and with plenty of fruit. Blackberries? Tastes better next day too. Should age well for a couple of years and well priced at £8.95”
It was part of my Wines 101 project tasting as many grapes and wines from different countries as I can find, good fun! Just followed your blog again as I refocus on the “wine hobby” 👍🍷🍷