Moldova: An Old World Wine Country Emerging into the New World
Wine is the ultimate expression of the place from which it originates. The land, the soil, the climate, the traditions, the people and the cuisine all play a role in how the wine is produced and ultimately how the wine tastes. Exploring wine from around the world is the great journey that attracts so many of us. And it’s a vast world, expanding faster than we can keep up with, especially in Eastern Europe where several countries who have been producing wine for generations are now making waves with the more mainstream global wine community. One of these countries that I think is emerging, and still remains under the radar of many, is Moldova.
I recently published a story about Moldova in the Huffington Post that looked at many of the facts about the country and their winemaking that few people know. Chief among these are the miles of caves storing millions of bottles of wine that you can drive cars into; the fact that British royalty and many celebrities enjoy Moldovan wine; and also that many of Moldova’s wines are scoring 90+ point ratings from the mainstream wine mags, while being moderately priced between $10-$40.
So what do you need to know about Moldovan wine, you might ask? First, recognize that many of these Eastern European countries, including Romania, Croatia and Hungary, are producing world class wines. We just don’t seem them in the US that often. But they’re coming. More and more wine shops are featuring these wines, and many wine lists at restaurants and wine bars now will have a selection of hard to pronounce wines from these emerging states. Don’t let that be a deterrent from ordering them though.
For Moldova, it’s important to know about a local grape called Rara Neagra, which really found fame in the country in the 18th century and today is a primary stand alone varietal as well as a red wine blending component in many of Moldova’s top bottlings.
Rara Neagra is herbal on the nose, fruity, acidic, with sour cherry notes. It produces big strong red wines that are perfect to enjoy with red meat, or hearty red sauce cuisine.
In addition, Moldovan wines feature more familiar varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot, as well as popular whites including Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
In my sampling of a handful of Moldovan wines, I really enjoyed the reds, particularly the 2010 Rosu de Purcari from Chateau Purcari, one of the larger producers of Moldovan wine. This wine is a Bordeaux blend consisting of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot and 15% Malbec and it has generous flavors of blueberry pie, cherry, with oak notes on the finish. It’s a powerful and elegant red that is priced around $30, but drinks like it cost much more than that.
For only $10, you can score the 2015 “Dor” Bostavan red blend that is made from Rara Neagra and Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is lighter, and softer in the mouth with flavors of cherry, red licorice and some sweetness on the finish. For only $10 it’s not a bad buy at all for a solid everyday drinker.
Where to find Moldovan wine. These aren’t wines you’ll find at your local grocery store, at least, not yet. Some specialty shops may carry them. The restaurant at the Marriott Marquis in NYC carries them, and more restaurants are beginning to follow. You can order them online here. But more than anything, I hope this article inspires you to try new wines, from new places. Doing so is the best way to learn about the wine world, expand your palate, and find wines that you love.
Have you tried Moldovan wines? If so let us know in the comments below. Also, let us know of other emerging wine regions that are off the beaten path but worthy of a look, and a taste.