Whenever we can strike a blow for freedom – and it involves drinking wine – we’re in all the way. Moldova is one of the oldest wine regions in the world with historical mentions dating back to Homer’s Iliad.
Russia, the biggest customer for wine from Moldova, has placed an embargo on Moldovan wine except for five wineries in a primarily Russian-speaking province. This was followed by efforts to stir up interest in Gaugazia becoming an independent region.
Sounds like a page from the Vladimir Putin’s playbook! Now with the support of US Secretary of State, John Kerry, Wine of Moldova, a government body looking to raise international awareness and sales, is launching their first campaign to promote Moldovan Wines in the US.
Resembling the form of a cluster of grapes sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania, The Republic of Moldova lies in the Black Sea basin offering winemakers an ideal climate for vinification. Moldova has the greatest density of vineyards in the world with more than 276,000 acres of grape vines.
Moldova cultivates indigenous varietals like Feteasca Alba, Feteasca Neagra, Rara Neagra, Traminer, and Saperavi as well as the better known Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc. Almost 25% of the country’s workforce is employed by the wine industry.
We were fortunate to receive a couple bottle of Moldovan wine to sample. The first is Golden Land Feteasca Neagra. The name of this Romanian-Moldovan grape means “black maiden” and the shade of this wine is a deep ruby. The bouquet is barnyard with aromas of meat.
As the nose will tell you, this is not your typical Pinot Noir, let’s say. It is a bold wine with savory flavors and deep raspberry notes. This would be a great choice with lamb or game.
The Chateau Vartely Traminer is a wine with whitish-green color. It comes from the southern Moldovan region of Codru. This region of forest, hills and rolling countryside is the best place to sample Moldovan white and sparkling wines. It is also the location of Romanesti, the former wine making colony of the imperial Romanov dynasty.
Traminer is a family of white grapes with Gerwurztraminer being the most well known. This wine lives up to its heritage, with a very floral bouquet. It has a dry finish with moderate acidity and rose petal and grapefruit flavors. It is refreshing and enjoyable.
One of my good friends who visits eastern Europe regularly proclaims that he has never had a bad Moldovan wine. We enjoyed the chance to sample this pair and hope to see greater availability and success in the U.S. market for Moldovan wines.
Full Disclosure: These wines were received as marketing samples.