Moldovan Wines
May 2007

Moldova is located south-east Europe to the east of Romania and surrounded by the Ukraine on the remaining three sides.  It is on the same latitude as Bordeaux and Burgundy and lies close to the Black Sea and the Danube Delta.  Grapes have been grown in Moldova for thousands of years.  Today there are four main vine growing areas: central, south-eastern, southern and northern.

The vineyards in the central region (codru) lie among wooded hills that protect the vines from the extremes of the continental climate.  The central region is planted mainly with Feteasca Alba, Chardonnay, Riesling, Traminer Aligoté and Sauvignon Blanc.

The south-eastern region is influenced by the warm breezes the blow in off the Black Sea and as a result the grapes grown here are such as merlot, cabernet sauvignon and the indigenous rara neagra.

The southern region is drier than elsewhere and is mainly planted with red varieties such as pinot noir, merlot and cabernet sauvignon.  The wines from the southern region are generally richer bodied than elsewhere and it also produces Moldova’s top red dessert wines.

The northern region is mainly planted with white varieties, and much of the production is used for brandy (feteasca is a bit like ugni blanc, though nicer).  Grapes grown in the northern region include the pinots, aligoté, feteasca, traminer, sauvignon, riesling and chardonnay.

All the pinot family does very well in Moldova, and in the past Moldova had a major sparkling wine industry, exporting to Russia.


2005 Feteasca, Dionysos-Mereni Carlevana, 12.5%
The Dionysos-Mereni winery is based in the village of Merenii-Noi in the central region of Moldova, about 20km from the capital city of Chisinau.  The winery was built in 1959 and acquired by the current owner in 1998.  Winemaker, Constantin Stratan, has established the Carlevana brand of premium wines.
This was cold fermented in stainless steel.  It has a straw gold appearance and is quite straw like on the nose with some green beans.  Interesting palate.  Very open and attractive with a nice roundness.  A very pleasant wine.  Very Good.  88/100

2006 Firebird Merlot Rosé, DK-Intertrade, 13.5%
DK-Intertrade was established in 1995 in the southern region of Moldova.  The company consists of the winery, Auvin and the Dionis Club distributing company in Russia.  This is a big company: they have 160 hectares of new vineyards planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay, and a production of 10 million litres, with bottling facilities than can turn out 6,000 bottles an hour.  In the UK, the wines are marketed under the Firebird Legend label, and they account for 20% of Moldovan wines in the UK.
The Merlot Rosé is 95% merlot and 5% pinot noir.  It’s a very deep raspberry pink colour.  There are delightful strawberry plums on the nose, which is really quite sweet.  Full, very silky palate with some spiciness building towards the finish.  This is a very attractive wine and very good indeed at the price (£4.99).  88/100

2006 Taking Root Bastardo Cabernet Sauvignon, Acorex Wine Holdings, 13%
Acorex have been in business around 12 years making both hand-crafted, premium wines and more commercial wines.  Their vineyards are located in Cahul in the southern region of Moldova.
This is a blend of 50% bastardo and 50% cabernet sauvignon, and it has a deepish garnet colour.  There’s quite ripe slighly jammy black fruit on the nose with hints of tobacco.  It has a clean, forward palate.  Rather big and a bit overdone for my taste.  Fairly firm tannins on the finish.  85/100

2003 Merlot, Purcari, 12%
Purcari was originally founded in 1827 in the south-eastern region of Moldova, influenced by the warm, humid Black Sea winds.  They have 200 hectares of vineyards, mainly on sandy soils, planted with chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, pinot noir, saperavi and rara neagra.  Apparently their red, Negru de Purcari, was enjoyed by Queen Victoria, and the Purcari cellars still hold stocks dating back to 1948.
This is 100% merlot that undergoes temperature controlled fermentation in a combination of new and used French oak.  It has a rather woody nose, redolent of fresh sawn timber with some concentrated plums, or rather roasted plum fruit.  Very pleasant attack.  Very interesting palate, with lots of layers, though there’s no great depth.  This has a nice interest to it.  Very Good.  87/100

2005 Riesling Ice Wine, Chateau Vartely, 10.5%
Chateau Varterly is a medium sized winery in the town of Orhei in Moldova’s central region.  It was built in 1996 and has more than 200 hectares of vineyards in the southern and central regions, producing around 700,000 bottles annually (roughly two-thirds red and one-third white).
This ice-wine is made from naturally frozen grapes, collected at 8°C, cold fermented in stainless steel, and it has 240g/l of residual sugar.  It has an intense nose, with sweet concentrated boiled sweet (peach and apple flavour) notes.  Very pure on the palate with a brilliant acidity.  It has some real character to it, which sets it apart from German (from which it’s very distant) and Austrian riesling ice-wines.  Very pleasant indeed.  88+/100

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Last updated: 09 July 2007