Moldovan wine: All Shook Up

10 January, 2014

“We needed to expand the tactic to the entire sector and find a unique way of promoting the country through an image that would be common for the country. That’s why we started to work to create a wine country brand. We had to get them to work together and this was not easy. We were trying to get them to go to trade fairs together under one booth as a community. 

“I think at the next Prowein we will appear on the international market with a new image as Wine Moldova, with a slogan and visual identity. The brand will be built on quality requirements and not all wine produced in Moldova will be able to trade under this brand. We will have a quality standard that will be based on organoleptical attributes – the wines will have to express the country.”

Flagship varieties

Moldova has four distict winemaking regions and, throughout, the wineries are concentrating their efforts on producing world-class wines from international grape varieties, but work is also being done on establishing flagship varieties which could convey that sense of ‘place’ the country so desires.

Lazar says Feteasca in both black and white varieties and Saparavi are the grapes that could most succeed in this respect, along with Rara Neagra, which she dubs “very much a Moldovan grape”.

The problem here is that the rootstocks are having to be re-established, having been all but lost during the Prohibition.

“Moldovan winemakers cannot provide volumes because they only started to plant them a few years ago. This is due to the Soviets, who didn’t promote and support these varieties. I believe we could excel in the cuvées.”

Only 5%-7% of the total vineyards support indigenous grapes but Lazar points out that the terroir is diverse – “we have hills, two rivers, the sea – different climates. And there are many stores of raw materials which can be used to have excellent plants”.

Lazar continues: “Most of the best wines of Moldova are cuvées. We have varietal wines which have won awards but the blends are special. Today the entire sector is striving to get out of its cliché, which is putting Moldova into cheap and low quality wines, and we want to prove we can do better.

“We got into a vicious circle because of the market. Eighty per cent of our wines went to Russia and they don’t know anything about wine. They are poor and importers want to make a lot of money.”

Despite Moldova carrying the tag of being the poorest country in Europe, investment is evident in its leading wineries, the majority of which double as tourist attractions in a country which has no beaches to offer and very little in the way of culturally historic buildings, thanks largely to war and earthquakes.

Purcari, in the prestigious Stefan-Voda winemaking region, is the country’s oldest winery, having been established in 1827, and boasts that its Negru de Purcari 1951 was a favourite of Queen Victoria and the only wine exported during Soviet times with an English label. Its main export markets for wines grown on 260ha are Romania, Russia and Ukraine and it has a handsome visitor centre which is not only popular with tourists but also acts as a venue for special events, including weddings.

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