Moldovan wine: All Shook Up

10 January, 2014

The cellars were renovated in 2004 and parent company Bostoram Holdings has invested in European equipment for a mechanised plant which produces up to 1 million bottles a year. 

The winery Moldova most likes to shout about is its famous Milesti Mici, a state-owned winery in the central Codru region which has 200km of tunnels – created when the limestone was quarried for capital Chisineau – big enough to drive a bus through and with each tunnel named after a grape variety. 

Milesti Mici prides itself on its Guinness World Records entry for housing the world’s largest wine collection (more than 2 million bottles). It exports to Japan, China, the UK, US, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Poland. According to the tour guide: “The Japanese once wanted to buy up all our National Collection but it’s a national treasure and cannot be sold.”

Also on the ‘national treasure’ scale is Cricova Winery, again in Codru – said to be especially suited to white and sparkling wine production – and again boasting underground cellars which total nearly 60km and were converted to store wine in the 1950s. 

Among its store of some 1 million vintage wines is the former private collection of Nazi general Hermann Goering – along with those of Alexander Putin and Angela Merkel.

Sparkling production

Neighbouring Asconi Winery has 500ha of privately owened vineyards and plans to expand by 100ha a year for the next four years, as well as factoring in a mini-plant for sparkling wine production. It currently exports 3 million bottles a year – 80% to the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia, along with the US, central Africa and China. It also has its sights set on Japan.

It is evident that Asconi is working hard to get back up to speed following the 2006 Russian ban when it had three factories exporting 3 million bottles a month – it has invested in a bottling line which can bottle 6,000-8,000 bottles an hour.

Asia is an especially important market here, as the company says: “The Chinese market is fed up with French wines and the price is higher. Moldova is a new market so the wines are less expensive.”

Moldova’s annual Wine Festival – a jaunty affair complete with dancing horses, brass bands and choreographed routines – showcases some of the country’s best offerings and highlights a growing band of boutique producers experimenting with a variety of viticultural techniques to create some outstanding wines.

Given the paucity of the domestic market – many households have their own vines and produce their own juice – clearly exports are a high priority. 

Some overseas (and overland) markets have already discovered the high quality of which Moldova is capable. Now it just needs to focus its mission and shake up the other possibilities to build more of those stable relationships it so craves.

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