Best 15 Wines From Moldova Republic
Wine in the Republic of Moldova has a long and interesting history divided into moments of glory, decay, and rebirth.
The legend has it that the wines produced here were the pride of the Romanov’s, resting in their famous Kremlin cellars.
In terms of terroir, the vineyards of the Republic of Moldova have a similar latitude to the Burgundy region, having a temperate-continental climate and being within the proximity of the Black Sea, which protects the vineyards from cold winters.
Currently, the total area of vines is about 149,000 hectares, of which 106,000 are for wine production. Most of the plantations are located in the south and center of the country near the capital Chişinău. Most of the grape varieties grown here are of French origin, with a fair ratio between white and red varieties. The climate here favors the production of memorable sparkling wines, spirits called locally divinuri (divine spirits) and sweet wines in the ice wine style.
A list of the best wines or wineries in the Republic of Moldova has to start with the most famous and titled producer, Château Purcari or, in short, Purcari. Its story begins in the 18th century when French settlers leased the vineyards to the Afron-Zograf monastery, an act that symbolizes the perfect ‘symbiosis’ between French know-how in obtaining quality wines and the terroir destined for high-quality grapes.
The baptismal act was established in 1827, when Tsar Nicholas I issued a special decree establishing the first specialized winery in Bessarabia at Purcari, at that time being a region in vassal relationship to the Russian Empire. International recognition was first achieved in 1878 at the World’s Fair in Paris when the Purcari Winery was awarded a gold medal in a wine competition. The astonishment was immense, especially since the tasters were firmly convinced that they had tasted a new, genuine Bordeaux when, in fact, they had tasted what would go on to become a true legend… Negru de Purcari (Black of Purcari).
1. Negru de Purcari, Cabernet Sauvignon, Saperavi, Rară Neagră
Negru de Purcari can be refered to as ‘the black pearl’ of the Republic of Moldova, which impresses at first sight with a deep ruby red color with garnet hues. The wine then seduces you with a bouquet of well-defined aromas of cedar, ripe plums, dehydrated figs, and saffron. In taste, the wine is robust, well-balanced, with velvety tannins and delicious aromas of cherries, chocolate, and eucalyptus. The finish is almost endless, with final notes of dark chocolate, blackcurrant, and vanilla.
It is recommended that the wine is decanted at least two hours before consumption and that it is served at a temperature of 18-19°C (64-66°F), preferably in the company of roast wild boar sirloin in red wine sauce, pheasant roll with chestnut puree, mature cheeses, black truffles, or, really, whatever food you like.
After Negru de Purcari won the gold medal, wines produced on the banks of the Dniester river became as popular as the wines of Bordeaux or Burgundy and preferred by Tsar Nicholas II, King George V, and Queen Victoria of the UK. Obviously, in addition to the Negru de Purcari, the winemakers decided to complete the collection of red wines by creating a sensual and unforgettable wine in the expression of Roşu de Purcari (Red of Purcari).
2. Roşu de Purcari, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec
This is a very seductive wine from the beginning, starting in the glass with a deep ruby color and a charming bouquet with notes of blackberries and sweet spices. The maturation process of 18 months in French oak barrels makes Roşu de Purcari a wine with a rich structure, a perfect balance, and smooth tannins. The finish is long, memorable, and with final notes of cherry and wood, which leaves the impression of a ‘feminine’ texture, completing the spirit of Negru de Purcari. It is recommended that the wine is decanted for at least an hour and a half before consumption.
The ideal serving temperature is 18-19°C (64-66°F) and it goes perfectly with dishes such as feathered venison, beef, roast lamb with aromatic herbs, slightly spicy cheeses such as Cheddar or Parmigiano Reggiano, and with your favorite food.
The 1950s were marked by a fundamental transition involving the transformation of Bessarabia into an integral part of the USSR. This influenced the whole concept of viticulture and vinification because from that point on everything relied on quantity rather than quality, both in the vineyard and in the winery. However, at Purcari there were some exceptions to the rule because during this period, the recipe for Negru de Purcari was saved by a few rare editions and, at the same time, a new legend was created: Purpuriu de Purcari (Purple of Purcari).
In 2003, a new period began with massive investment in the field of winemaking technology and the replanting of the 250 hectares of grapevines. History was rewritten with a fresh approach and by confirming the wine quality seal as a result of exporting worldwide to over 25 countries. And the innovations did not stop here, because in 2012 the Château Purcari wine collection was completed with a ‘sweet’ surprise.
3. Purcari, Ice Wine, Muscat Ottonel & Traminer
According to the producer, Purcari Ice Wine is ‘a duet and a duel between fire and ice’ which takes the shape of a wine deep golden yellow in color and with a charming nose, aromas of acacia tree honey, candied apricots, and sweet spices. The taste is the expression of a perfect balance between sugar, acidity, and a full aromatic spectrum.
The aftertaste is long, unique, and elegant with final notes of raisins and golden apples. Served at a temperature of 6-7°C (42-44°F) it can be excellently combined with foie gras, blue cheeses, anchovies, or chicken chimichanga.
With the coming of age of the grapevines planted in 2003-2004 and the approach of the first 200 years since its establishment, in 2013, the Purcari Winery embarked on an ambitious change of image. The new range ‘1827’ refers directly to the founding year and begins with a very diverse wine range that pays tribute to the unique climate located between the Dniester and the Black Sea, but also to local and international varieties.
4. 1827 Rosé de Purcari, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Rară Neagră
The rosé version from the 1827 collection delights from the beginning with a pale salmon color, which is typical for Provence wines, and a rich nose of fine aromas of red currants, rose petals, and peaches. In taste, the wine is dry, mineral, very fresh, and has increased acidity. The finish is short to medium with discreet strawberry notes.
The ideal serving temperature is 6-8°C (42-46°F) and it goes very well with seafood pasta, shrimp risotto, or desserts like cheesecake.
Leaving, nostalgically, the land of the Purcari Winery and heading toward the north of the Republic of Moldova, about 20 km from the capital Chişinău, we discover one of the most spectacular wineries in the world.
Surprisingly for many, the history of the Cricova Winery is very recent, starting up in 1952. Looking from the outside, the intital project appeared simply to focus on the construction of a huge wine warehouse. Inside the USSR, however, the construction of such a ‘warehouse’ was natural, given the extravagant and ambitious policy of becoming one of the largest wine producers in the world. The role of Bessarabia was therefore essential, being the main producing region.
Basically, one out of every two bottles of still wine and one out of every three bottles of sparkling wine were produced from Moldovan wine or grapes. Thus, the warehouse, to cope with the inevitable problem of storing in optimal conditions an almost infinite wine reserve.
5. Cricova Clasic Brut Alb, Chardonnay & Pinot Noir
Created according to the traditional champenoise method, the blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir impresses us in the glass with an abundant and fine pearl, followed by a light yellow color with greenish hues. The nose is elegant, with delicate aromas of green apple, lime peel, and biscuit. The body is medium and very fresh and elegant due to the balance between the predominant citrus aromas and acidity.
The finish is medium to long with discreet final notes of apricot and quince. It is recommended that the wine is served at a temperature of 4-6°C (39-43°F), either on its own or with fresh cheeses, caviar, or oysters.
6. Cricova Premium Cuvée Brut Roz
Cuvée Brut Roz (rosé) is a sparkling wine from the winery’s high-end collection, created by a second fermentation in glass followed by a period of maturation in the bottle of at least 9 months. Its color is pale pink and it seduces us from the first nose with strong aromas of red currants, blackberries, and white rose petals.
The taste is full but delicate at the same time, while its acidity very pleasantly outlines the final aromas of orange peel and pear. It can be consumed at a temperature of 4-6°C (39-42°F) and is perfectly combined with baked salmon with asparagus, grilled duck breast, or chicken curry.
Apparently, the dreamed of ‘warehouse’ could only be located in a huge limestone quarry in continuous exploitation, where, beginning in 1947, the first ‘experimental’ batch of sparkling wines began to be produced. Officially, the winery was established in 1952 and is a real ‘underground city’ of wines. The total length of the galleries is about 120 km or 53 hectares, with a depth of over 100 meters. And each ‘maze corner’ has a personalized name: Cabernet Street, Aligoté Street, Sauvignon Street.
The maturation and aging conditions are perfect, due to the limestone that maintains a stable temperature (12-14°C) and humidity (85-95%).
With the exception of its own collection of more than 1 million bottles and 20 million liters of wine waiting to be launched onto the market, Cricova is proud of its rare bottles and wine cellars. For example, here is located the personal collections of Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel, and Donald Tusk. Even Yuri Gagarin spent a night here, candidly mentioning, after seeing again the light of day, that it:
“was harder for him to get out of the cellars of Cricova than to fly into space”.Yuri Gagarin
But records are made to be broken, because in Mileştii Mici we discover one of the largest wine collections in the world. In 2005, the winery was recognized by the Guinness World Records as housing the largest collection in the world, totaling over 1.5 million bottles, a collection housed in the perfect temperature and humidity and from which periodically escapes a rare vintage for the Republic of Moldova.
7. Negru de Mileştii Mici 1987
Created from an original recipe of Cabernet Sauvignon, Rară Neagră, and Saperavi, Negru de Mileştii Mici (Black of Mileştii Mici) captures an era, but also an edition, with very good aging potential. The color is dark garnet with tawny hues, followed by an elegant bouquet with aromas of cedar, coffee, dark chocolate, and saffron. In taste, the wine is dry, round, full-bodied with smooth tannins and very pleasant aromas of prunes, dates, and candied figs. The aftertaste is medium with clear final notes of blackberries. It is a wine that is ideally served at a temperature of 18-20°C (64-68°F) and it must be decanted at least two hours before consumption for aeration and removal of deposits. It can be paired excellently with mutton pastrami, and beef or deer stew with polenta.
And yet the Republic of Moldova is still far from finished with its wine stories. One of the wineries that will take your breath away because of its architecture, history, tourist potential, hospitality, and, last but not least, for the quality of its wines is Castel Mimi. The name comes from the winery’s founder, Constantin Mimi, who was the last governor of Bessarabia during the tsarist period, former governor of the National Bank of Romania, and an extremely talented winemaker.
After the communist period, the winery went through an intense renovation process that began in 2010 and after which the mansion regained the appearance of ‘Miniature Versailles’ and experienced a new moment of apogee.
8. Castel Mimi, Chardonnay by Omega
Radoux Omega Limited Edition is aged in small oak barrels for a minimum period of 6 months and produced in an extremely limited edition of only 1175 bottles. From the beginning, the wine has a light golden yellow color and an interesting nose with aromas of white cherries, vanilla, and biscuit. Due to the oak aging, the wine has a robust body but, at the same time, is balanced and refined. The aftertaste is long, with final mineral and citrus notes.
The ideal serving temperature is 6-8°C (43-47°F) and it can be perfectly combined with baked sea bream, seafood salad, or young cheeses.
9. Mimi Castle, Roşu de Bulboaca
Roşu de Bulboaca (Red of Bulboaca) is a wine that best pays homage to the unique terroir of the winery’s village of origin (Bulboaca) and it is no coincidence that this is the wine that has received the most medals. In the glass, the wine impresses with a very deep ruby red color and a very rich bouquet with well-defined aromas of pomegranates, blackberries, and prunes. The wine is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec and aged for at least 12 months in French oak barrels, reflected in its very robust structure. However, its texture is very velvety and the final impression is endless with final notes spiced with saffron and cinnamon.
The ideal serving temperature is 17-18°C (62-64°F) and it can be wonderfully combined with feathered venison, baked duck breast in cherry sauce, or dark chocolate desserts.
Furthermore, the story of wine from the Republic of Moldova shows us that it is just beginning. And its merit is exclusive to the newly established wineries that have rewritten history and demonstrated how unfair was the anonymity imposed on Moldovan wine at different political conjunctures, a wine that is in a continuous revolution. A good example is the Gitana Winery, a family business, established in 1999, that laid the foundations of a modern winery, based on the ‘skeleton’ of the former Soviet winery ‘Ţiganca’ (Gypsy Girl).
10. Gitana, La Petite Sophie
La Petite Sophie is a dry white blend of Chardonnay, Fetească Regală, and Riesling which impresses with a golden yellow color with green hues and a complex nose with aromas of white roses and acacia flowers. The body is robust, due to its partial maturation in wooden barrels, but well-balanced and with intense vegetal notes.
The aftertaste is long, with final notes of pineapple, mint, and eucalyptus. It is recommended that the wine is consumed at a temperature of 6-8°C (43-46°F) and it can be paired with fusilli with spinach, cod with asparagus, or baked chicken with herbes de Provence.
11. Gitana, Lupi
Gitana Lupi (Wolves) is a picturesque wine of refinement. The name was chosen because on certain mornings, a small family of wolves can be seen guarding the red grapes. The wine is made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Saperavi and is distinguished by a dark ruby color and a rich nose with well-defined aromas of blackcurrant, vanilla, nutmeg, and white pepper. Despite its name, the wine does not show ferocity, being more likely characterized by complexity, refinement, balance, and a good structure. The aftertaste is long, with slightly sweet final notes of blueberry, blackberry, and plum jams enveloped by leather aromas.
It is recommended that the wine is decanted for at least one hour before consumption and served at a temperature of 17-19°C (63-66°F). It can be perfectly combined with dark chocolate, well-matured cheeses, pasta in red sauce, or lamb chops.
Founded in 1996, Château Vartely borrows, along with its name, a part of the spirit and picturesqueness of the Orhei area. Vartely is the old name of the area and curiously comes from the Hungarian language, meaning ‘place of the fortress’, ergo ‘château’. Under the seal of its unique etymology, the winery has embarked on a very ambitious project, outlined around 300 hectares and a picturesque accommodation and events complex.
12. Individo Rosé, Rară Neagră
Through the Individo collection, Château Vartely makes wines that respect the typicity of the variety and the noble aspect of the wine tradition in the Republic of Moldova. The rosé wine begins with a pale salmon color and a very fragrant nose of ripe pears, red currants, and lemon peel. Delicate and fresh in taste, the wine impresses with its increased acidity and minerality. The aftertaste is medium but very tasty with final notes of pineapple and red cherries.
It can be served at a temperature of 6-8°C (43-46°F) and can be consumed by itself or in the company of salads or fresh cheeses. However, the producer recommends that the wine be paired with baked perch in a golden crust on a bed of leeks and sweet peppers.
Located in the south-east of the Republic of Moldova, Et Cetera Winery is the most recent ‘adventure’ of the Luchianov family. After they acquired the land in 2002, the grapevines were planted and the first harvests were expected. Despite the young vineyards and the absence of tradition, Et Cetera wines were an overnight sensation, completely taking the Moldovan wine aficionados by surprise.
13. Et Cetera, Aeroplane, Carmenere
Carmenere is a grape variety originally from Bordeaux but which created a real revolution in the vineyards of Maipo, Rapel, and Colchagua from Chile. Near the Dniester River, this red variety from the Aeroplane collection is a velvety show with a deep ruby color and a rich nose of black pepper, green pepper, and carnations. In taste, the wine is dry, complex and silky with intense fruity aromas of blueberries, blackberries, and cherries.
The finish is medium to long and slightly spicy. Served at a temperature of 16-18°C (60-64°F), it can be fantastically paired with beef in coconut sauce, Mexican food, or baked lamb chops in berry sauce and red wine.
14. Et Cetera, Serendipity, Fetească Neagră şi Saperavi
The name is predestined, but the interpretation is relative. In short, the concept of ‘serendipity’ means the discovery of something, when you are looking for something completely different. Maybe it refers to the discovery of the Et Cetera winery while researching the legends of Moldovan wine, or maybe to the rediscovery of a Romanian variety in this version ennobled with Saperavi. Regardless of its hidden message, the wine is a real revelation.
From the beginning, the wine impresses with an intense ruby color, followed by a sumptuous nose of prunes, cherries, coffee, and nutmeg. The 18 months spent in oak casks speak for themselves, offering a wine with a consistent structure and well-defined tannins. The finish is long, with final aromas of pomegranate and red pepper. Elaborate and sensual, the wine needs to spend at least two hours in the decanter.
Enjoyed at a temperature of 18-19°C (64-66°F), it is the perfect red wine to pair with wild boar stew, sarmale (traditional cabbage rolls stuffed with beef and mutton), or lamb on a tray with rosemary or dark chocolate.
Located in the center of the Republic of Moldova, the Château Cojusna winery is beginning the continuation of the good reputation of the ‘conglomerate’ wineries located around the capital, Chişinău. Founded in 1995, the winery began to shape its own tradition with high-quality wines, exceptional distillates, and elegant but picturesque spaces for accommodation and tastings.
15. Château Cojuşna, Vin de Colecţie Cahor, 2001
Cahor or Kagor is one of the most popular wines in the Republic of Moldova, due to its presence in the ritual of Christian-Orthodox communion. The traditional varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon and Saperavi, and the name is borrowed from the Cahors region (France), where the preferred variety is Malbec. It was Tsar Peter the Great who created this connection by massively importing the French version. And soon, due to its success, Bessarabia began to produce its ‘own’ version for the Russian Church.
In almost two decades, the wine evolved to a garnet red color with tawny shades and a memorable bouquet in which blackcurrants, black cherries, prunes, and candied figs predominate. In taste, the wine is sweet, very creamy, and full-bodied with a strong structure and intense notes of chocolate and cherry jam. The aftertaste is long, leaving the impression of perfect balance between acidity, sugar, tannins, and alcohol.
It is recommended that the wine is decanted for at least two before consumption and served at a temperature of 18-20°C (64-68°F). Although its role is to be piously consumed during communion, a gastronomic approach in the company of desserts such as crème brûlée, wine and blackcurrant jelly, or chocolate mousse would not be considered an impiety.
We cannot complete our wine tasting in the Republic of Moldova without a taste of the authentic DIVIN, a unique local brandy that could seriously threaten the supremacy of French cognac, especially the VSOP and XO versions. This assures us the ideal comfort to meditate between old and new, picturesque and refinement. And especially to the survival of a population of 3 millions souls, split by history but united each time by tradition and the duty to continue their own story of wine.
A recent history of wine production in Moldova
In the 1970s the USSR, which Moldova was then part of, was the third largest wine producer in the world, obviously influencing the vineyard area of Bessarabia, which at that time had a peak of over 240,000 hectares.
But the policy of reducing alcohol consumption imposed by President Mikhail Gorbachev inevitably created a major crisis in wine production in Bessarabia.
In 1991, as a result of the recent collapse of the Soviet regime, Bessarabia became a state separate from the Soviet Union, bearing the name of the Republic of Moldova (not to be confused with the neighboring Romanian region of Moldova). Despite the unexpected freedom, the country’s economy was still dependent on Russia, although it began to show signs of recovery from the early 2000s.
But the period of stability in local wine production did not last long due to an embargo imposed by Vladimir Putin in 2006, which obviously had a negative effect in both the Republic of Moldova and Georgia.
This is why trade on the foreign market was facilitated by the European Union for member countries, the main consumers being the Czech Republic, Poland, and Romania. And since 2014, advanced talks have been initiated with the United States regarding the export of Moldovan wines.
In recent years, the Republic of Moldova has attracted millions of euros from the European Investment Bank, facilitated significant ,new investments, new plantations and international specialists, which implicitly marked a new (ongoing) chapter of Moldovan wine.