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Vinul Moldovei by Dimitry Grachov Vol. 1

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EN

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Boris Buliga

Dimitry has smuggled in Moldova's finest wines to Ukraine. And he's eager to share these gems with others. Need I say more? Count me in!


some random image you can find on barberry garden
order is a bit shaky

Ever been in a situation where you're drinking an exquisite bottle of wine, and just when you're lost in its enchanting aroma and delightful flavours, someone tells you it's from a place you least expected? Yep, Moldova does that to people. A tiny landlocked nation, packed to the brim with wine treasures just waiting to be unveiled. And thanks to Dimitry's adventurous escapades into this wine wonderland, we've had the privilege to sip and savour some of its finest.

Remember the last time we ventured into Moldova's vineyards? Ah, what an evening it was! And guess what? Dimitry, being the wine maverick that he is, decided that one evening was just not enough. He took it upon himself, amidst all the "you got to be kidding me" stares, to bring more of these bottled stories. You can't buy them here in Ukraine, folks! And no, we don't endorse swiping it from Dimitry's collection, tempting as it may sound. The better plan? Attend the event. Seriously, attend it.

Now, being Moldovan myself, my heart swells with joy every time these wines take centre stage. But let's address the elephant in the room. Moldovan wines, in the past, haven't been the toast of the Ukrainian towns. A sad cocktail of limited choice, preconceived notions, and maybe a few mishaps along the way. But here's the thing - a country with not one but two of the largest wine cellars on Earth, and a history drenched in viticulture, can't possibly have only average wine. It's just that you've been sipping the wrong ones.

In Moldova, wine isn't just a beverage; it's a legacy, a tale passed down generations, a blend of the old world charm and new age vigour. It's a reflection of its people - subtle yet full of character, humble yet brimming with depth. And while I might still ponder the existential question of why Moldova exists (thank you, Youtube, for raising this question), there's no doubt in my mind about its wines. They're here to surprise, to delight, and most importantly, to be remembered.

So, ready for another evening of Moldovan magic? Come on over. We promise no more existential questions, just good wine, hearty laughter, and maybe a joke or two at Dimitry's expense. Wine not?

WinePlace
wavg
sdev
price
QPR
🥉 3rd3.73330.0790
500 UAH
3.2382
🏅 6th3.48520.0867
280 UAH
4.0697
🏅 5th3.49440.0261
280 UAH
4.1223
🏅 7th3.41110.0372
360 UAH
2.8586
🏅 4th3.68330.0517
280 UAH
5.3809
🥈 2nd3.98700.0402
760 UAH
3.0969
🥇 1st4.04260.0190
1,100 UAH
2.3268

Cricova Rosé Pinot Meunier Extra-Sec 2020

Type
white sparkling, extra-dry
Region
Codru, Moldova
Producer
Cricova
Vintage
NV
Disgorged
2022-12-11
On lees
18 months
Grapes
Pinot Meunier
Alcohol
13
Price
500 UAH
Cricova Rosé Pinot Meunier Extra-Sec (d2022) NV

This wine secured the 🥉 3rd place in our wine tasting lineup.

Nestled in the heart of Moldova, the Cricova Winery is a cherished gem in the realm of viticulture. Established in 1952 amidst the historical town bearing its name, it stands a mere 15 kilometers north of Chişinău. The inception of this winery marked a significant epoch in Moldovan winemaking, addressing the exigent need for wine storage and maturation facilities at the time.

A voyage through the annals of Cricova unfolds a tale of underground grandeur. The winery boasts the second largest wine cellar globally, extending over 120 kilometers beneath the earth's crust. These subterranean labyrinths, carved from limestone in the 15th century, once served as a mine before cradling the vine's nectar. They now foster a perfect microclimate for the maturation of fine wines, ensuring a unique sojourn for every bottle.

The allure of Cricova transcends its historical and architectural marvels. Renowned as Moldova's largest producer of traditional method sparkling wines, Cricova's portfolio blooms with a diverse range of red, white, sparkling, and sweet wines. The finesse of French methode champenoise is mirrored in their sparkling wines. Besides the international varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay, Cricova takes pride in nurturing native grapes like Feteasca Alba and Feteasca Neagra, adding a unique Moldovan touch to every sip.

This traditional sparkling rosé is crafted exclusively from Pinot Meunier grapes, cultivated in limestone-rich soils. It has been matured for 18 months sur lie, enhancing its complexity. Although the exact dosage remains undisclosed, it's categorised as extra-sec, suggesting a delicate hint of sweetness. Notably, malolactic fermentation has been bypassed, retaining its crisp, natural acidity.

Novak White Label Floricica 2022

Type
white still, dry
Region
Valul lui Traian, Moldova
Producer
Novak
Vintage
2022
Grapes
Floricica
Alcohol
13.5
Price
280 UAH
Novak White Label Floricica 2022

This wine secured the 🏅 6th place in our wine tasting lineup.

⚠️ Much of the narrative presented here is derived from insights shared by Dmitry Grachov, based on his conversations with Andrei Novak.

Novak Winery, situated in the Cantemir district of the Republic of Moldova, melds tradition with modern innovation, embodying a fresh vision of time-honored winemaking practices. Established on the foundation of an old enterprise from 1977, the winery was officially founded in 2004 and has since gained prominence in the southern region of the country.

Spanning over 30 hectares in IGP Valul lui Traian, the Novak vineyards can be found across Comrat, Tartaul, and Ciobalaccia villages. These vineyards are home to both classic and indigenous grape varieties. Alongside international favorites like Merlot, Cabernet-Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Malbec, they also cultivate traditional local varieties such as Rară Neagră and Feteasca Regală. Notably, the winery has championed the revival of certain nearly forgotten varieties, including Alb de Onițcani and Floricica, which some experts believed were lost in history.

In 1968, a grape variety was conceived through the crossing of Riesling from the Rhine and Villard Blanc from France. Although frost-hardy and early-ripening, this particular variety found limited terrain in France, spanning only 150 hectares. Interestingly, its growth flourished in regions like England and Canada. By 2006, it was officially recognized in the Moldovan wine registry.

The Riesling parentage endows the variety with pronounced sugar accumulation and a captivating aromatic profile. In contrast, Villard contributes to its resilience against stress. While the variety once witnessed a decline – even facing hybrid prohibitions that limited its footprint to the aforementioned 150 hectares in France – it’s witnessing a resurgence in interest.

The Novak vineyard, situated in the sun-soaked Valul lui Traian zone known for its rich chernozem soil and an annual temperature sum of 35°C, has embraced this variety. Spanning 1.6 hectares, the vines were planted in 2018/2019. This accounts for a significant portion, as only 15-20 hectares exist in Moldova in total. By 2023, Novak intends to plant an additional 5 hectares.

To preserve optimal sugar levels, the grape harvesting process is meticulously carried out in three stages. This approach extends to all the white grapes harvested at this vineyard.

The winemaking process itself is both traditional and rigorous: grapes are harvested, sulfited, and the must is left in contact with the grape skins for 5 hours at a temperature of 14-15°C. Bentonite is used to clarify the must, followed by fermentation at 18-20°C over a period of 7-9 days. The wine is then treated with cold to prevent any malolactic fermentation, which is particularly crucial for the Villard trait that tends to cloud the wine.

Novak White Label Alb de Oniţcani Classic 2022

Type
white still, dry
Region
Valul lui Traian, Moldova
Producer
Novak
Vintage
2022
Grapes
Alb de Oniţcani
Alcohol
12
Price
280 UAH
Novak White Label Alb de Oniţcani Classic 2022

This wine secured the 🏅 5th place in our wine tasting lineup.

⚠️ Much of the narrative presented here is derived from insights shared by Dmitry Grachov, based on his conversations with Andrei Novak.

The 2022 Alb de Oniţcani from Novak Winery brings a piece of Moldova's viticultural history to the glass. The grape, Alb de Oniţcani, is a product of dedicated research carried out by the Chișinău Agrarian Institute and Moldovan Wine Research Institute "Vierul" back in the 1960s. Behind its complex name and origin, led by researchers D. Verderevschi, C. Voitovici, I. Naidenova, and a team of co-authors, this grape stands out for its robustness. With strong resistance to cold, mold, rot, and mildew, Alb de Oniţcani is engineered for resilience.

Its unique characteristic of late ripening and inherent high acidity made it a predominant choice for bulk wine production, especially when grown in the colder Codru region. However, Andrei Novak saw potential beyond the bulk. Riding on the subtle advantages of climate change and leveraging the grape's characteristics, in 2016, Novak produced the market's first single-varietal Alb de Oniţcani wine. This distinct offering traces its roots to vines planted between 2008 and 2009 in the village of Tartaul, located in the warm Valul lui Traian zone in Southern Moldova.

Vinification follows the methods used for Floricica.

Novak Orange Alb de Onițcani 2021

Type
white still, dry
Region
Valul lui Traian, Moldova
Producer
Novak
Vintage
2021
Grapes
Alb de Oniţcani
Alcohol
14
Price
360 UAH
Novak Orange Alb de Onițcani 2021

This wine secured the 🏅 7th place in our wine tasting lineup.

Information on the technical details of the winemaking process for Novak Orange Alb de Onițcani 2021 is scarce. However, it is known that the wine is crafted through alcoholic fermentation of the must in prolonged contact with grape skins, pulp, and seeds from handpicked Alb de Oniţcani grapes.

Novak White Label Copceac 2022

Type
red still, dry
Region
Valul lui Traian, Moldova
Producer
Novak
Vintage
2022
Grapes
Copceac
Alcohol
13.5
Price
280 UAH
Novak White Label Copceac 2022

This wine secured the 🏅 4th place in our wine tasting lineup.

⚠️ Much of the narrative presented here is derived from insights shared by Dmitry Grachov, based on his conversations with Andrei Novak.

Born in the sixties, Copceac is a variety hailing from the Bessarabian region. Initially cultivated modestly in Southern Moldova and Odessa, it held its presence mainly at Moldova's Institute of Ampelography and Tairov's Institute of Winemaking. The legend surrounding this grape is as intriguing as the wine it produces. In 2018, at the National Grape Institute's nursery in the Chișinău region, a fire nearly wiped out the existence of this grape. Miraculously, amidst the potential housing construction area where the nursery lay, a lone enthusiast discovered a single bush untouched by the flames. From it, 30 tiny buds were painstakingly extracted and grafted onto a one-year-old vine. Against all odds, Copceac survived.

Andrei Novak, having made a splash with Alb de Oniţcani and inspired by the intrigue of indigenous varieties, collaborated with this enthusiast. Engaging in selective planting, he integrated 10-15 plots of Copceac vines annually. By 2022, Novak's vineyards boasted half a hectare of this variety, further expanding to 1 hectare in 2023.

Novak's winemaking approach to the Copceac 2022 is a testament to its unique journey. Before fermentation, the must was allowed to rest on the grape skins at low temperatures for four days. After completing both the alcoholic and malolactic fermentations, the wine was then matured in oak barrels sourced from France, the United States, and the Carpathians. Three months later, the wine was drawn off. In June 2023, this batch, encapsulating the essence of the Novak series, was bottled, resulting in a total of 1,780 bottles. Another five barrels will continue their aging process for a year, destined for the exclusive black series.

Equinox 5 Elemente Negru 2019

Type
red still, dry
Region
Ștefan Vodă, Moldova
Producer
Equinox
Vintage
2019
Grapes
Rară Neagră, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carménère, Malbec
Alcohol
14.5
Price
760 UAH
Equinox 5 Elemente Negru 2019

This wine secured the 🥈 2nd place in our wine tasting lineup.

Equinox is a winery that derives its wines from a 5-hectare vineyard situated near the Olănești village, an area affectionately referred to as Luchineasa by the locals. This vineyard beautifully perches on hills that overlook the Nistru valley. The unique position of the vineyard affords it a specific microclimate and an array of diverse soils. Despite the limited size of the vineyard, it showcases a considerable range of environmental conditions, making it prime land for grape cultivation.

With a strong emphasis on organic farming, Equinox is steadfast in its belief that such methods best allow wines to exhibit their terroir. This commitment to organic cultivation began in earnest in 2006, with the 2013 vintage being their first certified organic batch. It's noteworthy that Equinox stands out as the sole wine producer to receive organic certification from both local and European eco-certification authorities.

The vineyard boasts a diverse portfolio of grape varieties. Red varietals, which occupy 87% of the vineyard, include the indigenous Rară Neagră and Feteasca Neagră, complemented by international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Carménère, Merlot, Malbec, and Saperavi. The vineyard also nurtures white varieties like Fetească Albă, Fetească Regală, and Chardonnay, and there are select vines of Băbească Gri and Pinot Gris interspersed.

Tracing back the vineyard's history, the initial plot was designated for Cabernet Sauvignon in 2002. This was soon followed in 2003 with the addition of Shiraz, Malbec, and Merlot. Recognizing the challenges in sourcing indigenous varietals, Equinox took the initiative to commence their own selection and grafting process, particularly focusing on Rară Neagră from older vineyards around the Olănești vicinity. By 2005, the first plot dedicated to Rară Neagră was established using their select vines. With time, as more indigenous varieties became accessible in the market, there was an expansion in the areas dedicated to these varietals.

The wine is a distinctive blend composed of five red grape varieties (hence the name) cultivated at the Equinox Estate, situated near Olănești village. This blend has undergone a maturation process of 28 months within oak barrels.

In terms of composition, the blend consists of the following:

  • Rara Neagră: 45%
  • Cabernet Sauvignon: 25%
  • Merlot: 12%
  • Carmenere: 10%
  • Malbec: 8%

Only 2,500 bottles produced.

Equinox Echinoctius 2018

Type
red still, dry
Region
Ștefan Vodă, Moldova
Producer
Equinox
Vintage
2018
Grapes
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Rară Neagră
Alcohol
14.8
Price
1100 UAH
Equinox Echinoctius 2018

This wine secured the 🥇 1st place in our wine tasting lineup.

"Echinoctius" seems to be derived from "equinox", which refers to the time or date at which the sun crosses the celestial equator when day and night are approximately equal in length. This can symbolize balance or harmony, which may be relevant in the context of the wine's character or the winery's name, Equinox.

Echinoctius is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (60%), Merlot (25%) and Rară Neagră (15%). This blend has undergone a maturation process of 30 months in oak barrels. Only 2,230 bottles produced.

Raw scores

WineGrishaHanna TOleksandr ROleksii KoOlga PDaria BIryna LRostyslav YaDimitry GBoris BAnna Kh
4.004.004.003.803.303.703.204.003.703.703.40
2.803.503.303.204.003.503.403.703.353.703.40
3.503.303.603.403.003.503.403.503.503.603.35
3.503.303.903.503.503.403.803.403.403.203.50
3.003.803.703.703.503.603.703.803.703.803.40
3.804.204.204.004.303.704.104.004.303.904.30
4.004.204.204.004.203.804.104.204.204.004.30