Moldova, a small country nestled between Romania and Ukraine, is a hidden gem in the world of viticulture. With a winemaking history spanning over 5,000 years, Moldova is home to some of the most exciting and unique wine regions in Europe. The country’s geographical latitude, fertile soil, the slopes of many river valleys, and the mild climate of the Black Sea make it an ideal location for vine cultivation. This article will delve into the top wine regions in Moldova for 2023, providing an in-depth look at the unique characteristics and offerings of each region.
Moldova’s Wine Industry: An Overview
Moldova’s wine industry is a significant contributor to the country’s economy, accounting for 3.2% of its GDP and 7.5% of its total exports. The country boasts the highest density of vineyards in the world, with vineyards covering 3.8% of the country’s land area and 7% of its arable land. The current vineyard area is 112,000 hectares, producing a variety of wines including still wines (88%), sparkling wines (6%), and special wines (6%). These wines are exported to over 30 countries and regions worldwide, with red wine making up 55% of the exports.
Moldova’s Wine Regions
Moldova’s vineyard area is divided into three main wine regions: Codru, Stefan Voda, and Valul lui Traian. Each region has its unique characteristics and specialties, contributing to the diversity and richness of Moldovan wines.
Codru Wine Region
Codru, the largest and most significant wine region in terms of area, is located in the hilly country between the Prut rivers and on the border with Ukraine. The vineyard area of this labyrinthine landscape is very fragmented, with vineyards located on hills and in river valleys. The climate is continental warm, but the many oak and linden forests ensure a moderate microclimate. White wines, in particular, thrive on the light, skeleton-rich floors. The main varieties grown here are Aligoté, Rkatsiteli, Sauvignon Blanc, and Merlot, as well as Saperavi, which is still from the Soviet era.
Stefan Voda Wine Region
The Stefan Voda region, located in southern Moldova, is the warmest zone. It is largely flat, with black earth soils rich in humus and a climate that is warm and influenced by the nearby Black Sea. This wine region is an absolute red wine region, with wines mainly obtained from Babeasca Neagra. The terrace vineyards around the city of Purcari produce the most famous red wine in the zone, the Negro Purcari. Other vineyards also grow Feteasca Negra, Pinot Noir, and the Chardonnay grape variety.
Valul lui Traian Wine Region
Valul lui Traian, located on the southern border with Romania, is known for producing some of the best red wines in Moldova. The soil is rocky and light, and the productivity of the wines is low. The area consists of steppes, plateaus, and forested hills. Much Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Feteasca Neagra are grown here, contributing to the region’s reputation for high-quality red wines.
Moldova’s Unique Grape Varieties
Moldova is home to a variety of unique grape varieties, including Feteasca Alba, Feteasca Neagra, and Rara Neagra. These local varieties account for 10% of the acreage and contribute to the uniqueness of Moldovan wines.
Feteasca Alba has been grown in this area for centuries. It produces fine white wines that are light-bodied, crisp, and floral. Another important local variety, Feteasca Regala, is a natural cross between Feteasca Alba and Formin grapes.
Feteasca Neagra originated in the Prut Valley of Moldova and has a cultivation history of over 2,000 years. Red wines made from it are rich in aromas of forest fruits and wild cherries, and have a fruity aftertaste that is very long.
Rara Neagra has been cultivated as early as the Geta-Dacian culture. This red grape variety is well suited to the sunny slopes of southern Moldova. Wines from Rara Neagra are crisp and smooth, with aromas of dried fruit and vanilla.
Moldova’s wine industry is a testament to the country’s rich history, diverse geography, and dedication to viticulture. The country’s unique wine regions and grape varieties contribute to the production of high-quality wines that are gaining recognition worldwide. As we look forward to 2023, Moldova’s wine regions continue to innovate and evolve, promising exciting developments for wine enthusiasts around the globe.