This week’s Wine Wednesday is about Rosu de Purcari from Chateau Purcari in Moldova. Purcari is an historic winery in Moldova and “in 1827, Emperor of Russia Nicholas I issued a special decree granting Purcari the status of the first specialized winery in Bessarabia.” They make many wines among them, this one which is a blend of international grape varieties, with 50% Cabernet-Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 10% Malbec, it was a perfect match for the hearty foods that graced our table. Black fruit and sweet spice, oak notes from the long aging in French barriques, 18 months, and a lot of sweet soft tannin were the hallmarks of this wine that I received as a sample in celebration of #MoldovaNationalWineDay on Saturday, October 3rd.
Moldova is in Eastern Europe, in the South East specifically and borders Ukraine and Romania. The Black Sea basin is said to be the natural home of the grape vine. The history of Wine of Moldova starts in 3000 BC, while the first vines were recorded here 7000 years BC. It’s climate is moderately continental thanks to it’s proximity to the Black Sea and the many rivers and streams that criss-cross the country. With a varied landscape, there are three principal historic regions known for wine: Valul lui Traian (south west), Stefan Voda (south east) and Codru (center).
The vineyards are 70% planted to white grapes and 30% to red. Much of the vineyard surface is planted to international varieties but there are also a host of indigenous ones such as Feteasca Alba, Feteasca Regala, Feteasca Neagra, Rara Neagra, Plavai, and Viorica. I have tasted a number of the indigenous varieties and wrote about them here and here.
This is the second wine I have tasted from Chateau Purcari, the first was a Pinot Grigio I tried this summer. The village of Purcari is home both to this winery and to the Agon Zograf Monastery. This area was of great interest to French wine merchants who found similarities between the soils here and in Bordeaux. The wines were considered very prestigious and at one point were as well known as their French counterparts in Czarist Russia. They graced the table of Emperor Nicholas II as well as King George V and Queen Victoria of Great Britain. Fast forward a couple of centuries and today Purcari has replanted many acres of vineyards and exports in more than 25 countries.
Chateau Purcari is owned by the Purcari Wineries Group which “managing around 1,000 hectares of vineyards and 4 wineries located in Romania and the Republic of Moldova: Purcari, Crama Ceptura, Bostavan and Bardar,”according to their website. Apparently they were the first company to list on the stock exchange of Bucharest in February 2018, the first IPO of a company with roots in Moldova. Chateau Purcari is also a tourist destination with a hotel, two restaurants and a host of activities.
The winery’s website has an interesting homage to a poet, Mihai Eminescu and has gone to the trouble of compiling translations and illustrations, videos and the like to introduce him to non-Romanian speakers. I liked this touch and found myself wanting to learn more about the poet. Apparently he was a gift young man who passed away at an early age but not before leaving seminal work considered part of their national heritage by both Moldovans and Romanians. Reading about the poet, I learned more about the complicated relationship of these two countries as well.
Life is funny in some way. I used to work as head of media relations for an Italian company that automated the stock exchange in Bucharest back in 2003, We held a big event there, I visited it and took pictures on the street where my maternal grandparents got married in the late 1890s. Part of my family is from the Hungarian minority in Romania.
From the wine glass I have now explored a new poet, reminisced about my family members of old, remembered an amazing trip to a Romania, considered the economic, historical and political past of a region of the world I know little about, and discovered a potential destination for a future vacation. This is one of the reasons I find wine at the center of it all. Wine is so much more than what is in the glass, it’s a way to discover the world.