The tiny country of Moldova, only a new former Soviet republic that emerged in 1991, has some pretty competitive wine on the market for such a small country. Considering its 4.5 million inhabitants, it is pretty impressive to think it’s the 7th largest wine export in the world.
Being brought up in South Australia, I have high expectations on my wine and vineyards. I’ve been quite spoilt in my upbringing to be brought up around such a beautiful region of incredible landscapes with hilly vineyards, and cottages for wine tasting.
When we were told Moldova had great wine and a beautiful famous winery, I was eager to take a look and taste. I hadn’t had a decent glass of red in a while and was excited to try something a little different on our trip than cheap beer.
From the capital of Chisinau, we were told to take a taxi for 20 minuets to the famous winery of Cricova. Overlooking a flowing river, the old stone building stood the gateway to the underground cellar of Cricova wine and a labyrinth of hidden tunnels.
The mini bus took us scooting underground into the chilly air of the tunnels, as we wound our ways through the 120 kilometres labyrinth of underground cellars. The cellars were made out of the tunnels from the 15th century, when the limestone was extracted from the ground to build the town it sits under. In the 1950s the tunnels were turned into a cellar, the second biggest in the world. I couldn’t help but think this was a far better use, and more enjoyable experience, for ancient limestone tunnels than the catacombs in Odessa.
We stopped off at various points, exploring the underground factory, warehouses and hundreds of barrels preserving wine. The wine museum was one of the best things to see, with 1.25 million different bottles from all over Europe. The oldest wine dating back to 1902, it also stored bottles of famous leaders such as Putin and Hermann Göring.
When we finally got to try the wine, I was really impressed. Sitting in an underground, old fashioned Moldavian style room, we tried a few various styles of Cricova’s wines. My favourite was the red wine, but the white really impressed me considering I’m not normally a white drinker.
The whole trip only takes a couple of hours from departure to return to your accommodation. The bus there and back is really simple to catch, and for half the price of a already cheap taxi. A taxi there and back only costs about $10USD, so if you have a group of people this is probably your best option. Remember to dress warm, the tunnels remain at 12 degrees all year round, the perfect temperature for storing wine.