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Moldovan Wine, the Cricova Complex and the Russian Boycott
August 12, 2006 5:39 PM   Subscribe

Moldovan wine was famous throughout the former Soviet Union. The centerpiece of its industry was (and is) a huge network of caverns known as Cricova where Stalin supposedly stored the remnants of Goering’s wine collection. The collapse of the Soviet Union brought extreme economic hardship to Moldova. In the midst of this hardship, the Russian Government imposed a ban on Moldovan (and Georgian) wines and cut off access to their largest export market. You might want to consider their plight if you visit the liquor store this weekend.
posted by jason's_planet (11 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
wow, great post. I'm fascinated by former soviet bloc countries. Sadly, I live in a state where my time window for visiting a liquor store this weekend is just about over. :/
posted by xthlc at 6:57 PM on August 12, 2006


Any thread what encourages me to buy alcohol is a good thread.
posted by Sailor Martin at 7:38 PM on August 12, 2006


I agree about the quality of Moldovan wine, but then again it could be because I was born in Kichinev and grew up on it. Usually that's the only kind of red wine we have at family gatherings. I didn't even know about the ban until I visited Russia this summer, it seems like people were pretty disappointed they couldn't get it anymore. If I remembered correctly I think a lot of people started drinking Romanian wine, but I'm not quite sure.

Yay to drinking!
posted by vodkadin at 8:59 PM on August 12, 2006


What are some of the more common Moldovan wines in the U.S.? Recommendations?
posted by LarryC at 9:24 PM on August 12, 2006


LarryC: to be perfectly honest with you, I'm not an expert on the topic and Moldovan wines are fairly obscure in the U.S. A couple of weeks ago, I had a bottle of Lidia semi-sweet, which was pretty good, and was imported into the U.S. by a company called Doyna, who list some of their offerings at that link. (Contact information here.) They might be able to hook you up with a distributor where you live.

Are there Russians in your community? Are they concentrated in a particular neighborhood? If so, the local liquor store would probably stock Moldovan and Georgian stuff.

wow, great post.


Thanks!

what encourages me to buy alcohol is a good thread.

Yay to drinking!

Indeed!
posted by jason's_planet at 10:00 PM on August 12, 2006


Playing the Moldovans at Tennis is a fun, light read if you're curious about the country.
posted by euphorb at 11:07 PM on August 12, 2006


According to this oddly-written site, (with pictures) the "caverns" "Having appeared as the result of the traditional extractive activities in this place, Cricova Cellars are in fact a former building materials mine." Apparently a limestone mine.
Also, ". . . labyrinths with an unique microclimate. Here, all the year round, the temperature is constantly of +10-+12 °C while the relative air humidity is about 97-98%." This is not unique, or even remarkable. Dig a hole deep enough in the ground anywhere and you'll create a microclimate with a constant temperature that's more or less the average for that (surface) location, and often with high humidity. The constant, near-average temperature is why you can comfortably tour Carlsbad Caverns (in NM) in mid-Winter wearing sandals and shorts, but if you wear the same outfit in Howe Caverns (in NY) on a hot Summer day, you'll be chilled.

It seems that Caves have long been recognized as the ideal environments for aging and storing wine. Mines, too, apparently.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:39 AM on August 13, 2006


Great post! I was vaguely aware of the Moldavian wine industry, but almost all the details were new to me. I have to point out, though, that the fact that "Moldovan wine was famous throughout the former Soviet Union" says nothing about quality—Soviet consumers were not exactly connoisseurs of fine wine, and the Moldavian stuff I've had has been crap. On the other hand, it was El Cheapo crap obviously imported because it could be sold at two bucks a bottle, so I'm perfectly willing to believe there's a lot of good stuff I haven't had the opportunity to taste. But don't get your hopes up for what you're likely to find at your local liquor store, unless it happens to be run by someone with a particular interest in Moldovan wine. (I'll never forget the experience of discovering the huge Greek wine section in Grand Wines in Astoria: you mean there's something other than retsina? The xynomavro grape doesn't taste like anything else and makes fantastic wine... but I digress.)

I was a bit taken aback by this, from the second link:

tasting wine at 10:00 a.m. didn’t seem like a good idea, especially since we would be bowling later that afternoon

You're not actually supposed to drink the wine at tastings, you're supposed to taste it and spit it out. Sure, most nonprofessionals, including me, do drink it, but if I had the chance to taste samples from an amazing collection like that, a chance that I'd probably never get again, I'd happily do the spit-bucket thing. (If, that is, I was concerned about being at the top of my game for some later activity; frankly, drinking at 10 AM doesn't sound all that appalling to me.)
posted by languagehat at 6:07 AM on August 13, 2006


I wonder if I can find Moldovan wines in Canada, anyone know?
posted by Vindaloo at 9:16 AM on August 13, 2006


(A) Moldovia also makes stunningly beautiful hand-woven NZ wool area rugs.

(B) There are scads of caverns and such in the Okanagan, explicitly for wine cellaring. Indeed, our "The Rise" development across the valley will have the option of installing a cavern for each home. (!!)
posted by five fresh fish at 2:54 PM on August 13, 2006


Great post!

Thanks!

But don't get your hopes up for what you're likely to find at your local liquor store, unless it happens to be run by someone with a particular interest in Moldovan wine.

Good point. Very good point.

Moldovia also makes stunningly beautiful hand-woven NZ wool area rugs.

(I see a potential post in this one.)

Indeed, our "The Rise" development across the valley will have the option of installing a cavern for each home. (!!)

Wow! Like communities of amateur pilots with personal runways. That's neat!
posted by jason's_planet at 1:58 PM on August 15, 2006


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