June 2019 – ‘What! Moldovan Wines?’ – Aliona Braileanu & Irina Hriplivii

This was an evening of two firsts! The first time for an evening focussed on Moldovan wines and the first time that Novus BH Magister, the official importer of Moldovan wine in the UK, have visited our club. We had a wonderful evening with sisters Aliona and Irina, who set up the company along with Irina’s husband in 2016. Based locally in Guildford, they import a selection of red and white wines from their native country from which they had chosen 6 of their best for members to taste.  Although it is the smallest country in Europe, Moldova grows more vines per person anywhere and boasts the largest wine cellars in the World. Rather amusingly, Yuri Gagarin reportedly got lost in one of the cellars, although we don’t know at what point in his visit this occurred!  The country also has a long history of wine making, dating back to at least 3,000 BC and lies on the same latitude as Bordeaux.

Our presenters Aliona Braileanu & Irina Hriplivii

With its rather unusual name, Femme Fatale (2017, 12.5%) is made from native varieties Feteasca Alba and Feteasca Regala and proved to be an excellent start to the tasting, being fresh, dry and well-balanced; perfect for a hot summer evening. Our second (and final white) the ENO Riesling & Traminer (2018, 12%) a 70:30 blend of the two grape varieties, had a lovely floral and fruit aroma with a more pronounced flavour and more body than our first white. Perhaps it was these qualities that earned it the vote for ‘white wine of the month’.

Our first red of the evening, Polifonia Note No 1 (2016, 13%) made by the vineyard’s Spanish wine maker, is a blend of 47% Merlot, 7% Saperavi (a Georgian grape variety) and 46% Feteasca Neagra (an indigenous varietal which appears to grow well only in Moldova). With 9 months in French oak, this smooth wine had chocolate notes and a long finish. It was also very popular with members, although it didn’t quite win our vote for ‘red wine of the month’ which went to gold medal winner Negre (2017, 14%) as did the vote for ‘overall wine of the month’. This wine, made with 70% Rara Neagra (another indigenous varietal) and 30% Feteasca Neagra had a wonderful dark colour, plum and black fruit aromas and a beautiful full flavour with smooth tannins. The De Autor Blend No 2 Limited Edition (2015, 13%) was more complex with dry tannins and represented a rather interesting blend of the Saperavi, Shiraz and Malbec grape varieties.  Our 6th red of the tasting, ENO Reserva (2017, 13%) is the product of a Belgian collaboration and another unique blend made with 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 20% Saperavi. Also dark in appearance, we tasted black fruit and cherry on the palate along with a hint of roasted coffee. However, this fascinating and very enjoyable evening wasn’t finished yet! Irina and Aliona surprised us with a 7th wine, the Cricova (2016, 13%) from the Codru region of Moldova. Less complex than some of the other reds, this was a lighter, dry wine which demonstrated nicely the range of wines available from such a small country, but relatively big wine producer.

A selection of the Moldovan wines imported by Novus BH Magister