Moldova or Dacia has been making wine for at least 4,000 years, and flourished as a winemaking area under the influence of the Greek, Roman and Byzantine empires, becoming well established with the foundation of the Principality of Moldavia in 1359. Wine-making suffered a major setback when the area became part of the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century, and did not prosper again until Moldova became part of the Russian Empire in 1812. This led to a dramatic increase in vineyard planting, initially with indigenous grapes such as Rara Neagra, Feteasca Neagra and Feteasca Alba, but in the latter half of the 19th century with French varietals. It was at this time that the estate in Purcari was planted in the south eastern region, and quickly established an international reputation for its wines. After recovering from the ravages of phylloxera in the late 19th century, Moldova became one of the major wine-suppliers to Russia throughout the 20th century.
After the dissolution of the Soviet empire and subsequent 1991 Declaration of Independence, investment in wineries and vineyards raised the quality of the wines to levels last seen in the golden age before phylloxera, using both international and local grapes. The moderate continental climate, ameliorated by proximity to the Black Sea, and rolling countryside make this ideal terrain for growing grapes for wine. In certain areas winters are cold and dry enough to enable Ice Wine to be made. Moldova has the distinction that figures for 2005 from the World Health Organisation show it had the highest per capita consumption of alcohol of any country in the world, so perhaps we should be grateful that they can spare some of their wines for export. Martin Hudson MW, Wine Buyer