Five Decanter World Wine Awards judges gathered at Decanter’s headquarters to taste through Château Purcari’s range, in a tasting that showcased the quality and diversity of wine styles that Moldova can produce. ‘All the wines we tasted showed overall quality, complexity, depth and balance,’ said Serdar Balkaya, one of the invited judges. Dilyan Kolev agreed: ‘I was really impressed with the high quality of the wines together with their great value.”
Château Purcari is both a modern, well-equipped winery and a snapshot of Moldovan wine history. It counts its foundation from 1827 when it was recognised by Russian Emperor Nicholas I as the first specialist winery in Bessarabia. The estate began its latest privatised era in early 2000s when it was totally renovated, with quality always at the core. From the start, CEO Victor Bostan recognised that owning vineyards and managing them correctly was the only way ton ensure fruit of the right quality. Château Purcari owns 300 hectares, all handpicked by a longstanding team. With decades of experience behind them, and having replanted most vineyards in 2003, the winery now knows which plots deliver the best grapes for its flagship wines. As Beth Willard highlighted, ‘there’s now lovely confidence in the terroir and the vineyards telling the story, and less reliance on oak and winemaking.’
Château Purcari’s newest Academia range focuses exclusively on local grapes, with low intervention winemaking in clay amphorae, and reduced use of SO2. Willard was impressed by ‘the purity and expression of indigenous varieties that spoke of the region.’ She highlighted the Academia Viorica: ‘I loved its balance and varietal expression.’ Others agreed that this skin-contact orange wine struck a lovely balance by showing complexity while keeping its varietal expression. Amphora versions of regional flagships Rară Neagră and Fetească Neagră also scored well. Kolev added that ‘the focus on local indigenous grape varieties to express identity and authenticity are certainly prerequisites that should contribute to [Purcari’s] success.’
On the international stage
International varieties also play a role in highlighting the quality potential of the region. Pinot Noir showed well both as a refined traditional method sparkling rosé and in a red version. Balkaya described the latter as ‘a lovely enjoyable glass of Pinot Noir in a Spätburgunder style.’ Saperavi is arguably international as it is more commonly associated with its Georgian homeland, but it arrived in Moldova as early as 1870 where it seems to have found a second home. It is a key ingredient in the iconic Negru de Purcari blend, but also captured the judges’ attention attention in single varietal expressions. The Academia version was described by Balkaya as ‘arguably the best Saperavi I have tasted for a long time.’
Another star was the signature Negru de Purcari, a limited-edition, barrel selection from the excellent 2019 vintage. The blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Saperavi and Rară Neagră will repay tucking away for at least another year or two, to allow full expression of its glorious fruit. The enjoyable Freedom Bend also deserves a mention. First created in 2011 to celebrate 20 years of independence, it blends Georgian, Moldovan and Ukrainian grapes. Its meaning continues to resonate today and profits are being donated to support Ukrainian refugees.
To sum up, in Willard’s words, ‘a really lovely tasting.’
Standout wines from Château Purcari
Cuvée de Purcari Brut Rosé 2019 92
Lovely red berry nose with fine aromas of ripe strawberry and raspberry, enveloped by floral and biscuity notes. Quite delicate on the palate with attractive creamy texture and well balanced acidity. Crisp and complex. Very well crafted.
£29.95 Transylvania Wine, The Broadway Deli
Alb de Purcari 2019 92
Creamy butterscotch and spice notes combine to create an enticing and complex nose. Refined oak on the well-balanced palate, with intense yellow fruit, peach and baked apple. Attractive fennel and herbal notes on the finish. Great balance, with uplifting acidity and decent length.
£27.95 Transylvania Wine, Amazon UK
Viorica de Purcari 2021 92
Charming aromas of white flowers, stone fruits, orange and peach blossom. The palate is fresh, zippy acidity and peach and lime. Some herbal and floral nuances. A bright, fresh and appealing wine with a unique identity. Drink 2022-2024
£15.95 Dvino, Vinomondo, Novel Wines, Turton Wines, Martinez Wine, Transylvania Wine
Academia Viorica 2020 93
A great gastronomic amber wine with aromas of white peach, ginger, mandarin zest and Turkish delight. Complex, mouthfilling and textured palate, with caramelised orange, peach, apple and pain d’épices. Good acidity and a firm, saline grip to the finish.
£49.95 Transylvania Wine, Amphora Cambridge
Vinohora Fetească Neagră & Montepulciano 2021 92
Refined and elegant notes of wild red berries, orange blossom, red apple skin and morello cherries topped by a touch of spice. Creamy in the mouth, with ripe cherries and touches of plum and nectarine. Good length, with a line of freshness. A textural gastronomic rosé.
£19.95 Transylvania Wine, Amazon UK
Academia Saperavi 2019 96
Intense blackcurrant, black tea and smokey spice on the nose. Powerful yet balanced with layers of inky black fruit, dried cherry, herbs and mocha. Lovely texture and great precision. Concentrated and polished with great length. An outstanding wine.
£49.95 Transylvania Wine, Amazon UK
Academia Rara Neagră 2019 95
Fine complexity on the nose with wild raspberry, a hint of coffee and red cherry notes. The palate shows inviting redcurrant and blackberry fruit, elegant fine-grained texture and lovely freshness. Lifted, spicy finish. Offers a lot of wine and personality at this price point.
£49.95 Transylvania Wine, Amazon UK
Negru de Purcari Limited Edition 2019 95
Cassis laden nose, with cedar spice, coffee, chocolate, and a touch of vanilla in the background. The palate is rich and generous, packed with bilberry, tobacco and mocha spice. Fresh lift at the end. A harmonious, balanced and complex wine with great structure and ageing potential.
£39.95 Transylvania Wine, Amphora Cambridge
Pinot Noir de Purcari 2020 94
Poised red fruit aromas and mineral undertones, reminiscent of a classic Spätburgunder. Flavours of red and black fruit with surprising freshness for Pinot Noir from the region. Balanced acidity, poise and elegance.
£19.95 Transylvania Wine
Academia Fetească Neagră 2019 93
Rich, powerful and concentrated nose of forest fruit with sweet spices, dark chocolate and sweet mocha. Intense flavours of blackberry, plum, and dark chocolate- coated cherries. Ripe and seductive palate.
£49.95 Transylvania Wine, Amazon UK
Maluri de Prut 2020 93
Notes of forest fruit, cherry skin and bramble, with a touch of vanilla. Ripe plummy fruit in mouth, with hints of dried cherry, clove and vanilla. Well-handled supple tannins provide a good backbone. An appealing blend with a real sense of place.
£19.95 Transylvania Wine, Novel Wines, Amazon UK
Freedom Blend 2020 92
Rich and bold, with amazing concentration of damson, blueberry and chocolate topped by spicy notes. A juicy, fleshy wine with well-defined flavours of blackberries, liquorice, wild herbs and kirsch. Firm structure and good length, with lingering chocolatey notes.
£19.95 Martinez Wine, Mitchells Wine, Turton Wines, Old Cellar, Transylvania Wine, Amazon UK