When, as sponsor of the ASI ‘Bootcamp’ in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wines of Moldova not only took a set of their wines to show international sommeliers, they also included a couple of examples from the Shabo winery in Ukraine, out of a spirit of solidarity.
The Bootcamp, which was the second event of its kind for the ASI, brings together around 50 young sommeliers from across the world for two and a half days of tough education and training. Subjects covered ranged from organic wines and California sub-appellations to the minutiae of sparkling wine service, and tutors included luminaries such as the world’s top sommelier Mark Almert and Toru Takamatsu, the youngest Master Sommelier in the world.
Wines of Moldova joined other sponsors such as Torres, Wines of California, Famille Perrin, Graham’s Port and AdVini, with a tasting co-hosted by Meininger’s associate editor, Robert Joseph who first visited the country in the Soviet era of 1988.
Joseph was joined on stage by Diana Lazar, representing Wines of Moldova who, after shipping the Moldovan samples, had hand-carried two bottles of Ukrainian wine from the Shabo winery across the border in Ukraine. As Giorgi Iukuridze, Shabo’s co-founder explains in this Meininger's interview, while exports of Ukrainian wine have continued, since the beginning of the conflict, sending samples has been almost impossible. To be sure of getting the two bottles – 2017 Grand Millésime Cabernet Sauvignon and a white from the local Telti-Kuruk grape to Kuala Lumpur, he personally delivered the bottles to Lazar’s office in Chisinau, the Moldovan capital.
Moldova's spirit of solidarity and generosity to its neighbour has been evident since the early days of the war. One of the smallest, poorest nations in Europe, it has welcomed over 200,000 refugees, the highest proportion per head of population for any country. This effort led Moldova to be dubbed ‘Small Country; Big Heart’ by overseas media, an expression that has begun to gain traction.
The Moldovan wine industry, which directly or indirectly employs 15% of the 2.5m population, has been particularly involved, finding space in its facilities for thousands of Ukrainians.
National Wine Day Goes Trans-National
Next month, for the first time, Ukrainian wineries, including Shabo, will for the first time, take part in Moldova’s National Wine Day, an annual event attracting 100,000 visitors and traditionally focused exclusively on Moldovan wine.
The Moldovan and Ukrainian efforts in Malaysia seem to have been worthwhile. The sommeliers were fascinated by the unfamiliar flavours of Moldova’s various Feteasca varieties and Rara Neagra reds as well as the Ukrainian Telti-Kuruk and several said that they would be looking to add examples to the Georgian wines they are already successfully serving to their more adventurous customers.
Declaration of interest: Robert Joseph acts as a consultant to Wines of Moldova