Moldova is a tiny country between Romania and Ukraine. Though it was geographically the smallest state of the former Soviet Union, it had the second largest area under vine only after Ukraine, its large northeastern neighbor, and was Russia’s largest source of wine through much of the 20th century. Petrified grape seeds and amphorae dating to 2,800 BC have been discovered in Moldova, proving it to be one of the world’s oldest producers of wine. White wine comprises a little over two thirds of production; imported European varieties are most prevalent for both white and red wine.
With generous fruit and supple tannins, Merlot is made in a range of styles from everyday-drinking to world-renowned and age-worthy. Merlot is the dominant variety in the wines from Bordeaux’s Right Bank regions of St. Emilion and Pomerol, where it is often blended with Cabernet Franc to spectacular result. Merlot also frequently shines on its own, particularly in California’s Napa Valley. Somm Secret—As much as Miles derided the variety in the 2004 film, Sideways, his prized 1961 Château Cheval Blanc is actually a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.