Cricova wine cellars is next to Milestii Mici most famous wine complex in Moldova. It’s not just hundreds of kilometers of underground cellars and corridors, where wine is produced and stored, but also more than 500 hectares of vineyards and more than 5,000 tons of harvested grapes per year.
Tunnels, which are used today for production and storage of wine are much older than the winery itself. Their story started few million years ago, when Moldovan land was covered with shallow waters where on the bottom some specific layers of limestone were formed of dead animals’ shells. Today this rock is a good building material and while its acquisition corridors and tunnels being are a part of Cricova complex were created.
1). Vine is one of the oldest plants in the world – it has more than 10 million years. Many varitetes, fertile land and sun are the secrets of Moldovan wines. Some of the local Moldovan varietes of grapes have gained worldwide fame and become widely known kinds. Nobody has ever stolen Moldova’s sun but the soil some have already tried – during the Second World War Germans exported it by trains from Moldova.
2). Most people consider “the older the wine, the better” as the greatest truth in the world but the reality is different. Most of the wines should be drunk within few years after their manufacture, only a small percentage of really good ones you can store more than a dozen years and only the noblest ones may be aging tens years from the date of production. The key issue is of course the quality of the fruit used to make the liquor. Cricova is proud of their collection of century-old wines still good for consumption. What is interesting, many wines from their collection, which are no longer good for consumption change into jelly and slowly become solid. These surprising processes taking place in the wine are still being studied by oenologists.
3). Perfect temperature for wine maturation is 12 – 14 degrees Celsius and humidity of 80%. Those are the conditions that are to be found in the tunnels of Cricova. But the biggest advantage of this underground environment is their stability throughout the year, because every change in the conditions of storage is much worse for wine than the mismatched constant parameters. Any fluctuations have negative influence on bottles tightness. The reason for it is different physical properties and reactions of cork and glass. For the perfect conditions it is very important to keep light or vibration out the room and this is why tourists are not admitted to cellars most precious liquor, neither on foot, nor by car. Those ideal for maturation conditions make even the greatest of this world store their liquors here. Not only Vladimir Putin but also Angela Merkel are said to keep their wines in Cricova.
4). In Cricova we found also underground sparkling wines production, carried out by traditional champagne method. In special stands, in upside down position, bottles of wine are kept. Every two weeks winery employees come and turn them around so that any sediments were gathered at the cork. They keep on doing it for three years. After that time sludge is being removes and cork replaced all that by freezing the neck of the bottle. Of course this method is used only for the best wines, all the others are made by rapid maturation. Well known, budget sparkling wine Russkoje Igristoje is being made in this place.
5). Wine collection in Cricova is slightly smaller than in Milestii Mici. It was initiated with the collection of nazi officer Göring, in whose cellars couple thousands of liters of best European wines were found. Collection was transfered to Moldova as compensation for war damage. Currently it is 1.2 mln bottles and 640 types of wine of the value hard to be estimated. The oldest wine in collection is a festive dessert wine produced on the areas of present country of Israel in 1902.
6). In addition to international varieties they successfully grow local vine varietes in Moldova. These are among others Feteasca Alba (white), Feteasca Regala (white), Feteasca Neagra (red), Rara Neagra (red), and Viorica (white). All that is being controlled by the Institute in Chisinau which even grows some frost and disease resistant varietes. There are quite a few sparkling wines produced in Moldova mostly of pinot noir and chardonnay – willingly used for the production of sparkling wine using above mentioned classical method of production.
Cricova is an exclusive meeting place for Moldovan elite. The underground halls have even been a seat of Moldovan government. Imagine that in the complex located 85 meters below ground they have a room with genuine fireplace. That must be one of the lowest located fireplaces in the world. The legend says that Vladimir Putin celebrated his birthday here. Also Jurij Gagarin, famous astronaut, has visited Crocova and after getting lost in the cellars for few days when he found the way out he supposedly said:
It is easier to get off the ground than to get out of Cricova cellars
Aby zdać sobie sprawę, jak wielkie są korytarze, jak potężne beczki w sobie kryją i ile butelek szampana jest przechowywanych w piwnicach zobaczcie film z naszej podziemnej podróży: