A Moldova Phoenix Story – Castel Mimi

The wine castle at Castel Mimi, fully restored. Beautiful!

In 1893, Constantin Mimi founded his Castel Mimi winery and vineyards near the village of Bulboaca in what is today Moldova. He completed his viticulture and oenology studies in Montpellier, France. By the early 1900’s his wines were recognized internationally and especially loved in the Russian Empire.

Turbulent 20th century in Moldova
As a small country in Eastern Europe, sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine, Moldova (previously Bessarabia) went through a host of changes during the 20th century. The biggest change at Castel Mimi was the Soviet takeover of the Republic in 1940, the seizing of all private property and the transition of the Castel Mimi winery into a wine factory, one of the largest in the Soviet Union. International grape varieties were the only ones allowed, Moldovans were ordered to pull the vines of local varieties.

The plaza in front of the Castel was filled with huge steel wine tanks (not even stainless steel) photo courtesy of http://www.castelmimi.md

Wine production was ramped up and the winery was used to make cheap fortified wine for the workers of the Soviet State. The beautiful exterior of the Castel was plastered over so the workers wouldn’t be bothered with all that class system beauty.  In the cellars, the excavated cellar walls were tiled over so they could be quickly and efficiently sprayed down for cleaning.

A portion of Soviet era tiles on the stone walls in the cellars

Phoenix Rising from the Ruins
In 2011, a privately funded effort began to restore Castel Mimi to its’ original grandeur. It took time, as Moldova is not a rich country and investors were wary. However, the owners persevered and today the winery has been restored and then some!

Castel Mimi is an imposing facility. Turned into a wine factory in the Soviet era, this beautiful plaza was filled with huge steel wine tanks and the building facade was plastered over.

Disclosure: I attended a wine press trip to Moldova in 2019 which included a visit to Castel Mimi. The wines below were provided as samples.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Now, a Destination
The larger wineries in Moldova are working to establish the region as a wine touring destination, and the Castel Mimi resort was just in the opening process when we visited. If you have a Moldova trip in mind (once travel becomes possible), Castel Mimi would be happy to entertain you.

 

Castel Mimi Wines in the US
Moldova wines are not widely distributed in the US, but they are available at Vinovations via mail order here. Wine of Moldova USA thoughtfully provided me with some samples of Castel Mimi wines to complete this introduction.

Castel Mimi Rosu de Bulboaca 2015 (sample, $20 SRP) 14%abv
While local grapes are making a comeback, international varieties still account for the majority of production. Rosu de Bulboaca is a blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and is aged for at least 12 months in French oak barrels.
Eye: Clear, deep ruby color
Nose: Clean, pronounced intensity aromas of violets, ripe fresh plums, blackberries, blueberries. Oak is noticeable with aromas of dill, coconut and vanilla.
Mouth: Dry, pronounced intensity flavors which follow the nose, fresh ripe plums, blackberries, blueberries with vanilla and dill. Medium acidity, medium+ tannins, full body, medium alcohol, rich plush texture with a nice lingering finish.
Conclusions: This is a very good quality wine made in an international style. It is very flavorful, fruit forward with noticeable use of oak. It was delicious with our burgers and even took just a bit of a chill for enjoyment on a muggy summer evening.

Your only chance to try Feteasca Alba is with a wine from Romania or Moldova. Give this Castel Mimi a try!

Castel Mimi Feteasca Alba IGP 2018 (sample, $19 SRP) 13% abv
Feteasca Alba is a grape native to the regions of Romania and Moldova and was one of the varieties outlawed during the Soviet era. Grapegrowers kept a few vines hidden, hoping they might be able to make a return someday.
Eye: Clear, pale lemon color
Nose: Clean, medium intensity aromas of roses, honeysuckle, white blossom, fresh pears, fresh ripe yellow apple, fresh cantaloupe.
Mouth: Dry, medium+ intensity flavors which follow the nose with lots of floral elements followed by yellow apple and pear. Acidity is medium+, body is medium with a nice creamy texture. Medium alcohol and a medium+ finish. There is a slight note of bitterness in the finish; not unpleasant, just a touch of bitterness.
Conclusions: This very good quality wine has a nice refreshing floral nose and refreshing acidity. The creamy body helps the wine avoid being perceived as tart.

Comments
6 Responses to “A Moldova Phoenix Story – Castel Mimi”
  1. Andrea Lemieux says:

    What an incredible property!

  2. Great photos from your trip. Incredible story and come back for Castel Mimi.

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  1. […] Posted by foodwineclick on July 6, 2020 · 1 Comment  […]

  2. […] all about Castel Mimi’s remarkable “Phoenix” story from Jeff Burrows who visited August […]



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