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Friday, Oct 30, 2020

Inside Vladimir Putin’s Outrageous Underground Wine Cellar In Moldova

Separated from Russia by Ukraine, the tiny Republic of Moldova operates the state-owned Cricova wine cellar, and is President Vladimir Putin’s personal wine playground when he visits.
There is a spectacular underground world, deep beneath the rolling hillsides near Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, in a location that is the least visited country in Europe.

Separated from Russia by Ukraine, the tiny Republic of Moldova operates the state-owned Cricova wine cellar, and is President Vladimir Putin’s personal wine playground when he visits.

The wine cellars of Cricova is the second-largest wine cellar in Moldova, only under the Guinness World Record holder, nearby Mileștii Mici. With 75 miles of winding underground tunnels and mazes 250 feet below sea level, the 15th-century limestone former mining caves at Cricova were converted into the luxurious wine retreat in the 1950s.

Featuring cars, a red mini-train, and according to members, even a gold plated buggy for President Putin when he visits, Cricova is a popular tourist destination. Visitors love to travel through the vast underground streets complete with traffic lights and road signs named such as Cabernet Street and Sauvignon Street. Every street matches the name of the wine that is stored in the adjacent walls.

The 130 acres of the winery include five large tasting rooms with decadent furnishings and wood carved by Moldovan artisans.

Among them; the European Hall established for Congress and business meetings; the Sea Bottom tasting hall with original limestone ceiling and piped in underwater sounds, the Presidential Hall where high- level meetings take place including hosting dignitaries from around the world, the Fireplace Room created for private, intimate dinners, and The Big House built to look like a traditional Moldovan House complete with wooden beams.

The winery was established when Moldova was a member of the Soviet Union in 1952. It now produces over 150 types of wine, from Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot to Rkatsiteli, Aligote, and Sauvignon.

It is known as the first Moldovan company that manufactures sparkling wine by the method of the monk Dom Pierre Perignon. Visitors say there are five women who manually rotate each of 35,000 bottles daily.

The Cricova cellars contain a remarkable collection of Oenotheque wine, created in 1954. The collection includes almost 1.3 million bottles of wine, each one of with its own special qualities and unusual history.

The wines were collected from around the world. The most regarded of the collection is the red desert wine “Easter Jerusalem.” It is the only collection in the world that has survived from the 400 original bottles created in 1902.

There is also the unique Jan Becher liqueur, produced in 1902, in Czechia, containing extracts of 27 medicinal herbs.

The most notorious collection of the Oenotheque is the one that belonged to the infamous Nazi commander-in-chief, Hermann Göring. It includes almost 2,000 bottles, such as Mosel, Bordeaux, Porto, Tokay, and Chablis.

All wines were produced from the grape harvested in the 1940s.

The wines were taken by Göring from the countries occupied by Germany. After the war, the wines were first taken to Moscow by Soviet soldiers as a prized military possession and they were mostly consumed.

The remainders of the collection can be found now at Cricova.

Among the dignitaries and world leaders who have visited the Cricova Winery are German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US Vice President Joe Biden.

Putin has had his own personal wine collection in Cricova since 2002. Every politician who visits the winery is given the honor of a personal dedicated wine collection with a custom placard. And now that the President of Moldova is pro-Russian, the cash hungry country may benefit by an eventual lifting of a previous economic embargo on Moldovan exports.

For visitors who want to experience this amazing wine world, the ultimate package is the Premium Gold options, which include the tour as well as a private tasting room experience with 11 wines offered for tasting. Also included are gourmet meals and a souvenir box with sparkling and red wine.

The total price is $185 per person. The traditional tasting package is only $65 per person.
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