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  • Writer's pictureCláudio Giordano

Cricova cellars


Cricova is a city in Moldova, located 15 kilometers north of Chişinău, the country's capital. Cricova is famous for its wineries, which make it a popular tourist attraction and are, of course, unrivaled worldwide. Here, history, archeology and the art of winemaking found their strength and formed an authentic underground city. Currently, the wine city occupies an area of ​​51 hectares, and the underground galleries, transformed into streets, have a total distance of 120 kilometers. The labyrinths are located, in certain parts, at a depth of around 80 meters, depending on the relief of the terrain. Just like in a real city, here there are streets, traffic lights and road signs. Because the labyrinth paths have somewhat unusual names like Cabernet, Dionis, Feteasca, Aligote, Sauvignon -- names equivalent to the wines that are stored in the adjacent niches. The temperature in the underground galleries remains constant throughout the year, around 12 to 14°. The relative humidity of the air is around 97 to 98%. These natural conditions allow the conservation and aging of the highest quality wines, as well as sparkling wines, thus preserving their authentic characteristics.


These renowned wineries emerged as a result of the original exploitation of limestone mines in these places, so that the wineries are installed in the stone mines themselves. Many buildings in Cricova, Chisinau, Balti and other cities in Moldova were built using limestone extracted from this site. Such stones are still mined in some of the branches of the galleries, with which the underground city continues to grow.







NATIONAL COLLECTION


The Cricova cellars house a remarkable collection of wines – Oenoteca, which began in 1954. The collection includes almost 1.3 million bottles of wine, each with exceptional qualities and an extraordinary history. Unrepeatable specimens have been collected over the years from different parts of the world, all together they represent the precious treasure of both the plant and the country.


The pearl of the collection is the red dessert wine “Easter Jerusalem”. It is the only specimen in the world that has been preserved from the 400 bottles bottled in 1902. Another unique specimen is a liqueur also produced in 1902 in the Czech Republic. We are talking about Jan Becher liqueur, which is based on 27 medicinal herbs and which is still produced today.



The Oenotheque's most valuable collection, however, consists of that which belonged to Hermann Göering, Hitler's commander-in-chief of aviation and one of the most senior members of the Nazi party. It comprises approximately two thousand bottles of elite wine, from Mosel, Bordeaux, Porto, Tokay and Chablis. All wines came from vintages harvested in the 1940s. The wines were sequestered by Göering in the countries occupied by Germany; at the end of the war they were initially taken to Moscow by Soviet soldiers as a military trophy, most of which were consumed. The remnants are those found in Cricova.


New examples have been constantly added to the National Collection, either through exchanges with other wine collectors or through purchases abroad through the Associated Wine Factory. However, Oenotheque's main pride lies in the wines of Cricova, awarded with medals and diplomas in the most prestigious exhibitions and competitions.




TASTING ROOMS


The five main environments in terms of area, spaces and grandeur, combining elements of classical architecture with modern ornaments, provide the unique uniqueness of the Underground Complex; they are decorated with stained glass windows, tapestries and wooden sculptures, which comprise true masterpieces of the most famous artisans of Moldova.





“European Hall”


The stained glass windows of the famous “European Halls” give life to the vine in all seasons. In this room is also made a glass panel that represents the vineyards of the “Cricova” Combine. Here were created all the conditions for the organization of congresses, symposia, business meetings.






“Bottom of the Sea” tasting room


The name of the hall symbolizes the depths of the Sarmatian Sea, which existed here about 12 million years ago ( Miocene era), on the bottom of which the crusts of prehistoric mollusks were deposited and petrified. The originality of this room comes from the limestone ceiling, in its raw natural form, which is reflected as in a mirror in the aquatic decor with shades of blue-green. On the walls are painted decorative aquariums that give the room a touch of extravagance. At the same time, the hall is equipped with modern technology, thanks to which the true mysteries of the sea can be heard.





“Presidential Hall”


Many high-level meetings take place here, with state dignitaries and celebrities from our country and abroad. The room, very spacious, contains thematic images in the field of viticulture and vinification of the Republic of Moldova. Visual artists have created a broad vision inspired by the beauty of the ancient world. The antique atmosphere is created by the panels of the room, executed in a bright, rich range, full of elegance and refinement. The works are designed in bas-relief technique, preserving the classic traditions of ancient relief. Artwork and wooden furniture are of great value for the solemn decor of the room. Other elements of interior decoration are the monumental doors framed in marble frames.






“Fireplace Hall”

This room is distinguished by a noble interior, and the predominant element in the decor of this room is the fireplace, generating a warm and relaxing atmosphere. The range of colors of the interior and the decorations accentuate the hunting style. In a quiet and intimate atmosphere, guests will feel comfortable and completely free from daily worries. The “fireplace room” is a perfect place for a hearty dinner with friends or to spend a romantic evening.






“Big house”


This room is named after the most beautiful room of a traditional house in the rural area of Moldova. The hall is decorated with oak furniture, decorated with national decorative motifs. The rustic atmosphere prevails in this room due to the wooden ceiling with beams, which creates the impression of antiquity. As it should be, the walls of the “Great House” are decorated with embroidered towels and woolen rugs, all adorned with geometric and floral elements.







MUSEUM


The Underground City has a museum that features exhibits from all eras, describing in detail the history of wine production. Among the exhibits at the Cricova Museum is an engraved record of a vine discovered in the town of Naslavcea. This record dates back to the 5th century BC and confirms, once again, that wines have been produced in Moldova since the oldest ages. The museum also displays several tools and utensils that were used in ancient winemaking techniques. There are two wooden presses from Greece and the Roman Empire; in addition to them, a traditional Moldavian press used in the 19th century; Similar presses can still be found in the interior of the country. Another attraction available in some Moldovan homes and the Cricova Museum is a crusher used to crush the grapes. Clay amphorae, pitchers, wine bottles, barrel trolleys, etc. are other pieces that can be admired in the museum.





CINEMA


For the first time in the Republic of Moldova, Cricova inaugurated a stone cinema. Located at a depth of 80 meters, on the street “Lumière Brothers”, the cinema, which is modern and contemporary, can accommodate 40 people. It has been included in the tourist route, so visitors can watch the documentary film that describes the history of the “Cricova” Winery. Also, various events and public presentations can be organized here. The launch of this project brings an element of originality, distinction and contemporaneity to the rusticity of the cellars.



We owe to our friend Artêmio Bertholini (whom we thank) the news of this blog, which we prepared with information he extracted from the site:










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