The independent state of Moldova was the first member of the ex Soviet Union to establish any sort of reputation as a wine producer abroad, with wine accounting for a quarter of its export earnings. Russia has always been a hugely important market for Moldovan wine, which is why Russia’s ban on the import of wine and meat from Moldova in 2006 was such a severe blow – although it has also acted as an effective stimulus to develop other markets and improve quality.

Sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine, both geographically and ethnically, it has its own very strong, if troubled, wine identity. An extraordinary 5% of this gently rolling country, with ideal conditions for wine production, is taken up with vineyard – much of it planted with export-friendly varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. Immediately after independence in 1989 the country’s wine industry attracted considerable interest from outside investors. Even Penfolds, the giant Australian wine producers, not to mention a fleet of flying winemakers, got in on the act. But those who invested in the country seem to have most patience with its unreliable infrastructure.

There is nothing wrong with Moldova's natural gifts as a wine producer, but those involved with trying to export bottled wine from the country still bear scars marked 'no decent corks', 'transport difficulties' and the like. This is still an area to watch.

In a nutshell

Right climate, lots of vines.