Medaled wines at Top Moldova 2023 competition

Medaled wines at Top Moldova 2023 competition

On June 12th, 2023, the first wine competition dedicated exclusively to wines from the Republic of Moldova took place at the initiative of and Corks Cozy Bar, in Bucharest.

I had the pleasure of being invited to be part of the jury, so today I come with fresh news about the contest, about the medaled wines and with a few words said by Cezar Ioan, the initiator of the contest, during a short interview.

The competition collected 101 samples that were tasted blindly by the 4 committees present. Each committee was formed by 5-6 jury members. Each committee judged around 25 samples and graded the wines according to the established grid: wines that received between 85-89 points were awarded the Silver Medal, those with 90-94 points were awarded the Medal of Gold and those that had at least 95 points received the Great Gold Medal.

I was part of commission no. 2 and I am glad that we also had a Great Gold Medal unanimously offered by the commission members. It was to the wine Individo Merlot & Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 of the Château Vartely winery.

I was to learn later, at the announcement of the medaled wines, that Château Vartely won not only one Great Gold Medal but two, the second being given to  Taraboste Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot 2018 wine, plus other gold medals. Since I arrived for the first time in Moldova on that first winery tour where I discovered my passion for wine, Chateau Vartely was the first winery visited so I can't help but be happy from the bottom of my heart that this winery has achieved such a performance!

Returning to the contest, I asked Cezar to tell me more about the idea of this contest precisely because it is a new contest on the market in Romania. In what follows, I let the questions from the interview flow and at the end you will also find the medaled wines.

Carmina Nițescu: Hello Cezar! Thank you very much for agreeing to talk a little about the latest wine competition organized by

Cezar Ioan:
I thank you, Carmina, and I hope that the discussion will be of interest to your audience.

Carmina: Tell me, please, where did you get the idea of a contest with wines exclusively from the Republic of Moldova. I know that you also organize other wine competitions, including the " Excellence Awards", which refers to Romanian wines. How did you come up with the idea of wines from Moldova?

I keep hearing in my professional circles, in discussions with Romanian wine producers, what success they have started to have, especially in the premium and super premium segments of wines from the Republic of Moldova. Most of the time, they even talk with envy and concern about this success, but unfortunately they do not understand that this is the result of sustained and joint work by their colleagues across the Prut (river). Beyond the producers, which interest me less, it seems important to me that the consumer public talks about and consumes these wines: some names of wineries from the Republic of Moldova are much better known than many others, with a greater age, from Romania. For them it seemed important that we take an x-ray of quality - as it is perceived by professionals in academia, wine production and among sommeliers and retailers.

Carmina: What was the process of entering the contest? Did you go to the wineries or have direct requests from them? Did the wineries have a certain limit of wines they could enter?

We notified the wineries both through direct messages (e-mail) and through the National Vine and Wine Office of the Republic of Moldova, and Mrs. Elizaveta Breahnă, from there, did us the favor of passing it on to their members. There was no limitation on the number of samples, but wineries that wanted to enter wines had to pay an evaluation fee. Beyond these wines registered by the producers - which were about a third of the total of 101 samples - we bought new wines from the Romanian market, free of charge, at the expense of our partners equally involved and interested in enlightening the domestic public.

Carmina: The judging categories were white, rosé and red wines, fortified wines and sparkling wines. How many samples were entered in total and how many medals were awarded? I know there is a self-imposed limit on giving out a maximum number of medals based on the total number of entries.

Samples - 101, although we would have liked more. The medals were limited to 1/3 of the total evaluated samples, this is the system at the Vinul.Ro contests. In total, there were only 3 Great Gold Medals (over 95 points out of a possible 100), 12 Gold Medals (scores between 90-94.9) and 19 Silver (scores between 85-89.0). It would still have been the same with Silver averages - but we believe this self-limitation makes the competition even more relevant, we don't want an "inflation" of medals.

Carmina: The results have just been revealed on website and the users of the application can find the medaled wines here. 2 medals went to the same winery, for wines from two different ranges. Please tell me something about these and the judging process.

Obviously, no evaluator knew the identity of the evidence presented. They are scored, in different weights: the visual appearance of the wine, the aromas (quality, intensity, authenticity), the taste (balance and quality, persistence) and the overall picture (harmony, balance between aromas and taste) - so the success of the Château Vartely, since it is about them we talk, it seems to me more important. It is important to know that the final average is one that must bring together the votes of a majority of the jurors, especially when it comes to scores of such importance - Great Gold Medal.

Carmina: Tell me about expectations. Did you have certain expectations related to this contest, considering the experience with the contests you have organized for so many years? How do you think the medals won here help winemakers and consumers?

The only expectation was to manage to organize everything as correctly as possible from the point of view of the evaluation process (ambient and wine temperature, table service, glasses, electronic scoring system, etc.) and as transparently as possible. We would have liked more wines entered by producers, but they are probably considering other ways to strengthen their image on the Romanian market - something that I hope will change not only in relation to our competition, which will be repeated annually, but also with any other fair competitions that basically build the image of Moldovan oenology in the eyes of the public here. I was glad that we were able to organize a competition strictly focused on wineries from the Republic of Moldova, I think that way they will receive more attention. We also want to inform our public more about the wines and wineries there - precisely because they have an increasing importance in the eyes of the public and in the commercial process. Regarding the medals, I think they are very useful both for producers, who have something to brag about without bragging themselves, and in the eyes of consumers, who really need independent certifications as credible, as visible and as many as possible . Personally, I strongly believe that SCORES FOR EACH PRODUCTION LOT are also extremely important - in fact, even more important than medals, as they reflect quality in a more nuanced way - but that's a discussion that requires more space and reader attention than it allows this interview. If you want, I will gladly be at your disposal in the future, to explain why the scores seem more important to me.

Carmina: Cezar, thank you very much for the information. Next time!
I thank you too. Next time!

GREAT GOLD MEDALS (red wines):
  • Barbaro 2019, Fautor
  • Taraboste 2018, Château Vartely
  • Individo 2017, Château Vartely
You can find the detailed list of all the medaled wines at the Top Moldova 2023 competition here, on the website.

Who were the evaluators of the wines from the Republic of Moldova judged at TOP MOLDOVA

The evaluation commissions were composed of:
  • Prof Dr Arina Antoce, USAMV Bucharest;
  • Laura Copil, WSET Level 4, owner of VINO wine bars;
  • Ruxandra Chendi, WSET Level 3, CORKS founder;
  • Mirela Mateescu, WSET Level 3, founder of A46 Venue;
  • Carmina Nițescu, WSET Level 3, founder of Winesday App, wine tastings and wine tourism events organizer;
  • George Cojocaru, oenologist and consultant;
  • Liviu Gheorghe, DipWSET, Winelover Romania member;
  • Sergiu Nedelea, founder of WineTaste School, sommelier, co-owner of wine bar UVA;
  • Daniel Zottu, sommelier and oenologist, Ostrov Domains;
  • George Ignat, sommelier, member of the National Federation of Authorized Tasters from
  • Romania (FNDA) and Winelover Romania;
  • Teo Runceanu, sommelier;
  • Ovidiu Logigan, co-owner of CORKS wine bar, master's degree at USAMV Bucharest, graduate of Eurosommelier courses;
  • Mihai Vasile, sommelier, wine importer, owner of;
  • Sorin Ștefan, wine distributor;
  • Zoli Toth, conceptual artist, wine lover, creator of the show on ecology themes ECOFrequency (RFI);
  • Daniel Vrănescu, sommelier;
  • Marius Gheorghe, sommelier;
  • Dan Gheorghe, sommelier;
  • Adrian Badea, wine promoter;
  • Mihai Vișoiu, sommelier;
  • Gabi Alexe, co-owner of Bucătăria.localfood.

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