Wine drinking and, indeed, alcohol in general, often gets a rather bad press. While not denying the problems that come from drinking to excess nor the potential links to some medical conditions, there is another side to wine: the pleasure of sharing a special bottle and delicious, freshly prepared food with good friends – a view, I guess many readers will agree with.
But wine can go further and actually be a force for good. Part of the proceeds from sales of Purcari’s “Freedom Blend” (Novel Wines, £19.99) support Ukrainian refugees and the hotel on Purcari’s wine estate in Moldova has become a first stop for those fleeing the war in their country.
The idea for the wine began in 2014 following the annexation of Crimea by Russia but was given added impetus by the invasion of Ukraine by Putin’s troops earlier this year. Freedom Blend combines grapes from 3 countries – Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia – each, as Purcari’s CEO says, a victim of Russian aggression, and has resulted in a wine with “the heart of Georgia, the terroir of Moldova, and the free spirit of Ukraine”.
But however much I support the concept (and I do), I also want a wine that tastes good. And this one, which we shared with a close friend recently, did not disappoint. Quite deeply coloured, the aromas of blackberries and dried fruits follow on into the palate where the brief oak ageing combines to give savoury flavours of spice, chocolate and leather. Although 14% alcohol, it doesn’t feel like a particularly full-bodied wine; we enjoyed it with a hearty marsala-infused beef and celeriac casserole, but something a little less robust – grilled lamb chops, for example – might have worked better.
Freedom Blend is an inspiring concept combining native grape varieties from Georgia (Saperavi), Moldova (Rară Neagră) and Ukraine (Bastardo) and demonstrates the power of wine to bring countries and people together – despite those who have other ideas.