The Wine UndergroundWednesday, September 28, 2011 - Part 1
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Next on the itinerary: New Year's Jazz in Italy
Where is the largest wine collection in the world stored? Deep under the Moldovan plains, where over two million bottles are kept along miles and miles of underground roads of Milestii Mici.
This 200 - year- old labyrinth, a limestone quarry dug with hand tools by prisoners until 1960, then by machine, is 200 kilometers of winding tunnels, 55 of which are in use today.
In 1968 Moldovan vintners saw the caves and realized that they were the perfect environment, with the constant temperature and humidity, for storing wine.
Above ground are the wine fountains - take your pick, red or white. But just for show - the real deal is below ground.
Stefan, our guide, can keep us from getting lost in the caverns, and joins us in the bus as we descend underground, the large vehicle carefully turning onto bottle- lined streets named Chardonnay, Cabernet, or the local grape, Feteasca Negra.
The roads we're on are not lined with the best wines - who wants auto exhaust polluting their treasures? Those for keeping are carefully stored and labelled in the "houses" as they are called, on walking -only streets.
Each house can hold 1500 bottles, and as you can see, some of those bottles have been untouched for a looooong time!
The deepest part of the labyrinth is 80 meters underground. Behind heavy stone-backed doors is an elegant tasting room, where a group is entertained by musicians while they taste some of Milestii's treasures.
To be continued...