Friday, 20 December 2013

Massandra for interesting wine in Moscow

Buying wine in Moscow so often seems like doing a tour of the most familiar brands but there are places where a more discriminating hand is at work and one of these was Massandra on Komsomolsky Prospekt.

Here were wines from Moldova, Ukraine, even Georgia as well as from the fledgling Russian vineyards of Rostov-on-Don. Here's what we bought;

First, a Bastardo (aka Trousseau) from Inkerman, a name known to every British schoolboy at one time in connection with an important battle in the Crimean war. There are a lot of Port grapes grown in the Crimea. This is one of them.

This was in the main disappointing although it had the surprising virtue of lasting for days after being opened and even improving.

Then came something altogether rarer as its name suggests, a Rara Neagra Purcari from Moldova

Rare it might be; rare it can remain if this is as good as it gets. Surprisingly for us, this received a Decanter award. Were we missing something?

There is a surprisingly large amount of Aligote grown in Eastern Europe. Having once tasted a divine Californian Aligote wehave been very interested to see how this variety fares in other regions outside Burgundy. This one was much nearer to the French model than the American one - so its significance is more as a product which avoids import costs than something distinctive in its own right.

We had tasted Tsimlyansky from Vedernikov in the Rostov-on-Don area (Russia) at Excel in London. This bottle was more tannic than we had remembered and less approachable but we like Tsimlyansky and believe it has a future.

 Now for a discovery. Also from Vedernikov was this interesting bone-dry white called Sibirkovy. According to 'Wine Grapes' this is a variety introduced from Dagestan in the middle ages and found along the banks of the river Don. Our bottle was corked but we had drunk this wine at a Japanese restaurant on the same visit and found it fascinating.

There were lots of sweet wines on offer; the Russian taste still favours these which is a good thing. For how long is another matter.

At GUM, among the brands, we found a few Russian wines including some of the above.

Our majot purchase here was Vedernikov's Krasnostop Zolotovsky. Again, Krasnostop (Red Stalk) was something we had already tasted in London thanks to Vedernikov's participation at Excel. We loved it then and it was to become one of the stars of the East and West tasting a few weeks later in London.

So all in all our visit was not disappointing. There are surely many more interesting bottles to be found in Moscow. We had not even touched on the sweet wines of which there are many and no doubt other shops have things we would want to take home with us.

The majority of wine shops are more like 'Grand Cru' near the US Embassy where brands predominate. Perhaps once Russian winelovers have had their fill of these they will support their own indiginous producers and those of what President Putin calls the 'Family' of nations on their borders. They deserve it.

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