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Russian wine producers have agreed to stop calling their sparkling wines Champagne, and are working towards creating geographical indications or appellations.
At a sparkling wine fair over the weekend in Russia’s wine producing area of Abrau Durso, producers got together to showcase their wines to Russian restaurateurs, wine industry professionals and journalists.
Boris Titov, owner of Abrau Durso, said: “We see our problems – we’re trying to build up the infrastructure of a professional society [of Russian producers], which will include technology, tasting, marketing and allow us to interact.”
On Saturday, as a first step, producers signed a protocol, developed alongside the Comité Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne, committing to use the term sparkling wine rather than Champagne on its wine labels. “It’s a very important decision – we’ve been working on the issue for the last two years, and initially producers thought, ‘why should we?, we’ve been using the term for centuries’,” said Titov.
He said an important aim for the association would be to carry out a survey of the Russian wine industry, analysing its potential domestically and internationally. He said producers need to know “what steps should be taken in turn Russia into a new world wine province”.
Titov added that it also needs to work hard to “convince the Russian government that wine is not part of the pro-alcoholisation of the country – it’s the opposite”.
Titov admitted that the standard of some Russian winemaking is “still low”, blaming outdated winemaking technology. But he said the combination of good terroir, planting good vines, employing foreign wine consultants and the increasing use of technology that reaches European standards, were helping speed up improvements. The government should help with the “huge investment” required in grape production, added Titov.
Denis Roudenko, who runs a tasting club in Moscow and also blogs, said that although some of the country’s wines are “not so good yet”, they have “very good potential to develop”. He said that period of time wineries have had to develop – only around eight years – was too short to be able to best evaluate which varieties should be grown there. Roudenko believes that there is a place for both indigenous and international varieties – the latter being vital as “we need to have something to compare ourselves to”.
Moscow-based importer Slava Tzmailovs, from Fine Wines Russia, said the Russian wine industry was “like Portugal 50 years ago”. He said that while Russian wines could have great quality, producers “need to suffer now, and go through the tough times in terms of image”.
“They have to spend a lot of energy, be patient, and continue to focus on quality over quantity,” he added.
Story by Gemma McKenna
Courtesy of Harpers Wine and Spirit Trades Review