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The emerging Ukrainian wine industry is looking to raise winemaking standards to European levels – by working with foreign consultants and setting up a professional wine body.
Ivan Plachkov, the country’s former energy minister and founder of Kolonist Winery in the Odessa region, has set up the Ukrainian Bureau of Vine and Wine and the OIV about how to professionalise the industry.
Speaking at the first-ever UK tasting of Ukrainian wine, which took place yesterday at the Westbury Hotel in Mayfair, Plachkov described his project as “pioneering”.
Plachkov has already engaged the services of consultant winemaker Olivier Dauga, ‘le faiseur du vin’, in an effort to improve the standards at the winery. He is also hopeful of convincing politicians in Brussels to allow the Ukraine to keep using geographical names like Champagne and Port for the next 10 years, while the industry in in transition.
Dauga, who has now been working with Kolonist for four years, said one of the first problems he faced with Ukrainian wines was that many were oxidised. He said his initial task was to change the vinification process to prevent this from happening. This was challenging as “Ukrainian laws are quite restrictive and very different from how things are done in Europe.” He also introduced a way of working that “shows great respect for the environment” and brought in French oak barrels for maturing the red wines.
Dauga is planning to bring would-be Ukraininan vineyard workers to France in February 2012 to improve their knowledge on how to tend the vines. He also consults at Trubetskoy winery in Berisklav.
In Ukraine, private individuals do not own their vineyards, but lease them from the government, however Plachkov is hopeful that this will change over the next few years, and could make way for overseas investment.
Kolonist was founded eight years ago, and made its first wines three years later. It currently produces 120,000 bottles per year. The wines produced include Chardonnay, Aligoté, Merlot and indigenous varieties including Sukholymanske.
Kolonist wines, priced around rrp £14, are available in the UK through Premier Packaging & Design.
Story by Gemma McKenna
Courtesy of Harpers Wine & Spirit Trades Review