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Knights of the Vine RUSSIA


In Grand Havana
This month’s wine tasting was held at Moscow’s Grand Havana Room (, a private cigar club off Slavyanskaya Square. The wines sampled are as follows.
Text Charles W. Borden
Photos Sergei Koshkin

Robert Mondavi Chardonnay Private Selection 2005 (California)

Robert Mondavi, the Napa wine legend, passed on this year in May at age 94. His Robert Mondavi Winery had been sold in 2004 to drinks giant Constellation Brands. After the sale, Constellation kept Robert on as “Ambassador for Wine.” In the years before the sale, Mondavi had become disenchanted with the winery’s lowend strategy of producing Woodbridge and Coastal supermarket wines that he felt degraded the winery’s reputation. Constellation apparently agreed because it separated the low-end brands from the premium Robert Mondavi wines.

Robert’s original Robert Mondavi Winery in Napa produces high-end Napa Valley wines. You will find nary a sign of the Constellation name or Woodbridge or Coastal on the Robert Mondavi Winery website ( The Robert Mondavi Private Selection that we tried in this tasting has its own website ( Private Selection wines hail from California’s central coast and are apparently the rebranded Mondavi Coastal wines, a slight cut above the basis Woodbridge label.

Domaine Drouhin Chardonnay 1998 (Oregon)

Oregon has made a name for itself in recent years with its whites and Pinot Noir reds. Domaine Drouhin is a venture of Burgundy’s famous Drouhin wine family, now in the hands of its fifth generation. Fourth generation Robert Drouhin, who acquired the Oregon vineyards in 1987, described his dream: “I would like to think that one day people will taste Oregon wines, and particularly our wines, and will say ‘it is really true to the classic Burgundian Pinot Noir. Not a Côte de Beaune, not a Côte de Nuits, but uniquely Oregon.’” For this tasting we tried a 10-year-old Chardonnay, which should be well past the end of its useful life, and our score showed it.

Antinori Cervaro Castello della Sala 2006 (Italy)

This Tuscan (Umbria) wine from Marchese Piero Antinori’s Castello della Sala estate is a personal favorite and the high-scorer of this tasting. Cervaro is primarily Chardonnay (85%) moderated with the Italian domestic grape Grechetto. Wine Spectator also liked this wine, giving it a 94 and saying it had “[c]omplex aromas of cream, ripe apple, mineral, and blanched nuts, even flowers. Full-bodied, with lots of fruit and a long, long finish. Intense and beautiful. Like a great white Burgundy.

Stephen Fisher, Natalia Zorina, Scott Perrelli

Val & Emily Serebrany, Seville & Shiraz Mamedov

Kim Waddoup, Svetlana Orlova

Pierro Chardonnay Margaret River 2003 (Australia)

The Margaret River is Australia’s premium Chardonnay region. Pierro is one of the pioneers in the area, which was first developed by Italian immigrants. In the 1960s, experts cited the district’s “climate and soil as being comparable to that of Burgundy,” the source of the best Chardonnay wines in the world — Meursault and Montrachet.

Domaine des Comtes Lafon Meursault-Charmes 2002 (France)

Historically, the Burgundy districts of Meursault and Montrachet have produced the world’s grandest white wines. Tastes change and Chardonnay is no longer king; France’s Chardonnays have challengers from California to Australia. But there is still something wonderful about one of the great French whites. Lafon is one Meursault’s great estates, and this wine should have been our high scorer. After all it got a Robert Parker 94-95.

Mount Mary Yarra Valley Quintet 1999 (Australia)

Mount Mary is a favorite of wine buffs. The Quintet is a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, and Petit Verdot, seasoned on new French oak. Wine Spectator gave it 88.

Catena Alta Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 (Argentina)

Argentina’s Catena Alta makes single varietal wines from its family vineyards in the Mendoza region.

Château Palmer Palmer Alter Ego 2003 (France)

Château Palmer is one of the top producers of the Margaux district of Bordeaux. Its Alter Ego is an alternate selection and blend of the chateau’s traditional grapes first produced in 1998. Robert Parker gave the 2003 an 88, describing it as “[s]oft and superficial…possess[ing] luscious fruit as well as immediate drinkability.”

Château Mouton Rothschild 2004 (France)

Château Mouton Rothschild is one of the greatest names of Bordeaux. The 2004 received a 94 from Parker and a 93 from Wine Spectator, which described it: “Beautiful aromas of crushed berries and chocolate with hints of Indian spices. Full-bodied, with silky, velvety tannins and a long, caressing finish. A lovely wine for the vintage. This is the first wine from the new winemaking team at Mouton and is showing really well.”

Knights of the Vine

John Ortega, Fashion Mart

Charles Borden, RestaurantVote.Com 

Stephen Fisher, Citigroup

Yelena Baldonova, Office of Federation Council Member V. B. Malkin

Shiraz & Seville Mamedov, SJS USA

Val & Emily Serebrany, Medisan

Natalia Zorina, VOGUE Russia

Scott Perrelli, USA Embassy Association

Geoffrey Cox, Astera Realty

David Lane, Tablogixx Logistics

Kim Waddoup, AIG Group Real Estate

Svetlana Orlova, Vista Foreign Business Service

Laura Bridge, Executive Chef

Ortega Easy Rating System

I love this wine! 5 pts.
I really like this wine! 4 pts.
This wine is good! 3 pts.
This wine is not that good! 2 pts.
I don’t really care for this wine! 1 pt.

1 Robert Mondavi Chardonnay Private Selection 2005


610 r. $25 3.35
2 Domaine Drouhin Chardonnay 1998 (Oregon) 1 944 r. $79 3.25
3 Antinori Cervaro Castello della Sala 2006 (Italy) 2 644 r. $108 4.28
4 Pierro Chardonnay Margaret River 2003 (Australia) 1 661 r. $68 3.65
5 Domaine des Comtes Lafon Meursault-Charmes 2002 (France) 6 982 r. $285 3.40
1 Mount Mary Yarra Valley Quintet 1999 (Australia) 4 305 r. $176 3.46
2 Catena Alta Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 (Argentina) 1 410 r. $58 3.26
3 Chateau Palmer Alter Ego 2003 (France) 2 991 r. $122 3.70
4 Chateau Mouton Rothschild 2004 (France) 13 406 r. $547 3.75


This month we selected several well-known staple red wines, widely available internationally, and in Moscow are good value, reliable red wines.

Wine ORS
Description Where Price
Fortant de France Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (Vin de Pays d’Oc, France) 3+ Deep ruby, balanced and smooth, slightly fruity, typical Cabernet, without much tannin. Magnolia RUB 369
Barton and Guestier Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Vin de Pays d’Oc, France) 3+ Very similar to the Fortant Magnolia RUB 369
Chateau Los Boldos Merlot 2006 (Rapel Valley, Chile) 4- A Merlot with characteristic Bordeaux style, good fruit, and smooth tannin. This winery, though not quite organic, avoids chemicals in its vineyards. Sedmoi Kontinent RUB 399

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