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Knights of the Vine RUSSIA


Best of Wine 2008
Text Charles Borden

Best Wine Boutique

There are essentially four wine boutique chains in Moscow: Grand Cru, owned by importer Simple Wines; Kauffman shops, owned by importer Whitehall (VX Import); the Magnum and Decanter shops owned by importer DP Trade; and Kollektsiya Vin. They all have good high end wine selections but Kauffman gets the Best award nod for stocking a fair number of imports under 600 rubles, a rarity at the others.

VIP wine section at Metro

Best Supermarket Wine Shopping

Azbuka Vkusa, which is at the expensive end of the market for groceries, stocks an extensive line of very good wines, including some you won’t find anywhere else.

Best Wine Bargains

If you can get a Metro membership card (only representatives of legal organizations, not private individuals, are eligible for membership), their prices are the best in town and the selection is not bad, especially at a location where they have a VIP wine section (such as at 2 B Ul. Shosseinaya, Tel. 495-502-1900/502- 1978, open 24 hours). Metro is the place to buy case lots for the New Year party.

Best Russian Wines

Fanagoria winery

The French-built and -run winery opened in the Krasnodar region in 2003 Chateau Le Grand Vostock is still well ahead with no close competitors on the horizon. This year Prime Minister Putin has been getting regular shipments and shared some bottles with French President Sarkozy. These wines make good value party wines: We recommend the entry level Terre du Sud white and red at 178 rubles and the oak-aged Cuvee Karsov midmarket red and white at about 415 rubles. Order online for delivery and ask for a Passport Magazine discount.

Other Krasnodar wineries, Fanagoria for its Cabernet and Merlot (449 rubles) and Myskhako for its white wines, come in second. Both wineries have been assisted by flying Australian winemaker John Worontschak to create lines of decent Russian wines.

Biggest Surprise of the Year

It’s been over a year but we still can’t get over the surprising defeat at a Passport blind wine tasting of five of France’s best Champagnes by a $20 Crimean Novy Svet Pinot Noir Rose Brut 2002. The story even made the London newspapers. Still a good bet for a New Year celebration.

Best “What Do I Bring Home from Russia Instead of a Matryoska Doll”

  • Samogon from Stavropol region’s Praskovaya Winery available at the Stavropol Wine and Cognac shop.
  • Fanagoria Winery’s Chorny Leker and Bely Leker, dark and light sweet and rich herbal wines from Kransodar region. A sure hit with Russian guests.
  • Tsimlanskoye Sweet Red Sparkling wines “made in accordance with a traditional Cossack method.”

Best Wines Over $100

Antinori Cervaro Castello della Sala 2006 (Italy)
A Tuscan white, Cervaro is primarily Chardonnay (85%) moderated with the Italian domestic grape Grechetto. It scored a Wine Spectator 94 and high in Passport wine tastings.

Dalwhinnie Chardonnay 2005 (Australia)
A Grant Dodd import, this Chardonnay has been named best white more than once at Passport wine tastings.

Clos Mogodor 2001 (Priorat, Spain)
This red wine has a Wine Spectator 95 and Parker 98. Wine Advocate described it: “simply sensational, this inky/purplecolored 2001 boasts gorgeous blueberry and raspberry liqueur characteristics intertwined with crushed stone, lilac, and subtle background espresso/toasty new oak notes.”

Kaesler WOMS 2004 (Barossa Valley, Australia)
Another Grant Dodd import, a Shiraz (62%) and Cabernet Sauvignon blend.

Best Wines $25 to $100

Grand Cru

Sigales Santorini (Santorini, Greece)
Surprise, a Greek white wine — there have been some real improvements in the industry, thanks to self-taught winemaker Paris Sigales who holds a degree in mathematics at the Sorbonne.

Montes Limited Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2005 (Colchagua, Chile)
Bright, crisp — just what you need from Sauvignon Blanc.

Domaine Huet Le Haut-Lieu/Domaine
Huet Le Clos du Bourg
Or any other white Vouvray from this extraordinary biodynamic winery. On my Christmas list.

Gaja Ca’Marcanda Estate Toscana Promis 2004
This is the entry level Super Tuscan Merlot-Syrah-Sangiovese blend from Ca’Marcanda, a Gaja estate near the village of Castagneto Carducci.

Seghesio Zinfandel (Sonoma, California) 2005 or 2006
There are three Seghesio Zins available in Moscow, and they range from 1,013 to 1,705 rubles — these may be the best of the few California red wines in town.

Best Wines Under $25

YellowTail Shiraz 2006 (Australia)

Hardy’s Stamp Series Riesling/
Gewurtztraminer 2007
Hardy’s is Australia’s giant but they know how to produce consistent wines from year to year that consumers love.

Orca Bay Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand)
The highest score for a white at Passport’s New Zealand winetasting.

Emiliana Novas Chardonnay 2006 (Casablance Valley, Chile)
An organic Chardonnay.

Heartland Stickleback White 2006 (South Australia)
A blend of Chardonnay, 32% Verdelho, 16% Semillon. Very tasty.

Salento Primitivo 2005 (Italy)
Sells at Sedmoi Kontinent for under 500 rubles — a bargain price for such a superb wine.

YellowTail Shiraz 2006 (Australia)
This Shiraz is one of the world’s biggest sellers to be found in almost any country.

Vina Falernia Sangiovese 2005 (Elqui Valley, Chile)
An Italian classic grape from an innovative winery in Chile’s northernmost wine district. Well structured and smooth.


DP Trade Shops

30 Bolshaya Polyanka
(495) 238-3808

Magnum 24 Kutuzovsky Prospekt
(495) 937-6515

20 Ul. Plyuschkina
(495) 775-0674

40/2 Prechistenka
(495) 775-2305

Kauffman Shops
22 Kutuzovsky Prospekt
(495) 243-2238
3 Ul. Kuznetsky Most
(495) 624-0464
27 Ul. Ostozhenka
(495) 291-3671

Kollektsiya Vin
18 Kutuzovsky Prospekt
12 Novinsky Bulvar
20 Ul. Tverskaya
16 Leninsky Prospekt

Grand Cru Shops
Novinsky Passage
31 Novinsky Bulvar
(495) 775-5553

Chateau le Grand Vostock
10 Gogolevsky Bulvar
(495) 783-7463

Stavropol Wine and Cognac Shop
12 Ul. Malaya Gruzinskaya
(495) 252-1408

Massandra (Kriymskikh Vin)
15 Komsomolskiy Prospekt
(495) 247 0096

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