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Knights of the Vine RUSSIA


Looking Back on Wine in 2009
Text by Charles W. Borden, photos by Alina Ganenko

he financial crisis had some direct effects on the Moscow wine market. Initially, imported wines became a relative bargain – rouble prices did not change as the currency depreciated, so a 450 rouble bottle that was almost $20 before became $13.50. As the year wore on, importers adjusted prices upward to accommodate increased import costs as the older stock cleared.

Supermarkets such as Sedmoi Kontinent appeared to adjust buying strategies to peg rouble prices at pre-crisis levels to keep the majority of bottles in the 250- 500 rouble range. This meant that lower quality imports replaced some better wines on the shelves. Most boutiques just increased their prices since their customers are not particularly price sensitive.

Best Supermarket Wine Shopping

Azbuka Vkusa remains the best supermarket for selection of wines at various price levels from value priced to expensive. They stock an extensive line of very good wines and some you won’t find anywhere else. Sedmoi Kontinent now runs a distant second. Globus Gourmet gets a prize for excessive prices, quite an achievement in this market – go to a boutique for these wines and save, a lot.

Best Wine Bargains

If you can get a membership card, their prices Metro certainly has the best prices in town and the selection is more than adequate. The only catch is the requirement of a membership card to shop at Metro.

Best Wine Boutique

The boutiques are generally owned by importers so they usually have the best prices for a particular wine, though the stock is mostly expensive to very expensive. Kauffman gets the nod for best boutique for stocking a very good line of wines priced under 600 roubles. In addition, Kauffman has been deeply discounting some of its stock, notably Australian wines. It looks like the other three principal boutiques, Magnum and Decanter shops owned by importer DP Trade, Grand Cru owned by importer Simple Wines, and Kollektsiya Vin, have given up on wines under 1000 roubles.

Best Russian Wines

There has been some reportable progress in the Russian wine industry in 2009, and domestic producers have been winners from the financial crisis. Though the French built and run Chateau Le Grand Vostock is still the leader, Fanagoria and Myskhako wineries, with the help of Australian flying winemaker John Worontschak have some competitive offerings. Also, the Fanagoria and Myskhako wines have better availability in Moscow – Myskhako opened a shop on Old Arbat across from Hard Rock Café and Fanagoria wines are regularly available at Sedmoi Kontinent and other retailers.

Passport Wine Event of the Year

Early in the year Passport tasted samples from the five firstgrowth Bordeaux chateaux. At over $600 per bottle from one of the wine boutiques, we learned a lesson in Russian wine retailing – these wines, which should have been some of the world’s best, were, well, disappointing would be an understatement. Wine shoppers take heed; fine wines require excellent transport and storage, which appeared sorely lacking in this case.

Impress your Russian guests with your knowledge of Russian wines on New Year’s Eve

Tsimlanskoye Sparking (478 roubles), a sweet purple wine made “in accordance with an ancient Cossack method.”

Novy Svet Pinot Noir Brut (577 roubles), a very dry rose sparkling wine made by classically, a wine that bested some French Champagnes in a Passport blind tasting in 2008.

Abrau Durso Classic Brut (616 roubles), a classic Champagne style wine from this historic winery on the Black Sea.

Try Fanagoria’s dry Merlot, Cabernet Saugivnon or Chardonnay wines produced from vines imported from France in 1997 (just before the last crisis). Fanagoria’s Chorny Leker and Bely Leker, dark and light sweet and rich herbal wines, are a sure and inexpensive hit with Russian guests

 Samogan (moonshine) from Stavropol region’s Praskovaya Winery (available at the Stavropol Wine and Cognac shop on Maly Gruzinskaya).

I’m often asked what to get for party and banquets this time of year. Chateau Le Grand Vostok is my usual answer – the prices are reasonable and many people appreciate to know that a good wine can be made in Russia, expats and Russians alike.


DP Trade Shops
Decanter, Bol. Polyanka 30, Tel: 238-3808
Magnum, Kutuzovsky Prospekt 24, Tel: 937-6515
Magnum, Ul. Plyuschkina 20, Tel: 775 0674
Vinum, Prechistenka 40/2, Tel: 775-2305

Kauffman Shops
Kutuzovsky Prospekt 22, Tel: 243-2238
Ul. Kuznetsky Most 3, Tel: 624-0464
Ul. Ostojhenka 27, Tel: 291-3671

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

Grand Cru Shops
several in Moscow including:
Novinsky Passage, Novinsky Bulvar 31.
Tel: 775-5553

Chateau le Grand Vostock
Gogolevsky Bulvar, 10
Tel/fax: 783-7463

Stavropol Wine and Cognac Shop
Ulitsa Malaya Gruzinskaya 12
+7 495 252 1408

Massandra (Kriymskikh Vin)
Komsomolskiy Prospekt 15
+7 495 247 0096

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