Endless Summer in Moscow
Ever wonder – while we in the Big Onion pray for continued Global Warming, peering out the window each dark morning to see if a meter of snow has blocked our door – what are they doing in Australia? Golfing, surfing, diving, tanning, and popping some shrimp on the barbi. Winemakers are tending their grapes in anticipation of the March harvest.
With the help of Australian PGA golfer turned wine afficionado Grant Dodd, we flew off to Australia’s vineyards for a night of Chardonnay and Shiraz. Grant has teamed up with Collier’s Preston Haskell to bring some of Australia’s best to the Big Onion. He contributed many of these wines, which literally arrived last week, for this round. We topped up his selection with other top Aussies we found in Moscow’s boutiques and ended up playing through our own 18 holes + 3: a whopping 15 Shiraz and 6 Chardonnays. Shiraz (or Syrah) and Chardonnay are the flagship grapes of Australia, and these provide the widest selection of Australian wines in Moscow.
Our course was Correa’s on Bolshaya Ordynka, and New Yorker turned Russian restaurateur Isaac Correa personally hosted the evening. This was my first visit to Correa’s. Knowing that I probably would not want to drive home, I took the metro and sludged the short distance from Tretiakovskaya to Bolshaya Ordynka 40. There you turn off the street into an office complex courtyard and another world, bright and clean – I could almost imagine I was in Australia. Correa’s occupies a small corner with a modern, no nonsense design that complements Isaac’s menu. He has really hit a great value-price ratio. I arrived early and fortified myself with the Buffalo Mozzarella with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil (290 rubles), one of the best of this type I have had in Moscow. The entree would come much later, at the end of our work. After playing our course of 21 wines, it is a tribute to the chef that I still remember the wonderful Grilled Beef Medallion (550 rubles).
Grant Dodd led us through the complete lineup with a running commentary about Australian wines, vineyards, and wine regions. The Chardonnays served as a warm-up, all good and generally representative of the class. Then we went to the Shiraz, Australia’s serious reds, beginning with Clarendon Hills Australis 2003, considered by some to be the face of the country’s red wines. Our commentator described it: “Parker discovered and made this winery famous. It’s an extreme wine, with everything pushed to the edge of the envelope.” The expensive Australis was played first to provide a comparison for those to follow. But as you can see by the scores, it is impossible to justify its price – it was bested by many of the others at a seventh of the Australis price.
John Ortega, Robert Norton, Eric Boone, Bruce Jones, Clayton Lyndon, Grant Dodd
The Australian wines, with few exceptions, scored highly. I am convinced that a shopper in Moscow will seldom make a mistake with the wines of Australia, South Africa, and the few available from New Zealand in most price categories. The selection from Australia is the broadest of the three.
Best wishes to our readers for the coming year – let’s hope that Santa brings a better selection of wines to Moscow at reasonable prices. Grant came as an early Santa, but it looks like Australian Santa’s don’t have beards, or hair for that matter. By the way, I forgot to ask Grant – how does Santa get around Australia – in a golf cart pulled by kangaroos? Endless Summerin Moscow
Timuri Lomsadze, Hans Koelman
Jeff Combs, Elena Serebryakova
David Lane, Gerald Gaige
Gerald Gaige, Kim Balaschak
Grand Dodd, D&H Fine Wine Export and PGA Pro
John Ortega, Publisher, Passport Magazine
Charles Borden, Director, Meridian Capital
Kim Balaschak, Business Development Director, IMS-Group
Eric Boone, Director – Corporate Services, Colliers International
Alexander Bojko, Gallery du Vins
Jeff Combs, NCI Telecommunication and International Apparel
Geoffrey Cox, Chairman, Astera Real Estate
Julia Evdokimova, President, Palais Royal Wines
Gerald Gaige, Partner, Ernst &Young
Daniel Klein, Partner, Hellevig, Klein, Usov
Bruce Jones, First Secretary, Australian Embassy
Hans Koeleman, CEO, AMS
David Lane, General Director, Tablogix
Timuri Lomsadze, ICT International Group
Clayton Lyndon, President, IAMATAMA, Australia
Robert Norton, British Business Club
Paul O’Brien, Owner, Starlite Diners, Uley and Guillys Restaurants
Elena Serebryakova, International Moscow Bank
Maxim Valetsky, Director, Mr. Doors
Local Wines of the Month. Russian Favorites
Fanagoria Winery Black Healer and White Healer
To spice up your life and keep your warm and well.
Our tastes are dictated by decades or centuries of cultural experience. Russian wine tastes, long isolated from French and California wine imperialism, took another evolutionary path, or at least were stalled on the road to development. The Russian people have grown up with sweet wines, either fortified, high alcohol dessert types, like Kagor or Smile, or slightly sweet Muscat wines. Take this into consideration when you prepare a holiday table for Russian guests.
There is no shortage in Moscow of sweet wines from Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, but the difficulty is to find authentic grape wines produced at a winery where grapes were grown. One of my favorite Krasnodar wineries is the Fanagoria Winery, the largest independent in Russia. In 1997, Fanagoria planted new Merlot and Cabernet grapevines imported from France and these now produce dry wines from their Numeric Reserve collection. But more interesting, and sure to please many of your Russian guests, are their Black Healer and White Healer wines, fortified sweet wines aromatized with local herbs and spices. Available at Aromatny Mir (AM) wine and spirit shops.
Ortega Easy Rating System
||I love this wine|
||I really like this wine|
||This wine is good|
||This wine is not that good|
||I don’t really care for this wine|
|Tasting Notes: White Wines|
|Nantua Les Deux Chardonnay 2001
Cranes Eden Valley Chardonnay 2002
Yattarna Chardonnay 2000
Piccadilly Valley Chardonnay 2002
Moonambel Chardonnay 2001
Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2004
|Tasting Notes: Red Wines|
|Astralis Reserve Shiraz 2003
Eden Valley Shiraz & Viognier 2001
St. Henri Shiraz 1996
The Struie Shiraz 2003
Moonambel Shiraz 2001
Oscar Semmler Shiraz 2003
St Jakobi Shiraz 2003
EstateBarossa Shiraz 2003
Stonewell Red Nectar Shiraz 2004
The Bogan Shiraz 2003
Old Vine Shiraz 2003
CreekSpringflat Shiraz 2003
CreekYellow Hammer Hill 2003
Reserve Shiraz 2002
|Key: Shown above are vintage year, ruble price, equivalent USD and rating. |
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This is Passport Magazine’s sixth wine review from our rotating panel of distinguished ‘degustators.’ Passport publisher John Ortega recently founded Knights of the Vine Russia http://www.kovr.ru, which is dedicated to introducing and recognizing quality wines from around the world and rekindling the respect of wine and wine culture for mankind. KOVR is affiliated with the French Chevaliers du Cep and American Knights of the Vine. In the coming year, we are planning the continuation and expansion of Passport's wine series and welcome new members. Passport's monthly wine review will be sourced from a monthly KOVR wine tasting, which will continue to be the warm business-social event of our past events. See our website for membership information.