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International Wine Tastings

Seasonal Sips for a Supper Soiree or Shindig

It’s that time of year again, a month of chaos and then stillness. Snow snarls traffic and shoppers sweep the aisles. Socials, soirees, suppers and all manner of shindigs crowd the afternoons and evenings....... (read more)

January 2012

Myskhako: war, peace and wine

It feels weird, to the point of claustrophobia, to stand in the tiny underground cell. The whole space measures no more than six square metres. The walls are lined with wood and the simple furniture consists of a wooden table and bench, with a metal stove in the corner....... (read more)

April 2011

Vinodelnya Vedernikoff: genuine Russian wine

That November morning was unkind. The milky white fog that had descended upon the river Don was thick and impenetrable. We were promised a magnificent view from the high right bank, but could hardly see beyond arm’s reach....... (read more)

February 2011


Vinzavod, literal translation “wine factory,” was the term used in the former Soviet Union and now in Russia for the plant and facilities that manufacture a grape-flavored alcoholic beverage called vino (wine)....... (read more)

February 2011

National Treasure

The sharp pop from a bottle of Shampanskoye echoes across every almost every home, restaurant and park in Russia at midnight on New Year’s eve, followed by a fizzy pour into any handy container....... (read more)

January 2011

New Year Wine Buyer Guide

This time of year I often get asked about wines for a company party, for a unique gift to take home for the holidays, or a Moscow New Year’s present for the boss. Here is my comprehensive 2011 Moscow Holiday Wine Shopper Guide...... (read more)

December 2010

Christmas Tipples

The holiday season is approaching fast. This is the time of year when we can finally relax and enjoy the company of family and friends. Wine is intrinsically linked to our sense of joy and conviviality. As such, it is a perfect festive drink. The ancient Greeks praised wine for its spirit of celebration, and we often recall that, too, when we rush to do our Christmas shopping...... (read more)

December 2010

New Harvest, New Wines

When you read these lines, the main wine harvest in the northern hemisphere will have finished. In the past few weeks, farmers in Europe, north America, even as far afield as China, were picking grapes and transporting them to wineries...... (read more)

November 2010

Winemaking Legend

Antinori is one of the oldest and best-known names in Italian wines with more than 600 years of grapes in the family tree. Based in Florence, Antinori is not just a big wine-maker, but it makes very big wines in the quality sense..... (read more)

May 2010

New Zealand Wines

This month, the Knights of the Vine took a trip to New Zealand courtesy of HSBC when the bank sponsored a huge wine event at the top of the Swissôtel. New Zealand wines, though fairly recent on Moscow wine lists, have become popular in the city..... (read more)

May 2010

Looking Back on Wine in 2009

The 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..... (read more)

January 2010

’Tis the Season: Wine Buyer Update

The past two Passport wine articles covered the Russian and Ukrainian wine industries respectively. Although there is seldom news on Russia’s wine industry to report during October, Jancis Robinson one of the world’s best known wine experts visited the Kuban to see several wineries that employ Australian flying winemaker John Worontschak: Fanagoria, Mysakho and the remnants of Sauk Dere..... (read more)

December 2009

Ukrainian Wine Country – Crimea

Ukraine has a long coastline along the northern Black Sea and western Azov Sea where vineyards are favored by the moderating influence of the sea and soils that provide excellent conditions for wine grapes.... (read more)

November 2009

Russian Wine Country Update

As you open this month’s Passport, the grape harvest is closing in Russia Wine Country, an area that stretches north and northeast of the Black Sea port of Novorossisk to the Azov Sea, where about eighty percent of the country’s wine grapes are produced.... (read more)

October 2009

Crisis Wine Buying

I remember buying a warm Russian beer in Moscow in the summer of 1998, sold in a scratched recycled bottle which cost six rubles. I also had to find an empty bottle to turn in to qualify to buy it.... (read more)

September 2009

An Importer’s Birthday

One advantage to being a wine importer in Russia is the ability to supply your birthday party with wine at cost.... (read more)

August 2009

Scandinavian Tapas and Spanish Wines

This month we decided to go back to Night Flight for our Spanish wine tasting, and give Chef Michael Willuhn a chance to serve us some Scandinavian tapas and Night Flight’s classic Planksteak.... (read more)

July 2009

People’s Bordeaux

Last month we sampled wines from five of the most famous (and expensive) châteaus of Bordeaux – the “first growth” châteaus that were classified in 1855.... (read more)

June 2009

Four Years of Wine Reports

After our recent visit to Paris, Knights of the Vine Russia (KOVR) Commandeur Suprême John Ortega suggested we try French wines for our next wine tasting.... (read more)

May 2009

Paris Wine Excursion

In the time most expats spend in Moscow traffic every day, that expat could be near one of Europe’s great wine regions or certainly land in the world’s wine and gastronomic capital – Paris.... (read more)

April 2009

California Dreamin’

Passport again examined the wine lists of Russia’s top wine importers and the supermarket and boutique shelves, this time for California wines.... (read more)

March 2009

Sicilian Wine in Moscow

This month we are taking a new approach to help our readers select the best wines available on Moscow shelves.... (read more)

February 2009

Winemaker Angelo Gaja

If you didn’t know otherwise, you’d think he was a celebrity from stage or screen.... (read more)

January 2009

Best of Wine 2008

There are essentially four wine boutique chains in Moscow: Grand Cru, Kauffman shops, the Magnum and Decanter shops, and Kollektsiya Vin..... (read more)

December 2008

In Grand Havana

This month’s wine tasting was held at Moscow’s Grand Havana Room, a private cigar club off Slavyanskaya Square.... (read more)

October 2008

Black Sea Gold Coast

Recently Passport’s Knights of the Vine gathered to gauge the progress of Russian wineries.... (read more)

August 2008

Windows on the World

Kevin Zraly was the first wine steward and wine director of what was one of Manhattan’s top restaurants, Windows on the World.... (read more)

July 2008

Canadian Riches

The cork on the bottle of Dan Aykroyd wine, produced at Lakeview Cellars on Canada’s Niagara peninsula, is branded “Made from 100% Snob Free Grapes.”.... (read more)

July 2008

Favored by the Tsars

This month’s wine tasting was inspired by the Valence area in the heart of the French Côtes du Rhône wine region, which runs along the Rhône River in southeastern France from the Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the south to Côte Rôtie and Condrieu in the north.... (read more)

June 2008

Supermarket Wines

For Passport’s wine tastings we rarely sample “supermarket wines,” which are the ones most consumers drink at home on a regular basis.... (read more)

May 2008

The Hills are Alive

When an upcoming business trip to Vienna prompted the decision to focus on Austrian wines for this month’s wine tasting, we set to scouring Moscow for appropriate subjects.... (read more)

April 2008

One Night In … Vienna

A wining and dining evening in one of the world’s great cities.... (read more)

April 2008

Mediterranean Tour

The venue for this month’s tasting, ?, features a Mediterranean menu.... (read more)

March 2008

Return of the King

The Knights of the Vine took another trip to New Zealand at year-end, just before the long Russian holiday.... (read more)

February 2008

Moscow Wine Buyers’ Guide

Preparing for the New Year celebrations, wine sales peak in Russia, and sparkling wines are the biggest sellers.... (read more)

January 2008

Russian Knights Strike France

The Russian Knights of the Vine were fresh off our Russian-French Champagne Shootout, that appeared in the October issue of Passport... (read more)

December 2007

Puttin’ on the Ritz

Grant Dodd was back in town, this time with a crew, packing Parker Ninety Pluses, some of the best wines that Australia has to offer... (read more)

November 2007

Russian French Champagne Shootout

This month’s wine tasting, one of our most interesting, started with a comment from John Ortega about a deprecatory Moscow Times article about Soviet ‘Champagnes’... (read more)

October 2007

World Wines and New Friends

After a scouting mission/restaurant review with John Ortega, Knights of the Vine Russia settled on Cipollino for this month’s wine tasting... (read more)

September 2007

John Ortega and Prince Robert Taste Chateau Haut Brion in Moscow

Prince Robert of Luxembourg, of the French Bordeaux wine house, Chateau Haut-Brion, visited Moscow at the end of May and was guest of honour at Gala Dinners organised by the wine importer DP-Trade... (read more)

July 2007

Tour of Italy

We headed back to Italy via the Concerto restaurant to review a small sample of the many Italian wines in Moscow... (read more)

July 2007

Around the World with Shiraz

This month, the Knights of the Vine took a trip around the globe to test the Shiraz wines... (read more)

June 2007

Singapore Selection

We enjoyed a Singapore Evening at the residence of Singapore Ambassador Michael Tay and his wife Meena Mylvanganam-Tay... (read more)

June 2007

Looking for Prizewinners

With the help of the attentive GQ staff, Knights Of Vine Russia (KOVR) set off on the whites first, but anxiously awaited the reds... (read more)

May 2007

Don and Sancho

For the first time for a Passport wine tasting, we ordered from the restaurant’s wine list and the prices reflect this... (read more)

April 2007

Asian Fusion Match

This month we ventured back to Asia to re-review the wines that go with these popular foods, although Asian food and good wines are difficult to marry...(read more)

March 2007

Haskell Vineyards

John Ortega took a flight to Cape Town, to look at Haskell Vineyards, owned by Preston Haskell, an American businessman based in Moscow...(read more)

February 2007

The Myths of Italy

Our tasting of Italian wine at Semifreddo restaurant brought plenty of comments from our expert guests, about the difference between ‘old-fashioned’ wine and ‘modern’ wine ...(read more)

January 2007

Party Wine

By the first snowfall in November, Muscovites are already slowing down for the coming New Year holiday, and by December 10 a business call is likely to be greeted with, “What are you calling me for! It’s Christmas!” ...(read more)

December 2006

Bespoke Champagne

Everybody we know drinks champagne at Christmas... (read more)

December 2006

Steak & Wine

The wine shelves in Moscow are slowly refilling, but the selection is still meager, which made it difficult to hold one of our traditional regional or country wine rating sessions... (read more)

November 2006

Whisky Tasting “Scots Wha Hae”

No visit to Scotland would be complete without sampling a ‘wee dram’ of uisge beatha or ‘the water of life’ …the name given by the ancient Celts to the fiery amber nectar we now call Scotch whisky... (read more)

October 2006

Russian Wine Country

Two months have passed since Russia’s wine crisis began, and supermarket Sedmoi Kontinent still has only a handful of wines... (read more)

October 2006

Escape the Crisis

Desperate times call for desperate measures. It’s already August, more than a month since the new alcohol control regime took effect in Russia, and the wine shelves are still empty... (read more)

September 2006

Country in Crisis

Russia had entered another crisis, at least for the wine and spirits industry. Two heroes rode into the breach to rescue the Passport Knights of the Vine from famine – Preston Haskell of Colliers International and Julia Evdokimova, owner of Palais Royal wine distributors... (read more)

August 2006

Wine Tasting at Blue Elephant

This month our Knights of the Vine headed to Thailand, at least the next best thing in Moscow, the Blue Elephant, home to the best and most authentic Thai food in the city. (read more)

July 2006

New Zealand wines

New Zealand flashed in the public eye twice during recent years: as the set for the Lord of the Rings films and for its terrific Sauvignon Blanc wines... (read more)

June 2006

Balkan Heritage

The wines of these countries are experiencing a post-Yugoslavic renaissance, with a number of new investments being made in this ancient wine region... (read more)

May 2006

It’s in the Glass

It was a room full of skeptics – could a wine glass really make that big a difference in the enjoyment of wine? This month, our expanded Expat wine tasting panel found out through a class at Vinum, a wine shop at Prechistenka 60. (read more)

April 2006

Georgian Wine

It was only a matter of time before we would get to the wines of Georgia, considered by many to be the best of countries of the USSR... (read more)

March 2006

Summing Up 2005

We here present a summary of the best from each wine tasting, a quick reference list you can use when shopping for wine in Moscow... (read more)

February 2006

Australian Wine

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? (read more)


January 2006

Burgundy Wines

November '05
For our first foray into French wine country, our Knights of the Vine ventured straight forward to the Cote d’Or of Burgundy, considered by many to be the world’s greatest wine region. (read more)

December 2005

German Wines

October '05.
When we decided to have our own German Oktoberfest in Moscow, this presented a number of challenges: Could we really find good German wines in Moscow? Would our wine tasters be able to judge them? Was there a German restaurant to accommodate us? (read more)

November 2005

An Invitation We Couldn’t Refuse

September '05
Don John Ortega called the Commission to Sicily for its first trial of Old World wines... (read more)

October 2005

Off on Safari

In August '05, our crew went hunting “big game” in South Africa, a country that produces some red wines that can accompany just about any meat that bwana drags home for the table... (read more)

September 2005

California Gold

This month (June '05) Passport’s expat panel was sent to dig through the Moscow wine market for some glitter among the meager California claims. We continued our quest to prove that there really is some gold in those halls, though the extraction price would prove sky high... (read more)

Summer 2005

Chilean Shootout

Our tasters managed to put away quite a few bottles of Chilean Cabs and Chards, all bought over the counter in the 400 to 700 rouble price range. These prices ought to fetch a decent everyday drinking wine, even in Moscow... (read more)

June 2005

Russia’s Bordeaux

“I can’t believe this is Russian wine,” was a phrase we heard many times from the Passport wine panel during the tasting of Russian wines from Chateau le Grand Vostock, located in the South of Russia, close to the resort of Anapa... (read more)

May 2005

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