By Charles W. Borden
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. This was no side trip; there were no lightweight stops for November’s Beaujolais Nouveau. Our Knights challenged the Big Reds.
(from left to right): Eric Boone, Patrick Gueguen, Charles Borden, John Ortega, Mark Hollingsworth, Daniel Brooks, Jonathan Russin
The only simple thing about Burgundy is that there are just two grapes that matter, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. In Burgundy, these two grapes produce the most complex and exciting wines, and connoisseurs and writers battle mightily over the nuances of each vintage and each vineyard. Chardonnay provides the princely Chablis and the king of all white wines – Montrachet. From the small Grand Cru and Premier Cru vineyards of the Domaines of Cote de Nuits and Cote de Beaune, the temperamental Pinot Noir is revealed in the Big Reds.
The Passport Knights laid siege to Hediard, a new, shiny, large French delicatessen located conveniently on the Garden Ring near Barrikadnaya. Hediard is a branch of the well-known French chain and it carries thousands of fine foods and wines. Hediard’s wine selection is excellent and it doesn’t discriminate – I found a favorite South African, the Glen Carlou Chardonnay. We were able to source most of our Burgundies from Hediard, and the balance from Galleria du Vin, Moscow’s oldest wine boutique. Hediard’s small and quiet cafå was our assembly point.
No question about it, this was a Passport budget-buster, but those who set aside their Saturday night for this challenge were rewarded with an early French Christmas present – a chance to try the best of Moscow’s Burgundies. Though Burgundies are unquestionably expensive, surprisingly, prices in Moscow are close to those of the United States or Europe.
As we waited for stragglers, early arrivers had a pre-sampling of two premier cru wines from Hediard’s shelves. But KOVR Commander Supreme John Ortega, ever ready to entertain the troops, prepped us with some Italian lovelies – two wines from Castiglion del Bosco (Castle in the Woods) that were DHL’d to his door from friend Corky Severson. Severson is developing a resort and club at this Brunello di Montalcino estate with Massimo Ferragamo. The lovelies were two Sangiovese wines, Campo Del Drago and a Brunello Di Montalcino, that have earned 90+ Wine Spectator scores; we hope to see them soon on Moscow shelves.
The Big Reds came from the Domaines of Cote de Nuits. Our host sommelier, Hediard’s Igor Kalougin, deftly lead us through the field. The prize of the tasting was the Richebourg 2002 from Domaine de la Romanee Conte, the legendary winery that dates back to the thirteenth century when monks of the Priory of St. Vincent received the vineyard from the Dukes of Burgundy.
The serious task of rating 13 bottles of red wine and sampling four others was tempered by wide ranging tales of adventure from our Knights; three newcomers have been in Russia on and off for more than 25 years. We circled the world from Asia to South America. When the subject naturally turned to food and the menu, a Caesar Salad landed us not back in the Roman Empire as we expected, but in Cardini’s Restaurant in 1924 Tijuana where the salad was invented. This fact was verified by a conference call on John’s handheld to Sid who was a Cardini’s regular. I hear we are off next to Australia.
John Ortega, Publisher, Passport Magazine
Charles Borden, Director, Meridian Capital
Eric Boone, Consultant, Colliers International
Alexander Bozhko, Wine Consultant, Galleria du Vin
Daniel Brooks, Vice President, Hero CIS/CEE
Jeff Combs, NCI Telecommunication
Yulia Evdokimova, Arcum Wine Trading
John Harrison, Editor, Passport Magazine
Gerald Gaige, Partner, Ernst & Young
Patrick Gueguen, Hospitality Consultant
Mark Hollingsworth, Hollingsworth International
Igor Kalougin, Wine Consultant, Hediard
Toni Russin, Social Services Consultant, Action for Russia’s Children
Jonathon Russin, Managing Partner, Russin & Vecchi
Elena Zaloznykh, Chief Tender Administrator, Bank of Moscow
Local Wines of the Month. Sparkling Wines for the Holidays
A guide to authentic Russian sparkling wines, essential for the New Year celebration.
Russia’s sparkling wine tradition dates back to the 19th century when Russia was the largest export market for French Champagne. At the end of the 19th century, Prince Lev Golitsyn, the father of modern Russian winemaking, began producing sparkling wines on the Black Sea coast in Krasnodar at Abrau Durso winery, and at Novy Svet in Crimea. Novy Svet sparkling wine was first served at the coronation of the Tsar in 1896 and it picked up a Grand Prix in Paris in 1900. Novy Svet and Abrau Durso still produce wines using a classic, bottle fermented method, as does the newer Artemovskoe Winery in Ukraine. They also produce less expensive sparkling wines using a Charmat method, which was
perfected by USSR winemakers. These wineries use locally grown grapes rather than the cheap, imported “wine material” used for cheap Sovietskoye Shampanskoye sparkling wines. They produce brut, dry, and half-sweet, which is generally preferred by Russian consumers. Expect to pay about 250 rubles or so for the better wines, and 140 rubles for the Charmat wines.
Daniel Brooks, Patrik Gueguen, Jonathan Russin
If you are looking for an authentic Russian wine for a holiday gift, try these sparkling wines, or the bring home still red and white wines of Krasnodar’s Chateau Le Grand Vostock from French winemaker Frank Duseigneur.
Yulia Evdokimova, Eric Boone
Please send your comments on our wine series to:
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 businesssocial event of our past events. See our website for membership information.
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|
Faiveley Vosne-Romanee 2001
Domaine Bruno Clair Vosne-Romanee 2001 “Les Champs Perdrix”
Domaine Daniel Rion & Fils Chambolle-Musigny Les Charmes 1998
Domaine Bertagna Hautes Cotes de Nuits 2002 “Les Dames Hugettes”
Domaine Bertagna Nuits St. Georges “Les Murgers” Premier Cru 2001
Dominique Laurent Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru La Richemone 2001
Domaine Confuron-Cotetidot Nuits St. Georges Premier Cru 2001
Bouchard Pere & Fils Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2002
Serafin Pere & Fils Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru 2000
Domaine Comte Georges de Vogue Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru 2000
Christian Clerget Echezeaux Premier Cru 2000
Olivier Guyot Clos de la Roche 2003
Domaine de la Romanee Conti Richebourg 2002
|Key: Shown above are vintage year, ruble price, equivalent USD and rating.|