Posts Tagged ‘Russian’

Russian girl stomping grapes during Russian wine harvest.

 

Cheap sweet whites dominate the home market but a handful of ambitious Russian wine producers are raising the standards.
For most westerners, the whole concept of “Russian wine” sounds a bit like an oxymoron. And if you ever sip wine at a Russian party, the chances are you won’t like it much. Or at least you will find it perplexing.

That’s because four-fifths of wines sold in Russia are poor quality semi-sweet varieties, and involve the use of concentrate.

The reasons for this date back to Soviet times, when Russians’ taste for semi-sweet and sparkling wines was formed. Many Russians today consider dry wines too sour. It was Joseph Stalin, an ethnic Georgian, who did most to foster this tradition.

It may be hard to believe but, according to the International Wine Office, the Soviet Union ranked fifth in the world in terms of area under vines and seventh in terms of wine output by the end of the Fifties.
The young Soviet winemaking industry found enthusiastic support from Stalin and from Anastas Mikoyan, his Armenian minister for food production. Both Georgia and Armenia, in the fertile, Mediterranean-like climate of the South Caucasus, have a rich tradition of winemaking that predates even the ancient wine culture of Greece.

Wine was drunk in Russia only by the aristocracy before the 1917 Revolution. But all this changed under Stalin, who believed wine had to be affordable for every Soviet citizen.
Scientists managed to produce frost-resistant, high-yielding varieties of grape. But the quality suffered: wines made from such grapes were barely palatable because of their high acidity and lack of taste. To remedy this flaw, grape sugar and often ethyl alcohol were added to the wines – practices that are still widely used in the Russian wine industry to this day.

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A ban on alcohol advertising—and possibly articles—pits the government against a growing wine culture

Russia’s latest salvo in a long battle against alcohol abuse by its citizens is a sweeping ban on all alcohol advertising in media outlets. It’s likely to have an unforeseen victim: the country’s small but booming wine culture.

Russian governments have fought the country’s age-old culture of hard drinking for more than a century. A 2011 global report by the World Health Organization (WHO) on alcohol abuse cited Russia and its neighbors as the hardest-drinking countries in the world. Now, provoked partly by a rising tide of youthful beer binge drinking, the government is cracking down on what it sees as an important public health issue.

Few observers think Russia’s newly emerging and increasingly sophisticated fine wine scene was in the sights of the legislature, the Duma, when it enacted the advertising ban last summer. Nonetheless, the law, which took effect Jan. 1, has had an impact. It makes no distinction between beer, wine and spirits. All advertisements are banned in both traditional and online media, and state authorities have warned the ban may be applied to the editorial content of wine publications and newspaper wine columns.

“Wine is not one of the hit targets of the government … yet,” said Spiros Malandrakis, an analyst of the global drinks markets for Euromonitor International, a London-based market research firm. “They mostly focus on hard liquor and beer, but the law makes no distinction.” Beer in particular has been a sore point, and to stem the tide of its growth among young people (Russia’s legal drinking age is 18), the government in recent years has doubled excise taxes, limited hours of sale and, as of January, outlawed sales from sidewalk kiosks.

According to WHO’s 2011 study, the average Russian drinks the equivalent of about 15.7 liters of pure alcohol per year—65 percent more than in the U.S. Nearly two-thirds of the alcohol consumed comes from hard liquor, one third comes from beer and only 1 percent from wine.

Nevertheless, wine consumption is growing at a steady 6 percent a year, according to Euromonitor. At the top end of the market, fine wine is growing much faster—middle class and affluent Russians are turning away from vodka and looking to wine as a less potent, food-friendly alternative. Importers say that the market for wines from France, Italy, Spain and the New World—after a downtown following the 2008 economic crisis—has rebounded with double-digit growth. And Russians are willing to pay the price for quality. Because of high import taxes and markups, a bottle of wine sold in boutiques and restaurants is generally three to five times more expensive than the same bottle in Europe or the U.S.

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The popular, Guy Fieri.

The popular, Guy Fieri.

 

Guy Fieri, a celebrity chef known for his rowdy personality, spiky hair and love of roadside diners, is adding an unexpected venture to his mix: winemaking.

The star of the Food Network series “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” has bought a five-acre vineyard of pinot noir grapes in the Russian River Valley appellation and submitted an application to open a wine tasting room on Willowside Road.

“Ever since I moved to Sonoma County and saw all this incredible environment of wine, from the agricultural side of it to the business side of it, to the community involvement side of it … I’ve just been in awe,” Fieri said Friday. “So my wife and I were talking about it, and saying, ‘Can we do that some day?’”

Fieri bought the property last year. In his first vintage, 2012, he sold his grapes to Jackson Family Wines for its La Crema brand and to Williams Selyem winery in Healdsburg, which both have had long-term contracts to purchase grapes from the vineyard.

He has initiated organic farming methods on the vineyard and is… read on

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Alcoholism cause 6% of female deaths in Russia.

 

Russia has clamped down on beer sales in the on-going attempt to tackle the country’s alcohol problem.
The new law, which came into effect on 1 January, was agreed by former president Dmitry Medvedev in July 2011 and now classes beer as a liquor.

As with sales of vodka and other spirits, kiosks and beer stalls will be restricted in how much beer they can sell and will not be allowed to sell any at all between 11pm and 8am.

Current president Vladimir Putin, said the step was necessary as he acknowledged the country’s battle with alcoholism, which is the cause of an estimated one in every five male deaths in Russia, according to the World Health Organisation, and 6% of female deaths.
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Before....

Before….

 

With its twin outside staircase and arched entrances, the Château de Bellevue was one of the most eye-catching sights in Yvrac, a wine-making village nestling among the famous vineyards of Bordeaux.

Beautiful, but rundown and in need of repair when bought by Dimistry Stroskin, a Russian millionaire, the building received a renovation permit and was due to be restored to its former glory.

Instead, it was razed by a Polish building firm. Workers were supposed to demolish only a separate smaller structure in the estate’s grounds, but that is the only one still standing. Villagers are furious about the “accident” and local authorities have opened an investigation.

 

After....

After….

 
According to the French newspaper Sud-Ouest, Mr. Stroskin, who runs an import business in Warsaw, said, “I had no idea the château had been destroyed. I’m in shock.”

He said he had spent years scouring the area for his ideal French château and “fell in love” with Bellevue. “Even if it was in a very bad way, I wanted to renovate it,” he said.
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