Wines of Crimea: names, reviews, manufacturers
Crimean wine was not just a synonym for high quality. In fact, the result of respecting the centuries-old traditions of winemaking and products coming from the peninsula, have become a kind of “special caste” - elite alcohol. Even the most affordable products, for example, vineyards "Massandra", already has a guarantee of quality.
The mark “made in Crimea” can be called the key to the successful sale of alcohol, since the peninsula seemed created for the ripening of grapes and the creation of distilleries. The caressing sun, the mild climate and the proximity of the black soil to the dry air soaked in the salt of the Black Sea make it possible to grow almost any variety from tart Merlot to sweet Cabernet. Crimean wine is very popular and competes on a par with wines of France.
Vinland at the Black Sea
No one knows exactly how ancient the history of Crimean winemaking is. It is known that to some extent the science of distillate synthesis has been used by the population of the peninsula for the last 2 thousand years.For the period of the capture of the Crimea by the Ottoman Empire, followed by the ban on religious alcohol, the wine of Crimea was banned. However, already under the Russian Empire, its production acquired an unprecedented scale. So, for example, Prince Potemkin, who made a very significant contribution to the development of the southern provinces and the peninsula, ordered to plant over 2/3 of the piedmont territories with vineyards. They will become the basis of distilleries, and later industrial plants, including the world-famous "Massandra."
Extracts from the history of the art of winemaking
The true history of the development of winemaking in the Crimea is a subject worthy of, if not scientific research, then extensive research work. It is worth noting several important stages in the development of this art. So, for example, during World War II, the option of transportation along with industrial facilities of wineries deep into the USSR was also seriously considered. However, the idea was abandoned as unprofitable.
However, the vineyards suffered relatively modest damage both during the offensive of the German armies and during the counterattack of the Soviet soldiers.Much stronger in the wine industry of the Crimea hit the "dry law" from the 1985th. At this time, the very existence of factories was under threat.
Now winemaking in the Crimea remains one of the key sectors of the economy. Albeit with a limited market. This scandal caused the arrest of wines of the Crimea "Massandra" at the exhibition in Verona at the request of the Ukrainian side. The incident took place in April 2017.
This production can be safely called the calling card of the peninsula in the world of elite wines. The first distillery was founded in the village of the same name in 1894. In 1998, the collection of wines of the company was recognized as the largest in the world and is listed in the Guinness Book of Records.
Despite the fact that the main source of income for the plant is the export of alcohol with potential, the company is also engaged in the cultivation of tobacco and fruit. In 2009, the production volume of the enterprise for the financial year amounted to about 10 million bottles of more than 60 brands. Most of them belong to the category of fortified and aged wines with high cost. However, the company supplies the market with more affordable alcohol.
"Bastard" of French wine
The names of Crimean wines are largely dictated by the territory where the grapes were grown, followed by distillation and aging. But there is an exception. However, this does not apply to the two most famous wines of the Crimea from the brand "Massandra" - "Sherry" and "Bastardo". The first wine is a strong alcohol with a blend of varieties of Albillo, Verdello and Sersial, which occupy less than 0.5% of the vineyards.
Alcohol has been supplied since 1944 and is considered one of the leaders in the segment of white table beverages. But "Bastardo" took a different position, namely, sweet dessert wine. The drink has been made since 2003, but has already earned great popularity in the market. A distinctive feature - notes of prunes and chocolate, as well as an extremely high sweetness of the drink (the sugar level in the berries is more than 24%, which is typical of liqueurs). The wine factory in the Crimea "Massandra" as of 2017 is the largest in the peninsula.
Such a beautiful "Koktebel"
Koktebel is the second well-known factory of vintage wines and brandies in the Crimea. He is even a bit older than the Massandra. The first distillery appeared on the territory of Koktebel in 1879. A distinctive feature of the plant is a specialization in very mature VIP-alcohol.Some Koktebel brandies are 20 years old, and the raw materials are supplied exclusively from the company's own vineyards.
The branded stores of Crimean wines from the Koktebel brand until 2012 were opened even abroad. Since most of the products were exported. Crimean wines from this plant were awarded in more than 170 nominations, including internationally qualified sommeliers at international exhibitions.
Alcohol, worthy of the ancient masters
The lion's share of wines from the brand "Koktebel" provides for a blend that includes local varieties or "immigrants" from nearby foreign countries. It is about Rkatsiteli and Saperavi. It is worth noting that the first grade is widely used by other winemakers, including in the north of Crimea. But Saperavi and strong wine obtained from it takes only 1%, and therefore it is quite rare. Also, the production delivers eminent white wine blend Chardonnay.
However, Koktebel itself is perfect for growing technical grape varieties from which brandy spirits are obtained. In addition to branded three-star cognac, Koktebel also supplies operating systems (CU), whose exposure lasts 20 years.Reviews of wines of Crimea are almost always positive when it comes to authentic drink. Manufactures such as Koktebel have their own quality mark on the packaging. They ask customers to carefully monitor the authenticity of the product.
Other plants with a big name
Winemaking is extremely common in the peninsula. However, it should be noted just a few of the largest enterprises, the delivery of products which have crossed the mark of hundreds of thousands of bottles in one cycle. Mentioned is the Inkerman plant, which is part of Inkerman International. Initially, the distillery was processed only Rkatsiteli and Cabernet, after appeared shops for spirits and dessert alcohol. The famous pink wine "Heraklea", which is actually the leader of its small segment, was first created here. "Crimean Aligote", vintage wine, is also produced under this brand.
The mark also stands at the Novy Svet factory, specialized in sparkling beverages. The company produces exclusively champagne. For centuries of history, it has changed its profile several times. In 1878 the Grand Duke Golitsyn laid the foundation for the enterprise.Despite the fact that the estate was looted from 1918 to 1920, the plant retained some production facilities and was later reconstructed. As of 2017, the brand produces about 16 types of sparkling wines, including vintage, awarded international prizes.
Blend varieties and the history of the formation of vineyards
The territory of the peninsula of Crimea is the best suited for growing grapes on an industrial scale. Traditionally, local enterprises rely primarily on raw materials directly from the Crimea. The lion's share of sweet and semi-sweet varieties is concentrated in the south of the peninsula, while strong, white counterparts are grown in the center and foothill areas.
The composition of the soil is excellent for the rapid ripening of grapes, and the mild climate with dry air contributes to the natural protection of the fruit from pests and all sorts of diseases. Wines of Crimea (red wine) are made from Merlot, which is also located on the territory of the plains. But the famous Chardonnay impressively feels to the north.
The most common grape varieties
The famous "Georgian" Rkatsiteli to this day remains the basis of the vineyards of the Crimea. This variety covers more than 43% of the territory. Yield is on the peninsula assessed as high.Despite the average term of maturity, the ecosystem contributes to an increase in sucrose and glucose in fruits, which makes it possible to use Rkatsiteli at an earlier stage of aging. It serves as the basis for a blend of dessert, table, strong, vintage dry wines.
It is combined with Cabernet in the wines of the Crimea, emphasizing the large-scale bouquet of the latter. Competition Rkatsiteli is Aligote. It serves as the basis for blends for vintage white wines “Massandra” and “Koktebel”. Quite capricious, but still caught on 14% of the territory of the peninsula vineyards.
Sauvignon and Cabernet occupy an average of 5% and are also in a blend of branded drinks. But the famous Merlot is used by only a few enterprises. It accounted for just over 2% of the territory.
Red Saperavi found distribution under the brand "Massandra". It can often be found on the territory of the vineyards of the brand. It is noteworthy that in the territory of Crimea there are many varieties of “homegrown” grapes or so-called bastards from the main blend, which is characteristic of the French appellason. They occupy over 10% of the territory and, in one way or another, are involved in the production of most branded beverages.In addition, home-made winemaking is very common in the Crimea, so to some extent each farm has its own vineyards.
Their names should be known
A number of the most eminent wines of the Crimea are named in the chain of varieties that served as the basis for the drink. So, for example, among the famous white varieties and alcohol produced from them are: "Chardonnay", "Aligote", "Rkatsiteli" and "Sauvignon".
Connoisseurs also note the taste of "Kokura" and "Riesling". Crimean wines (red wines) are also rich in various types of "Cabernet", "Saperavi" and "Merlot". Among the dessert is to highlight the "Sunny Valley", "Bastardo" and "Cornelian Tauris."
Among the sparkling wines, the most popular are “Sevastopol”, which, even during the USSR, were served at the table of the party elite. Among the newcomers with potential, the Crimea Agora wine stands out, based on the blend of which is the very same Saperavi.
Taste palette and external characteristics
The taste palette of Crimean wine, according to reviews, is incredibly extensive on the subject of accents and aftertaste. Each connoisseur will be able to choose his own drink: delicate or tart, bitter or sweetly sweet.Each grade has its own characteristics. Speaking generally, the southern vineyards are characterized by a piquant bitterness with a bright caramel aftertaste. For example, Aligote, a white variety, has such an accent - floral taste and caramel. But Rkatsiteli is more temperamental, with a strong, pronounced varietal accent in taste. There is a pattern here. The more to the north are the vineyards, the stronger is the sourness and the emphasis on the taste of the fruits.
White varieties differ in color palette from pale yellow to straw hues and even golden honey. Dark ruby "Chardonnay", in turn, is distinguished by its strength and a full bouquet with an emphasis on fruit notes. The same is characteristic of "Saperavi", in the properties of which there is a close relationship with pomegranate drink, including the characteristic sweetness in the aftertaste.
Crimean wines are extremely diverse on the subject of taste palette and have their own character. Drinks made from varieties that have been bred by breeding have incorporated an extensive flower bouquet, characteristic of the foothills and some southern territories of the peninsula.Far from all red varieties acquire a characteristic saffian tint. Therefore, you should choose carefully.
Geopolitics and current state of enterprises
The administration of the peninsula declares that the geopolitical situation in the territory of the peninsula should not affect the situation of enterprises producing alcohol and vintage wines. The incident with the arrest of a whole batch of products in April 2017 is a clear demonstration of a kind of embargo on the supply of wines from the Crimea.
Nevertheless, the plants continue to operate, and the management often declares its own distance from political squabbles and the desire to engage exclusively in the art of winemaking. In the end, the peninsula has been supplying wine in large quantities for several centuries, and the current situation in the industry threatens to reduce employment and development rates.
The wines of Crimea are a bright representative of the category of products that have long overgrown a certain binding to the company or brand. Geolocation of alcohol has become a business card and a guarantee of its quality. Many sommeliers recognize the status of vintage wines of Crimea, which in itself serves as a recognition of the quality of products from the peninsula.
It remains to hope that the current situation with the supply of alcohol from the Crimea will be resolved in favor of one “player” - the very field of winemaking, which has become traditional for residents. Otherwise, the world risks losing the best wines of the Crimea with its own character and bright personality.