The Wines of Crimea

Crimean wines might not be the most famous in the world or in that fact the most respected, but due to the fine Mediterranean climate around this part of the Black Sea peninsula it is easy to see that certain grape varieties would flourish. Crimea’s wine industry dates back to the early 19th century, when the first vineyards were planted by Prince Lev Golitsyn and the then governor of Crimea, Count Mikhail Vorontsov. The varieties first planted were Aligote, Pinot and Semillon. Although there are ancient records that mention wine in the Crimean area over two thousand years ago.

Czar Nicholas I

During the reign of Czar Nicholas, I, the Russian people thought Crimean wine was one of the finest available, it was treasured. But in recent times the struggle to keep up with the giant demand from Russia meant that Crimean wines were not held to the strict quality obligations of former times. In fact, the term gut rot was often levied at the wine from the Crimea. Today things have changed, and Crimea is once again making wine worthy of Czar Nicholas I. The bottles from the Crimea are finally making their way back to the cellars of the Kremlin.

Annexation

Russia’s annexation of the Crimea four years ago has given a new optimism to the peninsula’s wine industry. There is a forward promotion of Crimean wines in Russian stores, and recently even the prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev related that the Russian government would support the Crimea in its winemaking endeavours. This is all part of a bigger plan for the peninsula’s economic overhaul.

Types of Wine

The main grape types that can be found in Crimea are, Muscat, Cabernet Sauvignon, Aligote, Isabella, Pinot gris, Pinot noir and Chardonnay. There are two particular wines that really stand head and shoulders above all others that Crimea produce, and they are Dessert and Sparkling wines. Sovetskoye Shampanskoye is Russia’s equivalent of Champagne and the production is increasing to cope with the demand. The Crimean sparkling wine is one of the most respected in Russia.

The Crimean Wine Industry

Although respected in the immediate vicinity, Crimea’s wines have never garnered acclaim from further afield. There have been several vineyards such as Novy Svet and Massandra that have been producing quality wines for over one hundred years, making fortified and dessert wines in the traditional French way. Gerard Depardieu, the famous actor, is a big fan of Crimean wines so much so that he now owns several vineyards in Simferopol, which as it happens sits on the same latitude as Bordeaux. The future for the Crimean wine industry indeed looks rosy, the biggest market is their close neighbour, Russia. And indeed, recent surveys say that the Russian drinking habits are changing, Vodka is now receiving serious competition and one challenger is wine. In the last twenty years the Russian wine consumption has doubled which actually makes it the fastest growing wine market in the world.

Crimea is on its doorstep, and the Crimean wine industry is ready to step into the breech and supply this new market with as much wine as it wants.

Posted in: Wines of Crimea