Russia explores its grape treasures

Igor Serdyuk says Russian winemakers have become more interested in the possibilities offered by their indigenous and hybrid grapes.

Arthur Sarkisyan, author and publisher of the annual Russian Wine Guide
Arthur Sarkisyan, author and publisher of the annual Russian Wine Guide

Autochthon was one of the kings in the legendary island of Atlantis. You may or may not believe in existence of the wealthy and mighty ancient kingdom that disappeared a long time ago, but Russian wine producers consider local autochthonous varietals to be antique treasure inherited from a mythical land. 

Despite the shortage of quality saplings, a growing number of Russian wineries, both big and small, are planting indigenous varietals and looking to develop their own signature styles.

“Autochthonous sounds trendy now,” said Leonid Popovich, president of the Russian Union of Winegrowers and Winemakers. “More and more wine estates plant those vines, a few hundred hectares each year. I spent the years of my childhood in the valley of the Don River, among the vines of Poukhlyakovsky” a local grape that “seemed to be a commodity — raw material for the everyday wines. No one could imagine that, a few decades later, these varietals would become fashionable.” 

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