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Russian sparkling wine set for UK surge

Russia’s oldest traditional method sparkling wine producer has hired a high-end Champagne winemaker in order to break into the UK market.

Abrau-Durso, the first Russian producer to exhibit at the London International Wine Fair, produces sparkling wine from grape varieties including Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Aligote.

The company had historically sold mainly to the Russian domestic market but following a change of ownership in 2006, which included a $20m restoration project, it is looking for new markets, including the UK and Asia.

Abrau-Durso recruited Herve Jestin from Champagne Duval-Leroy as oenologist in an effort to boost quality.

Jestin told decanter.com that his focus was on making a truly Russian wine.

‘We wanted to make a pure Russian sparkling wine. We use our own yeast from the Black Sea region, as well as Russian oak.’

‘The Black Sea is the regulator of the climate, and since we’re on the same latitude as Bordeaux, our grapes grow very well here.’

Jestin has introduced a program to begin experimentation with biodynamics, as well as a planned planting of Pinot Noir.

‘Unlike other regions, we don’t have bad years. Because of the humidity, we have no disease or mildew so it’s not necessary to use reserve wine – all our wines are vintage,’ he said.

Exhibiting at London’s ExCeL center this week, the company’s Pavel Titov told decanter.com the surprising level of interest in the UK meant they would now look seriously for an importer, something they had not considered at this stage.

‘This was our first experiment in the UK, and judging by the response, we’re really going to have to re-think our strategy.’

Abrau-Durso first produced wine in 1870, and was the sole supplier to the Kremlin during Soviet rule.

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Written by John Abbott

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