Leonid Popovich: “Soon we will drink Russian wines very similar to Georgian ones” *

Leonid Popovich: “Soon we will drink Russian wines very similar to Georgian ones” *

Amid problems with Georgian wines, the 2nd Russian Wine Guide project- the rating of the highest quality wines of the country - was launched. Roskachestvo creates an annual project for the study of wine production together with the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Agriculture of Russia. For the development of the National catalog of high-quality Russian wines, a commission was formed of leading Russian and international experts, sommeliers and tasters. The chairman of the Union of Winegrowers and Winemakers, Leonid Popovich, answered Vestnik Kavkaza’s questions.

- How can you rate the wines produced in the North Caucasus?

- For a Russian winemaker, the North Caucasus is an unconditional ‘Mecca’. According to the historical studies of the Dagestani scientists, viticulture and winemaking in Dagestan is 4-4,5 thousand years old. Based on this data, we claim that Russian winemaking is 4 thousand years old. Today, there are a lot of talks that the autochthonous sorts of grapes first were grown in the North Caucasus. Only in Dagestan, there are more than hundreds of autochthonous varieties.

The North Caucasus is a synonym for winemaking. There are three largest wine-growing regions in Russia - Dagestan, Krasnodar and Crimea. Each has more than 20 thousand hectares of vineyards. In Krasnodar, 25-27 thousand, in Dagestan, about 23, in Crimea, about 20. The main zones of growing and production of grapes are both the North Caucasus and the Trans-Caucasus region. All the most interesting in winemaking and viticulture is concentrated there.

- Can the North Caucasus wines replace Georgian ones?

- Of course. What are the Georgian wines? These are, firstly, certain varieties, secondly, certain technologies. Some of these varieties are already grown in Russia. For example, Saperavi or Rkatsiteli, which are certainly Georgian autochthonous varieties, long ago turned into de facto Russian autochthonous varieties, because they have been grown here for more than a hundred years. The wines we get from these varieties surprise Georgians. This happens not least because of today's technological capabilities. I know a number of Russian wineries that bought kvevri (cone-shaped vessel without handles used in the South Caucasus for making wine). The winemakers burry them thus trying to make wine in the Georgian technologies. In several years, we will be surprised how Russian wines are very similar to Georgian ones.

- What can you say about the wines produced in Azerbaijan?

- Azerbaijan is a remarkable place. In Soviet times, the largest vineyards were there. Today, Azerbaijan mainly produces wine and grapes for export, but there are many interesting things there.

- Why is it impossible to buy Azerbaijani wine in Moscow?

- It is not impossible. We hold a number of exhibitions and contests visited by winemakers from Azerbaijan and Armenia. I personally know at least about a dozen very interesting producers of Azerbaijani wine. I visited their production facilities, and I think that they have great prospects, because the leadership of the republic has set the task of restoring the vineyards.

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