Part 5, Visiting
Russia's Vineyards on the Black Sea Coast
Overlooking the port town of
Novorossiysk, Myskhako is a sizeable winery that was established in
1869. After many years of state control, the winery now has a single
owner, and is able to process 4000 tons annually.
Myskhako has 300 hectares of vineyards,
and production is around 5 million bottles each year, most of which
is sparkling. 2 million bottles of still wine are made, 70% of which
is the basic level, made without wood ageing. The Reserve range is
smaller, and here some staves or lees/skin contact might be used.
From 2009 a Grand Reserve range has been produced, with a black
label and heavy bottle.
There’s a connection here with Leonid
Breznhev, head of state from 1964–1982. He fought at Novorossiysk
in the war, and was based at Myskhako. He visited in the 1970s, and
the small room where he tasted the wines has been preserved as it
was then, with pictures of Breznhev and 1970s style furnishings.
Harvest was underway, and so as well as
visiting the winery, there was a chance to see some Pinot Noir being
picked. It looked to be in excellent condition.
To taste through the wines, I met with
general manager Sergei Janov, winemaker Roman Neborsky and
consultant winemaker John Worontshack. We also had a good dinner in
the modern restaurant that adjoins the winery.
a mixture of old and new: these are old-style iron tanks
stainless steel tanks; less modern walkways
The wine quality is a little mixed, with
some highs but also some lows. The best wines were really good
Modé Brut Sparkling White
98% Chardonnay and 2% Pinot Noir. Fruity and bright with a strange
green herbal edge. Nice fruit though. 80/100
Modé Pearl Sparkling Wine
Off dry and fruity with nice grapiness. Textured with a subtle green
edge. Very appealing rich, fruity style. 82/100
Myskhako Aligote Old Vines 2008 Fruity and correct with fresh, simple citrus fruit flavours.
Pure but a little short. 83/100
Myskhako Riesling Old Vines 2008 A blend of Rhine and Welsch Riesling. Nicely aromatic showing
fresh citrus fruits. Good clean fruit here. Crisp, attractive and
Cuvée Myskhako 2008 60% Chardonnay, 40% Sauvignon Blanc. Fruity, supple and rounded
with some texture as well as green herbal notes. 81/100
Cuvée Myskhako 2010 (tank sample) Nice depth of fresh fruity flavours. Some roundness and also
some green herbal notes. 82/100
Myskhako Grand Reserve Chardonnay 2008 Full barrel fermentation with wild yeasts. Deep yellow colour.
Aromatic, sweet, toasty, honeyed nose. The palate is soft-textured,
toasty and rounded with some spice and butter notes. Nice depth of
flavour with good complexity, but perhaps just a hint of mid-palate
Myskhako Grand Reserve Chardonnay 2009
(tank sample) Some green herbal notes on the nose. Green, almost rubbery edge
to the fruit on the palate. Lighter style. 80/100
Myskhako Pinot Noir Reserve 2008 Slightly faded colour but lovely elegant sweet cherry and berry
fruit. Some undergrowthy complexity here, with nice fruit. An
attractive wine. 88/100
Myskhako Reserve Shiraz (tank sample) Slightly taut, reductive nose with nice vivid berry fruits.
Raspberry and berry fruit palate with a savoury, spicy edge.
Myskhako Reserve Merlot 2007 Green herbal tobacco edge to the nose with sweet fruit on the
palate. Rounded, supple, sweet and attractive. 87/100
Myskhako Grand Reserve Merlot 2007 Nicely structured with savoury, spicy tobacco and cedar notes on
the nose. The concentrated palate shows a savoury, gravelly
undercurrent. Very stylish. 90/100
Myskhako Grand Reserve Merlot 2009 Green herbal edge to the sweet berry fruits nose. The palate has
an odd green herby note as well as sweet fruit. Nice structure and
mineral bite, though. Let’s hope this pulls through. 80/100
Myskhako Cuvée Red 2007 A 50/50 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Slightly herby
edge to the ripe, sweet black fruits. Savoury and spicy with a
drying finish and some tar notes. Robust Bordeaux style. 86/100
Myskhako Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
2007 Some green herby notes here, otherwise nice savoury-edged berry
fruits with good fruit and structure, although the finish is quite
Myskhako Traditional Cabernet
Sauvignon 2006 This spends 2 years in large oak barrels. Rounded, appealing and
quite complex in a Rioja-like style, with some mellow spice and
earth notes. Supple, old fashioned but really good. 88/100
Myskhako Grand Reserve Cabernet
Sauvignon 2006 Savoury, spicy and earthy with some evolution and nice
concentration and depth. Good concentrated berry fruits with some
savoury complexity. A really appealing wine. 91/100
Myskhako Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Includes 15% Merlot. Lower crop levels here, and it shows in the
wine. Lovely blackcurrant fruit nose with some spicy berry notes.
Rounded elegant fruit on the palate with smoothness as well as
structure. Super effort. 92/100
Myskhako Ice Wine 2007 Honeyed, sweet, syrupy and richly textured. Sweet and bold with
nice richness as well as hints of grape and tea. 86/100
Myskhako Ice Wine 2009 Spicy, fresh and lively with nice acidity and purity. Very
stylish sweet wine, showing some complexity. 89/100