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dimanche, 20 avril 2014

CRIMEA

RUSSIA INVESTS ONE MILLION US $ IN THE

VINEYARDS OF CRIMEA

 

2. CHANGES IN THE TOKAJ LEGISLATION:

 

A TIMID START BUT NEVERTHELESS A START



Claude Gilois

RUSSIA INVESTS ONE MILLION US $ IN THE VINEYARDS OF CRIMEA

It did not take long before the Russian authorities realised the potential for viticulture and wine making in Crimea. They have decided to increase the size of the vineyard by 20,000 hectares from its current size, which today is estimated to be between 26,000 and 31,000 hectares depending upon which sources the information is derived from.  The viticultural potential of this region has been underestimated for a long time and was very much dependent on the political Russian power which could blow hot or cold on imports of Ukrainian wines as the relationship between the two counrties unfolded over time.

 

It is no surprise to learn that today it is Ukraine’s turn to refuse to import Russian wines from Crimea, which has prompted the Russian government to instruct the supermarket chains to make space available on their shelves to welcome Crimean wines.

 

It is fair to say that Crimea, while under Ukraine’s power, did not attempt to bring its viticulture and wine making to the modern wine  world, which has seen a huge decrease in the consumption of sweet wines and dry wines or semi-sweet wines made in Crimea are less than mediocre. Other terroirs considered essentially suited for the production of sweet wines are now producing fine wines from grape varieties, historically thought to be for the production of sweet wines exclusively. The Douro region in Portugal and the Tokaj region in Hungary are two fine examples of what it is possible to achieve with foresight, perseverance and hard work.

 

Furthermore, Ukraine has been unable to protect its vineyards against the lust of property developers which has resulted in some of the best vineyards being swallowed by concrete jungles.  Will Russia be able to do better than Ukraine?  Not so sure when you know the extent of the corruption and the mafia’s influence on the Russian economy. At least  the intention of Russian authorities bodes well; Crimea will be integrated into the Russian development program which provides subsidies for agricultural development and which will continue to be operational until 2020. There is nothing to indicate that, at this stage, viticulture in Crimea will be the loser,  only time will tell. 

 CHANGES IN THE TOKAJ LEGISLATION: A TIMID START BUT NEVERTHELESS A START

 

 We have already reported on the blog that discussions about new regulations in Tokaj were taking place at the highest levels under the leadership of the European Union, and that changes in the legislation were in the pipeline. True, you could say that the mountain has given birth to a molehill, but it is a start. let us keep up the fight will argue the proponents of changes who feel that the changes are well overdue to give back some visibility to the region and its wines.

 

 

The new legislation has abolished the 3 or 4 puttonyos Tokaji, which, quite frankly, were out of place in a region that is emblematic for the production of sweet wines.  With 60 g/l and 90 g/l of sugar respectively, these could hardly be considered sweet wines, though some people argue that it signals the end of the time where a bottle of Tokaji could be purchased for 20 Euros or thereabouts.

 

However, changes in the legislation are far removed from those wanted by some of the growers of the region that are pushing for a three tier legislation.

 

1.    Dry Tokaji with less than 3-5 g/l of residual sugar.

 

2.    Förbor literally meaning the ‘first wine of the house’ with no botrytised berries and a residual sugar of around 60 g/l.

 

3.    The removal of the term ‘puttonyos’ which no longer reflects the way wines are made, in favour of a classification based on the residual sugar which would have to be a minimum of 150 g/l or more, depending on the vintage.

 

 

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