September 01, 2008

Bottling Dreams



In Krasnodar region – far from the fields of France and about 1,000 miles south of Moscow –  they are making champagne with an eye to quenching growing demand in Russia’s big cities for high-end bubbly. Make no mistake: this is champagne, not low-grade Sovietskoye shampanskoye – the communist-era sparkling wine made in bulk and which most Russians still drink.

Abrau Durso is Russia’s oldest and only remaining producer of authentic champagne made from locally-grown grapes and aged in cellars. Led by new owners from Moscow, it is reviving lost traditions of excellence, with a goal that is nothing less than challenging the French in mastery for their treasured national drink.

Abrau, located about two miles inland from the Black Sea and about six miles from the port of Novorossiysk, is actually using French assets in this battle. It has imported French champagne equipment and experts, investing almost $20 million since 2006 in new vineyards, modern production facilities, and improved marketing and distribution. 


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