Count Golitsin about the wine

The speech of Lev Sergeyevich Golitsyn on the festival of Russian winemaking, dated by 10th September 1903.

“There are known traditions, known techniques in life which are taken into account when one wants to honor something. When a man takes a position – he is celebrated, when he quits it – he is celebrated, when a man receives сollegiate registrator – he is celebrated, and when receives Stanislav honor – celebrated even more. The same story happened to me.

Turns out that in three days 25 years will have passed since I made my first Bordeaux, or first slipslop. Then I was honored by visitors from the whole Russia: Caucasus, Crimea, Kherson, Moscow, Petersburg and Kazan came to look at my shining face and came with the comments to my address. I listened to all of them. Beautifully written. You can praise nicely, gentlemen: you have done this, done that. Simply speaking, I understand that I am this and that of course. All I can say is “thank you”. But I am glad that you came, and not with the purpose of making me listen to your speeches, which got me horribly bored, to tell the truth. But to talk to you, to show you what was done and to think together with you how to move forward. We all, gentleman, believe in Russian winemaking, this future treasure of Russia. But we need to team up to create this treasure. Even if our generation won’t achieve it, in this case we will open the horizon to our children, as we will show them the path and will give the method.

Our weakness lies in not believing in ourselves. We read foreign books, we listen to foreign people and instead of criticizing – bow in front of them with admiration. But does a foreigner wishes for our production to arise, for us to become his competitor on the international market? Never!
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Having correct understanding of the meaning of these three factors: vintage variety, soil and climate, it is possible to make correct cultivation and create a market for export. As a Russian winemaker I don’t have anything against having imported wines here, as good, high quality varieties should be available. But I wish that the majority of wines would be ours.

The above said is not enough to make a good wine. It’s necessary to know how to make wine, to own the vaults, to provide correct care. But the most important is to know how to create people. How much costs a person, that much costs the wine.

But today the key lies in adequate positioning of winemaking. Because who takes joy in cutting down their vineyards? Every false move brings losses. And having the lack of energy also brings disappointment.

That being said, let’s get to work. But to make the action possible it’s necessary to clean the road, which is all cut with deep abyss and is blocked by clods. By these words I mean falsifications and our wine merchant “well wishers”. Is it worth to create vineyards, to make a good wine? To kill own capital just to hear that wine with the minimum of wine juice is grapevine and that for such wine it would be beneficial to plant the most fertile and plain types. Moreover it’s easier and cheaper not to create any variety than give the fame to your own. By clods I mean those wine merchants who do not wish to help Russian winemaking, as it’s easier to resell than to create.

This, gentlemen, is my return speech. You, gentleman, said all your thoughts in your comments. I, on the other hand, tell you how things really are. If I did something for the Russian winemaking, then this time has come and we need to remember Russian saying: “There is no good looking back”. So let’s all work together without rest, without catching a breath until strength lasts. And while creating new vine cultivation we will be like Antaeus, who, while touching the Mother Earth always drew new strength from her.

Gentlemen, I am raising this glass to the Russian Ruler, who will support us in this direction, and to Rus, which we are obliged to make rich for to fulfill his idea.

The second glass is to the fulfillment of this thought, to you, gentlemen, and I finish your greetings and mine with the words: “Let’s get to work!”


From conversations about wine growing and winemaking with Golitsyn L.S.

Lev Sergeyevich Golitsyn wasn’t only an ideologist of wine growing development and winemaking. All his theories he tested on practice, expanding his knowledge, which he enthusiastically shared with his colleagues.

From conversations about wine growing and winemaking with Golitsyn L.S. (Crimea, September 10th  1903)

There are many interesting questions about Russian wine growing and winemaking, but before answering them we should first learn what Russian winemaking consists of, in which directions it should develop and how to create it.

Its history is short. Without getting into details we know that from ancient times wine growing was in big honor on Caucasus and the shores of the Black Sea.

On South Caucasus long ago certain variety had been created and it had been existing till now, but on the shores of the Black Sea even if there was a certain variety, in many areas it changed in its essence. When entire south of Russia fell under Mongol-Tatar Yoke, vintage variety was replaced by table wine. Wine growing was abandoned everywhere except for Sudak and Kachin valleys. After Russia’s conquest of those Mohammedan countries we see the urge to integrate vintage variety, and, starting from Peter the Great, under the Ekaterina II and under Paul I, we see the the non-stopping efforts of purchasing the best foreign vine and a priori create foreign variety of wine in very diverse areas.

However the real attempts to create the research sites in order to determine which vines result in best wine in a particular location start only during the times of prince Vorontsov. He procured the specimen from all famous vineyards of the world and created a huge cultivation facility in Ai-Danila, donated the best varieties of vine not only to state institutions, but also to different wine regions or Russia, and he intended by experiment to identify the varieties which would be more fitting to a particular location. He invested quite a lot of effort, however he could hardly reach correct results: the ampelography was only being created at the time and the procured vines often cam under the false names from abroad, the influence of soil and climate was yet little understood and belief that the origin of the vine alone could result in the very same wine, produced in original area of its cultivation became a reason that the vine was called not by the location it is brought to, but by the name of location it was taken from. That’s how the Southern Shores got Oporto, Tokaj, Lafite, Johannesburg and Madeira.

But wine making and vine cultivation is the knowledge of the area. Each foreign region has its own kind of wine that depends on variety, soil and climate. It is impossible to produce Bordeaux wine in Burgundy, and Burgundy cannot be made in Medoc, Johannesburg can’t be in Oporto and vice versa. Those who know a little bit about this matter know that two nearby vineyard have different products. In Burgundy and Montrachet there are three categories of wine that have totally different value: Montrachet, ChevalIer-Montrachet and Batard-Montrachet.

In Johannesburg there are locations where very expensive and relatively cheap wines are produced; there is Schloss and Dorf, the Schloss itself has areas which are way better than others. Trying to make a famous wine in different region is a futile effort. We shall never achieve it. And trying to achieve it is a huge and unforgivable mistake that may have the most dire consequences. If you take any decent vine and plant it in a different location, you will also get a decent product, which could be even better, albeit totally different.

The vines of Madeira were brought from Cyprus, however the wine Madeira is famous worldwide, but you can’t really compare the wine from Madeira and Cyprus, they are totally different. Tokaj wine was made from the vines brought from Italy, nevertheless no Italian wine is like Tokaj.

Cape wine was made from wines brought from Burgundy,  but if you compare these famous wines, they would turn out to have nothing in common: Cape wine is not Burgundy wine and vice versa.

By naming wines after Lafite, Johannesburg or Madeira, we imply the consumer to remember the taste of those wines and of course the consumer would say “no, they are not the ones”.

In order to find the true path, we need to study the characteristics that vine gets in a particular location. The influence of such local varieties as Magarach and Udel is so great that we can partially predict the vines worthy of attention in a particular region. If the local variety is successfully established, one should maintain it and call it after the location where it grows.

As I mentioned earlier, in there are local varieties almost everywhere in Southern Caucasus, and one should use those. Who doesn’t know Kaheti wine made of Saperavi, Rkatseteli and Mtsvani varieties? Who doesn’t know matrasian variety that results into such a silky smooth wine?

Even thought Kizlyar exists for bit more than a century, its variety has been formed and there is no sense in trying to alter it. These are varieties that have already got their share of the market and everyone knows them. Other regions join these varieties – Black Sea region from Tuapse to Anapa. Here grows a marvellous white table variety grown from riesling vine; while having none of the subtlety or bouquet of Rhein wine, it has a full smoothness, that are so rarely seen in Rhein wine.

In Anapa, the vine Cabernet produces a subtle table wine which at the moment is one of the best in Russia.

In Crimea, aside from the Sudak and Kachyn valleys, the local variety is not formed yet. There are too many varieties in Crimea and none of them is similar to others. Crimea is like a big testing ground. And if the production of strong wine prevails as it should, then the best varieties have been already identified.

In Kherson province, in village Kazatskoe the most famous varieties are such wite ones: Riesling, Sauvignon, which have already proven that vine cultivation there is on the right path and that the grape can ripe and result in a good wine, the admixtures are not needed here.

In Bessarabia, with the exception of few landlords, none would chase the variety, they would chase the quality instead. Therefore nobody knows what is better to cultivate at this point.

In foreign places where the wine existed for many centuries, the creation of test grounds for cultivation of the best vines in order to get the best wine in the area has been taken over by monasteries. They had the idea, they were consistent of their practice and they achieved results. The best varieties of France and Germany exist thanks to them. Clos de Vougeot, Romanet, Ermitage, Saint Emichon,  La Mission Haut-Brion, Pain Clement and Champagne — all these varieties are the product or their genius and work.

Johannesburg, Liebensfrauenmilch, Steinberg – yet again is the product of their genius and work. Our monasteries had other calling and did nothing for wine making, instead we got testing facilities: Sudak, Nikita, Magarach, Chishinau, Otuzy, Tuapse and Udely.

So what exactly did the testing facilities make? Let’s take Sudak school for example, which existed between 1804 and 1847: we shall see that this school had a beautiful range of vine, marvelous soil and that it could make some conclusions, but no conclusions were made and the same Kokour that occupied the most of Sudak valley back in the time still prevails now so it will be in the future.

Nikita and Magarach gave results thanks to Gartvice, who at some point was the director of Nikita; he showed what the influence of personality could be. The liquor wines that he got proved that Southern Shore is created for cultivating this variety, however the amount of cultivated vine was too little and could not allow everyone to appreciate it, besides, all these magnificent wines were made without protocols, without scientific data about the circumstances at which they had been made. This kind of approach is inappropriate for a school. And the very foundation of Magarach activity is incorrect: the wine they produce does not serve science, it sustains them instead; they must sell the wine and the more the better so not to have any debt. There is no science here!

Chishinau, Otuzy and Tuapse have not produced any results so far, but if they put themselves in such a position that they cannot exist without selling wine, then their activity can be considered futile from the very start.

As a conclusion, we see that the schools and testing facilities of State Property Ministry, without having enough vineyards in different locations, without good cellars and with not enough funding at this moment cannot set a goal of creating Russian varieties, even though in time that will be their direct objective. Udely are alone at own expense and with own correct experiments, that are based by getting wine not from few specimen, but from few units of land at a time and from different locations, can create Russian varieties. Their bottle cellar, which was constructed to house more than a million bottles of wine, can demonstrate the characteristics of wine, soil and climate of different years if it is preserved correctly.

I imagine that the matters will be in the following fashion: each year in different locations the wine is produced from those varieties that prevail in this region or from those that need to be tested. The wine is made thoroughly, the books are kept about each location and variety: it is written the location where the grape is take from and from what kind of soil; the variety or varieties used for wine are noted; all climate conditions are noted: rain, wind, temperature; the very way of winemaking is carefully noted. The wine is then bottled, one batch earlier and the next batch later with the minimum of 500 bottles and then is stored along with the protocol. If each mansion each year makes 50 varieties of such experiment then in 10 years 250 000 bottles in Massandra cellar will create Russian wine making. During this decade, each year the best specialists wine makers and coopers should be invited, 10 bottles should be brought up and tasted while carefully noting the impression that each wine gives in a particular year. This decade-old material will give the correct conclusion for a mistake-free step forward for the science of Russian wine making.
Without funding, without wine and without people we will be lost for centuries more and in 100 years we will be saying the same the slavonians used to say to Riurik: «Our land is great and generous, but has no order. Come and rule and own us!».
This is the high purpose which Udely might have. They already have all the date to move forward. Prince Vyazemsy, you had started this, Prince Kochubei, un bon mouvement — complete it – and your achievement for the Russian wine making shall be a truly great one!

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