Wine and war. A selection of wineries from the WTA Guide. Ukraine
In fact, there is no winery in Ukraine that was not affected by the war: warehouses were bombed, factories were destroyed, vines were ruined by tanks, and the occupiers have still not been knocked out of certain regions. However, even under shelling, wherever possible, the Ukrainians were taking care of their vineyards, sometimes demining shells with their own hands. And then they harvested. And they made unique wines that may be included in the world’s best collections. It would be fair to tell you about everyone who stayed in the war-torn country and continued their own business. But, unfortunately, the new issue of the WTA Guide. Ukraine, launched by the international Wine Travel Awards project in its second edition, does not provide for epic formats. So the WTA editors compiled a short but bright list of Ukrainian wineries that were in flames of the war.
Location: Vesele, Beryslav district, Kherson region
Own vineyards: 200 hectares
Prince Trubetskoi Winery is the only historical chateau in Ukraine, more than 120 years old. This is one of the most iconic Ukrainian wineries, a true pearl of the Kherson region. Since the end of the 19th century, from the moment the first vineyards were planted and the Chateau was built by Prince Trubetsky, a lot has changed: the old winery underwent a global reconstruction and today it is a European-level winery producing premium terroir Ukrainian wines. Prince Trubetskoi Winery is one of the most outstanding locations of Ukrainian wine tourism, offering a comfortable mini-hotel, a restaurant, a historic winery building from 1900 with a tower and an observation deck, excellent tasting rooms, restored pre-revolutionary wine cellars with wine aging and a luxurious wine collection. One of the winery’s signature wines, the Rhine Riesling, won the Grand Prix at the Paris Exhibition back in 1900, and now, like many of the Chateau’s wines, it has won the highest awards at various prestigious competitions.
The vineyards of Prince Trubetskoi Winery are located on the slopes of the Kakhovka reservoir. The predominant type of soil under the vineyards is loamy black soil. The climate here is moderately continental, with the duration of the frost period that sometimes reaches 85-100 days a year.
Unfortunately, the Prince Trubetskoi Winery is located in the temporarily occupied territory, so the work of the enterprise is currently paralyzed. Laboratory equipment, restaurant and shop property were partially mutilated. The production part of the winery hopefully remains intact. The fate of the wine cellars and the wines stored in them is currently unknown.
The warehouse of Prince Trubetskoi Winery in Gostomel near Kyiv was also heavily damaged. These wines are now almost impossible to find in the stores. Fortunately, the employees of the winery were not injured. This is the greatest and most important value, and it is thanks to these people that the work of Prince Trubetskoi Winery will definitely resume after the Victory of Ukraine!
Wines to notice
Oksamyt Ukrainy – Cabernet Sauvignon, aged 2 years in oak. Aromas of dried dark berries, black pepper, jam, tobacco, leather, vanilla. The taste is juicy berries. Silver from the Wine Guide of Ukraine. Silver from Concours Mondial de Bruxelles-2021.
Perlyna Stepu – 100% Aligote, aging in oak for 1.5 years. The aroma includes wild flowers, pear, vanilla and spices. The taste is dense, rich, with an excellent balance of acidity and a lasting finish.
Rhein Riesling is a wine produced in a limited series. Selected Riesling grapes were collected from a special plot of 2.3 hectares, located on the slopes of the Dnieper. The aroma of citrus and tropical fruits, with floral notes and a characteristic benzene shade. The taste is fresh, rounded, and has an excellent vertical structure. The finish is long, rich and juicy. Signature Riesling aged in the bottle.
Photo: Prince Trubetskoi Winery
Location: Slivino, Mykolaiv region
Capacity: 5 thousand units per year
Own vineyards: 6 hectares
Age of vines: 8-10 years
SliVino Family Winery was founded by father and son, Mykhailo and Georgy Molchanov. It is located in a historical area on the picturesque slopes of the South Bug River, where grapes were grown and wine was produced since the end of the 19th century. Vineyards feel great in the steppe zone of Ukraine, with its warm summers and mild winters. Soils: red clay, sandstone.
Inspired by ancient history, the Molchanovs built a winery in the style of the last century, where they welcome tourists, hold vineyard tours, tastings and festivals. Since the beginning of russian aggression in Ukraine, enemy missiles have been hitting SliVino Village more than once, but the winemakers continued to do their job: they were taking care of the vines, while sappers were de-mining the territory. The harvest was late this year due to the rains. Therefore, the red wines of 2022 from the southern front will be light and low in alcohol.
Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Odesa Black, Chardonnay, Sukholimansky White, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Saperavi, Rkatsiteli, Telti Kuruk, Riesling, etc.
Awards: Silver medal for Cabernet 2017 and two bronze medals for Chardonnay 2018 and Riesling 2018 by Uwines Awards.
Wines to notice
Rkatsiteli Orange – fermentation on pulp for two weeks, then aging for 6 months in an oak barrel. Due to varietal characteristics and technology, this wine acquired a bright character. Nose: apricot and pear garden, steppe herbs and minerality, like a light breeze from the estuary. Palate: full body, pleasant acidity, honey and sun dried fruits. On the label there’s a pheasant that lived in this vineyard and made quite a lot of damage by eating ripening grapes. But, due to the obstinate nature of the family of winemakers and their love and respect for the environment, the bird was tamed, and now it has its own home at the winery and no longer harms the vineyards.
Grand Cru 2022 is a unique wine “with the taste of metal and gunpowder”, as the winemaker describes it, made from the grapes harvested at the vineyard hit by russian missiles. Sparkling wine created by the method ancestral (natural fermentation) – pet-nat.
Photo: SliVino Village
Location: Yasnohorodka, Makariv district, Kyiv region.
Capacity: 17,000 liters per year
Own vineyards: 1.3 hectares
Age of vines: 8 years
WINEIDEA was founded in 2013. On a small vineyard, on sandy soils with clay and pebble deposits at a depth of 1-1.5 meters, mainly vines of white varieties are grown. Due to the moderate climate of the Kyiv region, the grapes grown here have good acidity. Red varieties are purchased in the south of Ukraine.
The winery has a well-developed tourist infrastructure – a restaurant, an eco-park and a recreation area. Every fall, the “Family Winemaker” festival takes place here, guests can make their own wine and put it in the “wine bank” for aging.
At the beginning of the russian invasion, the winery literally found itself on the front line. Buildings were damaged by shells, animals in the eco-park died, and people were hiding from the shelling in the wine cellar. When the enemy was knocked out from under Kyiv, life quickly resumed here. The owners rebuilt everything that had been destroyed and began to receive guests, hold festivals, and wine was poured into bottles with the inscription “To our Victory!”.
Varieties: Citron of Magarach, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Johanniter, Odesa Black, Cabernet Sauvignon.
Wines to notice
Odesa Black is a dry red wine aged in French barrels. Nose: dark berries with earthy notes, dried fruits and dry herbs. Palate: soft tannins, full body, finish: cherry stone and slight bitterness.
Photo: www.facebook.com/yasnopark, www.facebook.com/wineidea.com.ua
Location: Zhavynka, Chernihiv region
Capacity: 10,000 liters per year
Own vineyards: 4 hectares
Vine age: 7 years
The owner and winemaker of Vinoman Winery, Borys Slaboshevsky, creates unique wines at the northernmost winery in Ukraine. It is located in the picturesque area, where the Desna River washes the vineyard on both sides, which provides sufficient humidity. The soil is sandstone. The winery produces elegant, clear and high-class wines, some of them are aged in rock oak barrels.
Boris Slaboshevsky also had a fish farm, where noble sturgeon were grown in particular, and in peacetime they held tastings of wines, which were paired with their signature snacks. During the hostilities, the fish farm was destroyed, but fortunately the vineyards were not damaged. This spring, the viticultural processes were accompanied by heavy shelling – the ancient city of Chernihiv was destroyed by Russian missiles. And in March, a former colleague of Mr. Slaboshevsky, winemaker Serhiy Zolotar, was killed by a russian bomb. Of course, it took a lot of courage to withstand all these blows. Boris worked hard and found the strength to help the defenders of the city.
Despite all the challenges, the wines of Vinoman Winery were well represented at the Wines of Ukraine stand at the London Wine Fair this year. It was there that George Biswas, a leading wine expert, praised the winery’s 2019 Pinot Noir & Merlot blend.
Varieties: Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc.
Awards: bronze – Pinot Noir & Merlot 2019 and Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot 2020 at The Balkans International Wine Competition and Festival 2022; gold for Chardonnay 2018 and Merlot 2018, silver for Pinot Gris 2018, silver from the All-Ukrainian Odesa Wine & Spirit Awards tasting competition. Today, tastings are not held at the winery, but if guests come, they will not be refused here.
Wines to notice
Blend Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot – aged in a rock oak barrel for 6 months. Nose: ripe fruit, black currant and cherry. Palate: intense, well-rounded, vivid tannins, long and pleasant finish.
Blend Pinot Noir x Merlot 2019 – aged in a barrel for 15 months. Nose: dark fruits, spices, autumn leaves, earthy aromas. Palate: fruity, full-bodied, soft tannins, velvet, round finish.
Location: Parutyne, Ochakiv district, Mykolaiv region
Capacity: 20,000 liters per year
Own vineyards: 10.60 hectares
Age of vines: 8 years
The road to the Olvia Nuvo family winery, founded in 2013 by Pavel Magalyas, is lined with rapans – Black Sea shells. The winery is located near the ancient city of Olvia (now a historical and archaeological reserve), founded by Greek settlers at the beginning of the 6th century. B.C. During archeological excavations, evidence of the existence of winemaking in those distant times was found here. Wine production in this area with its unique landscapes is facilitated by weather rich in sunny days.
Olvio Nuvo winemakers work with wild yeast and do not use any preservatives. “Nothing is added to my wine except sun, rain and wind” — says Pavlo Magalyas. White, pink and red dry wines are produced here. The winemaker’s wife, Alla, organizes tastings, wine festivals with shows and artistic performances.
The war has changed everything. The 2022 vintage has a taste of gunpowder. Although, as Mr. Magalyas points out, this year’s wine will be exceptionally good, such wines only come once every five years.
With the beginning of the russian aggression, the winery found itself on the front line. The host went to the ranks of territorial defense and became a sapper. He demined fields and vineyards – both his own and those of his neighbors. Between rocket attacks, they continued the viticulture. Today, the winery can show visitors a bunch of defused ammunition, along with a collection of remains of ancient Greek amphorae found in the vineyards.
Varieties: Johanniter, Odesa Black (Alibernet), Bastardo, Malvasia Bianca, Cabernet Sauvignon, Irsai Oliver.
Wines to notice
Johanniter – no oak aging. Aroma – white flowers, stone fruits, citrus. Taste: fruity, with a slight grapefruit finish.
Alibernet is produced from the flagship Ukrainian variety Odesa Black (Alibernet). Fermentation on wild yeast without the use of preservatives. No oak aging. The aroma is rich, with distinct tones of dark berries and spices (varietal property). The taste is berry with moderate tannins.
Photo: Georgiy Molchanov, www.facebook.com/anutasark
Location: Myla, Bucha district, Kyiv region
Capacity: up to 3 thousand liters for a year
Own vineyards: none. Grapes are bought in Odesa region
Cassia Wine is located half an hour’s drive from the center of Kyiv. This family winery, founded by Mykola and Volodymyr Kasyanenko in their estate. The winemaker, Mykola Kasyanenko, has been passionate about wine for a long time, and produces natural and high-quality wines with an amazing character, without the use of sulfur dioxide.
Natural wines under the Cassia brand with distinctive labels depicting horses are popular among wine lovers, and tastings held at the winery in peacetime were very popular too… But at the end of February, the cozy village of Myla was occupied. Russian shells hit the house of Mykola Kasyanenko twice. Fortunately, the winery and wine cellar were preserved – so the Cassia wine collection will be presented to numerous guests after the Victory. Now the Kasyanenko winery continues its work.
Wines to notice
Cabernet Sauvignon 2017. The intense aroma and velvety taste of this wine is due to the technology of fermentation on the pulp. Wild yeast is used.
Chardonnay 2020 – natural amber wine, also with fermentation on the pulp. Nose: dried flowers, dried apricots, honey, steppe herbs, nuts. Palate: rich, with a slight hint of tannins and spices.
Photo: Cassia wine
Vineyards: Dolynka, Odesa region, Southern Bessarabia
Production: Odesavinprom, Rozhivka, Odesa region
Leleka Wines is a young and successful Ukrainian brand created by a wine import company, Wine Discovery Selection. And this is a very successful debut! Pure, elegant Leleka wines are produced from grapes grown in Southern Bessarabia under the patronage of viticulturist and winemaker Zurab Kuchuhidze.
Varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot.
Like many other Ukrainian manufacturers, this company suffered from the russian aggression. In March, a Russian rocket destroyed the company’s warehouses in Stoyanka near Kyiv. Nevertheless, the winery miraculously managed to save and bottle the 2019 vintage. We look forward to a successful and victorious 2022 vintage.
Wines to notice
Chardonnay Reserve – aged in oak barrels for 6 months. Notes of juicy pineapple, spicy lemon zest and ripe pears are harmoniously intertwined in the rich aroma. The delicate taste is revealed with honey shades of baked apples, crunchy almond flakes and creamy notes in a pleasant long finish.
Merlot – a pleasant fruity aroma that reveals shades of ripe cherry, plum and blackberry. Rich, but at the same time elegant and noble, with an expressive character.
Photo: www.facebook.com/lelekawines, Arsen Fedosenko