Château le Grand Vostock

Published by Sally on April 23, 2013

Château le Grand Vostock

Château le Grand Vostock

Château le Grand Vostock was established in 2003 by a Franco-Russian team. It is in Russia’s Krasnodar region, some 18km, as the crow flies, inland from the Black Sea. Or 45km by roads to the resort of Anapa.

The winery is located on the far western fringes of the Caucasus mountains, in the village of Sadovy, which had been built in the 1960s as a collective farm, growing grapes and table grapes. When the property was privatised, said chief of the board Elena Denisova “there were 500ha of vineyards, but not of suitable quality” for winemaking. “Over the last 8 years, 300ha have been uprooted,” leaving them with 206ha of vineyards including chardonnay, krasnostop, cabernet sauvignon and indigenous hybrid variety golubok. Other varieties have also been planted to give a balance of 60% red and 40% white cultivars.

Their highest vineyard is at 265m, planted to cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, carmenere, merlot and syrah.

The general manager Laurent Dubreuil showed us a vineyard of spindly merlot and sauvignon blanc vines at a more modest 160m altitude on a spur of land which, he said “is exposed to the winds and which can be damaged by winter frosts” as with the strong frosts in 2012, where they had three days at -35°C, which lost them 40% of their pinot noir and syrah crop.

The reason for working in this region, Dubreuil explained, is because “the climate maps suggested we’re close the Bordeaux style here”, added to which, he said “there is lots of limestone here,” especially in the highest vineyard. But it’s not that simple.  They have less rainfall than Bordeaux, at around 450mm, though the summer pattern is not dissimilar. And, Dubreuil said “the growth cycle is very short, a month shorter than in Bordeaux. Budburst is in May, harvest around September.” The heat of summer can cause the vines to shut down.

The aim for the property is to be producing around 1.5 million bottles of quality wine by around five years time. Dubreuil explained they have a programme of new planting and re-planting in place to help them achieve this.

As well as everyday wines, Vostock produces three levels of premium wine, which Dubreuil said, aim to show “the expression of the winemaker, to show the best of the varieties in barrel.” Top of the range is Chene Royal, which typically spends 16 to 18 months in French oak, though only about 20% new. Below this come Cuvée Karsov then Karsov, with lighter oak regimes.

Tasting, in situ, November 2012

Château le Grand Vostock, Cuvée Karsov 2010 ~€10
Sauvignon blanc, with 5% chardonnay, oak aged
Pink grapefruit nose, lovely freshness with hints of citrus. Nothing toasty, just a hint of roundness to texture, but not roundness to acidity. Fresh balance, linear, big of yellow fig. Fresh clean finish. Vg.

Château le Grand Vostock, Le Chene Royal, 2010 ~€18
Chardonnay 80%, sauvignon blanc 20%
Hints of lemon honeyed toast on nose, then overt toastiness on the palate attack, will tastes like it will mellow in. Plenty of intensity of citrus and peachy fruit, with nicely balanced fruit on mid palate.

Château le Grand Vostock, Cuvée Karsov 2010 ~€10
Merlot 25%, cabernet franc 35% cabernet sauvignon 40%
Quite soft and plummy palate attack. Palate texture appears confused between a not very attractive slipperiness followed by a hefty grip of tannin. This is less well balanced.

Château le Grand Vostock, Le Chene Royal 2010
65% krasnostop, 35% cabernet franc
Smoky graphite and red fruits on nose. Smooth palate attack, very smooth texture all through the palate, medium weighted with plenty of intensity. Has dark red fruits with bits of dark chocolate in the middle.  Young texture and profile, needs time to settle in. Nice fresh balance, with silky redcurrant and raspberry fruits on the core. Really elegant with smooth core. Vg.

My visit to Russia was sponsored by the Union of the Oenologists and Winemakers of Russia.

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