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Third advent of Abkhaz wine26.07.2011 | 21:29
On July 22, interim president of Abkhazia Alexander Ankvab arranged for cancellation of limitated access of a number of Abkhaz wines to the Russian market with relevant Russian agencies. As it turns out, over the past few months the wine has not been imported to the territory of the Russian Federation. The company producing alcohol drinks incurred damages. Nicolay Achba in charge of Wines and Waters of Abkhazia company told GeorgiaTimes correspondent about problems that arose.
Dividing holiday makers in Abkhazia into categories, it is clear that nearly half of them come here to drink - not swim in the sea or sunbathe. The civilized world calls it wine tourism. Certainly, Abkhazia is not Spain or France, but three or four dozens of sorts of wine are here anytime, and the price is much lower than in Europe.
For a few years already it has become unnecessary to make two thousand kilometers to taste Abkhaz wine found in almost any big chain store. The last few months haven't been an exception: Psou or Anakopia are available in shops.
Yet, as it turned out, these bottles were remaining lots. There have been no new shipments to Russia since February. This information was made public only now that the problem has been solved and limitations on imports cancelled.
According to Nikolay Achba, head of Wines and Waters of Abkhazia, an exclusive distributor of Abkhaz wines on the Russian market, the problems emerged at the beginning of the year when Russian agencies limited imports because of quality doubts. On March 9 the laboratory of "Moscow Hygiene and Epidemiology Center" federal health care agency received 93 wine samples manufactured in Abkhazia. 22 lots were incompliant with hygienic norms. "It took four months to complete all procedures. Over all this time production was practically stopped. The damages amount to nearly 300 mln rubles", - Achba said in an interview with GeorgiaTimes.
Almost the whole range of products were denied access to the Russian market over these misfortunate months. Only an attentive customer could notice that choosing between two or three sorts on the shelves. In August fans of Abkhaz wines will be able to continue their feast with Lykhny, Eshera, Amra, Anakopia, Dioskuria etc returning to stores.
We don't know why Russian sanitary services decided to look for fakes among Abkhaz wines but it is absolutely certain that drinking this wine in Abkhazia is much better.
On the whole, drinks produced by Wines and Waters of Abkhazia are not bad. By the way, they are in demand inside Abkhazia. Yet, most products are made from Moldavian and other wine materials.
Strictly speaking, it is not 100% Abkhaz wine. 1980s was the time of disaster for Abkhaz wine growing: most vineyards were eradicated as part of the anti-alcohol campaign. Presently, the industry is actively recovering with Wines and Waters of Abkhazia as the driving force dreaming to use local grape varieties to produce wines (presently their percentage is low).
Abkhazia is a wine country - but not completely. A lot of rain, humidity and high temperatures keep it from becoming a wine paradise like Kakheti in Eastern Georgia. Several grape varieties are used here, but wines are terrific.
It is practically impossible to find such a wine in Russia because they are produced in small factories, with no chance to pay for the entry to the Russian market or a modern laboratory to monitor quality. Yet this is the product made from grapes that grow in foothills. Well promoted tourist routes have a number of centers where original varieties can be found. These bottles have no bar code, and you will have to trust a seller convincing you of the exquisite quality of the genuine Abkhaz wine.
However, you can find low-quality stuff privately sold along the same tourist routes as "exclusive wines". Usually this is bad home wine enriched with alcohol and flavors that locals would never even taste. Yet, this incredible mix intoxicates rapidly - with the first glass and thus is popular among tourists.
Wines and Waters of Abkhazia is sure that its products will comply with quality standards to remind Russian people of warm sea shores on cold winter days. Let's see the best wine they produce. Psou seems to taste the best among white wines - at least to a non-expert. It is a robust and vividly hard wine made from Tsolikauri and other grape varieties. Other white wines - Anakopia and Dioscuria taste watery, inexplicit and have a vivid alcohol flavor.
Certainly, Lykhny is the best red wine. Alex Exler, a writer, called it junk. Maybe he tasted something out of notorious 22 lots? We categorically disagree. Astringent taste typical of this brand, noble flavor - all this demonstrates old traditions. Lykhny is really made by a classical technology. No other red Abkhaz wine can compete with it.
You can buy Abkhazia's bouquet, a mawkish wine made especially for those who drink to get drunk. There are new brands that can be mentioned: it's Chegem and primarily New Afon. They say this wine is produced from local grape varieties only.