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Russian sparkling wine producer unveils expansion plans

Published:  23 September, 2013

Russia's oldest sparkling wine producer - Abrau-Durso - has unveiled plans for a programme of significant expansion works over the next 12 months.

In an exclusive interview with Harpers, company chairman Pavel Titov said that the 144-year-old wine estate would be starting construction of a second winery in 2014. The facility is intended to support production of Abrau-Durso's new range of still wines, which will be released next month.

In July 2011, the winery's parent company Solvalub purchased a 60ha estate in the town of Gelendzhik, located in the Krasnodar region of southern Russia.These vineyards will form the basis of their still wine production and are composed of 28 different grape varieties, formerly belonging to Russian billionaire Alexander Ponomarenko, who sold to entrepreneur Boris Titov last year.

"We wanted to rise above Abrau's image as solely a sparkling producer with a new range of Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon wines," Pavel Titov told Harpers.

According to the firm, two separate brands of wines will be released, initially just for the Russian market: an entry-level Abrau varietal range, which will retail at US$15, and a higher-tier "collectors range", which will retail at approximately US$50.

"The wines will be available at the Abrau-Durso retail outlets in early October," Titov said.

He also revealed that the Russian wine producer was actively looking to purchase an existing spirit brand to distribute solely in the Russian market.

"Grappa, for example, really interests me. I think with our established distribution network that there is real potential for the firm to move into the spirits sector,' he said.

However, the former city trader said that its project in Champagne had not progressed as quickly or smoothly as expected - in 2010, the company purchased a derelict property, Château d'Avize, for an undisclosed sum.

"We will continue to promote our entry-level Foliage range, however, several parties have made offers to purchase the château and I would consider selling for an appropriate sum," he added.

Titov said that despite the project's delays, their 2ha of Grand Cru Chardonnay vineyards in Avize had been used to produce a biodynamic blanc de blancs Champagne which would probably be disgorged in late 2014.