Last Friday, we woke up at 4:30 pm and left at 5 o'clock in the morning from St. Emilion for Bordeaux Merignac airport where our plane to Paris was scheduled at 6:55 am.
We met with Daniel, the friend who is already doing business in Ukraine, and joined Helena, in Paris, our Ukrainian guide interpreter. Departure from Paris to Kiev nearly 2 hours late and, surprised at the arrival, My luggage was not there. It was delivered the next day, in good condition.
We left Kiev, where it was cold (2 / 3 degrees), for Simferopol in Crimea on the Black Sea, where the temperature was like in the Mediterranean (20/25 degrees and sunshine). Evening meal with friends Daniel and overnight stay.
The next day, we visited the company created by Daniel and the market in Yalta with his Ukrainian friends: spices, vegetables preserved in vinegar, pomegranates as big as melons, Muscat grapes, persimmons, all honey of all different colors… we wanted to taste everything, but we quickly had to go visit to the famous cellars of Massandra where the wine, intended for the table of the Russian Tsars, was as famous as our 1855 classified first growths.
Alas, the visit of the cellars was not technical enough for my taste. In these superb cellars, are stored incredible amounts of bottles (if I understood correctly, more than 20 million bottles) and especially stocks of old, very old vintages 1800/1900: there is nothing else in an underground span. We then tasted 9 wines from the current range that go from a sherry style to sweet Cahors, sweet Muscat with at least 3 or 4 good. At the end of the visit, our hosts offered us, Daniel and I were both born in 1951, a bottle of Muscat de Massandra 1951, probably the only 1951 drinkable, even very good. I will know when I drink it in 2011 to celebrate my 60th birthday thinking of my Ukrainian friends, considerate and caring, full of that Slavic spirit of joy and sadness.
In the evening, we left for Kiev, where my suitcase was waiting for me (complete with the bottle samples). We had a nice dinner hosted by one of our customers who we recently received in Saint Emilion and stayed overnight in the comfortable Natsionalny.
We saw plenty of wine from one of my colleagues in Bordeaux on planes and in supermarkets. Our responsibility to carve a place in this country.
Sunday we were invited for lunch at 40 km from Kiev, in the house under construction, of these friends wine lover: a 1200m² house with lots of small annexes buildings, guest house, garages and keeper's house, all this on 40 hectares overlooking the countryside. Romantic countryside engraving, trees with all the fall colors and river view. The traditional meal started around 1 pm and ended about 6 pm with lots of bottles of wine, vodka, cognac ... Here, it must be strong to withstand all the "health" ...
Monday, serious work with one of the necessary importers to be able to have our wines distributed, the best without a doubt: with a shop far more professional than many renowned wine stores in the world. It was almost a huge surprise to see, here, already many wines from my friends Garagists: La Gomerie, Magrez Fombrauge and also Valandraud 2002, all sold by a good and well known Bordeaux wholesaler. We tasted Bad Boy 2006, Clos Badon 2001 and Valandraud 1999.
We also met with the owner of an Italian restaurant who is also is a friend of Andrea Franchetti of Tenuta di Trinoro. We had our last meal in a good Chinese restaurant, a pre-taste of my trip to Hong Kong and we must already leave, again, get up early at 4 am. It is the least enjoyable part in my travels. In the bag this bottle of 1951 Massandra and a pretty nice box of top quality Russian caviar. It's amazing the attention we received by all the people we've met and friends. 2 beautiful prospects to sell wine to quickly conclude. What more to ask for? Return?
I had a terrible nightmare the last night before the phone woke me up, we could not find pickers, goes to show how bizarre dreams can be.