Past Articles by Charles Borden

Winemaker’s evening at Cantinetta Antinori (July 2010)

Antinori is one of the oldest and best-known names in Italian wines with more than 600 years of grapes in the family tree. Based in Florence, Antinori is not just a big wine-maker, but it makes very big wines in the quality sense. Antinori has also been an innovator in Italy’s strictly controlled wine market, even planting the French grape varieties that are used in the Super-Tuscan wines that they have pioneered. Renzo Cotarella, Antinori’s top oenologist, was in Moscow at the end of May. We joined him at a winemaker’s dinner at Cantinetta Antinori…read more

Back to New Zealand
This month, the Knights of the Vine took a trip to New Zealand courtesy of HSBC when the bank sponsored a huge wine event at the top of the Swissôtel. New Zealand wines, though fairly recent on Moscow wine lists, have become popular in the city, so by the time of the event the guest list had swollen to close to four hundred. The event started at 7pm, but when I arrived at 6:40, a crowd was already forming. The Swissôtel wait staff began to pour the first wine, Saint Clair Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2007, shortly after seven. HSBC brought in Vladimir Capelik, well-known Moscow wine expert and President of the Independent Wine Club, to narrate and discuss each wine as it was served. There were a number of guests of honor, led by New Zealand Ambassador Ian Hill and his wife… read more
Looking Back on Wine in 2009
The financial crisis had some direct effects on the Moscow wine market. Initially, imported wines became a relative bargain – rouble prices did not change as the currency depreciated, so a 450 rouble bottle that was almost $20 before became $13.50. As the year wore on, importers adjusted prices upward to accommodate increased import costs as the older stock cleared.
Supermarkets such as Sedmoi Kontinent appeared to adjust buying strategies to peg rouble prices at pre-crisis levels to keep the majority of bottles in the 250- 500 rouble range. This meant that lower quality imports replaced some better wines on the shelves. Most boutiques just increased their prices since their customers are not particularly price sensitive. …read more

Best of Wine 2008 (December 2008)Best of Wine 2008 (December 2008)
A Buyer’s Guide
There are essentially four wine boutique chains in Moscow: Grand Cru, Kauffman shops, the Magnum and Decanter shops, and Kollektsiya Vin. read more

In Grand Havana (October 2008)In Grand Havana (October 2008)
We Escape to Alba?
This month’s wine tasting was held at Moscow’s Grand Havana Room, a private cigar club off Slavyanskaya Square. read more

Black Sea Gold Coast (August 2008)Black Sea Gold Coast (August 2008)
Slow to Change on the Black Sea
Recently Passport’s Knights of the Vine gathered to gauge the progress of Russian wineries. read more

Windows on the World (July 2008)Windows on the World (July 2008)
Windows on the World Complete Wine Course
Kevin Zraly was the first wine steward and wine director of what was one of Manhattan’s top restaurants, Windows on the World. read more

Canadian Riches (July 2008)Canadian Riches (July 2008)
Ice Wines
The cork on the bottle of Dan Aykroyd wine is branded “Made from 100% Snob Free Grapes.” read more

Favored by the Tsars (June 2008)Favored by the Tsars (June 2008)
The Côtes du Rhône
This month’s wine tasting was inspired by the Valence area in the heart of the French Côtes du Rhône wine region. read more

Supermarket Wines (May 2008)Supermarket Wines (May 2008)
For Moscow this means 300 to 500 rubles
For Passport’s wine tastings we rarely sample “supermarket wines,” which are the ones most consumers drink at home on a regular basis. read more

The Hills are Alive (April 2008)The Hills are Alive (April 2008)
Austrian Wines
When an upcoming business trip to Vienna prompted the decision to focus on Austrian wines, we set to scouring Moscow for appropriate subjects. read more

One Night In … Vienna(April 2008)One Night In … Vienna(April 2008)
Austrian Wines
A wining and dining evening in one of the world’s great cities.read more

Mediterranean Tour (March 2008)Mediterranean Tour (March 2008)
With Help from Henri Bernabe
The venue for this month’s tasting, ?, features a Mediterranean menu. Also, we were to be joined at this event by Henri Bernabe, director of a leading grape-vine producer and our host on France’s Mediterranean coast in Montpellier during the recent Knights of the Vine gathering.read more

Return of the King (February 2008)Return of the King (February 2008)
New Zealand Wines
The Knights of the Vine took another trip to New Zealand at year-end, just before the long Russian holiday. read more

Moscow Wine Buyers’ Guide (January 2008)Moscow Wine Buyers’ Guide (January 2008)
The Country’s Biggest Holiday
Preparing for the New Year celebrations, wine sales peak in Russia, and sparkling wines are the biggest sellers. read more

’Tis the Season: Wine Buyer Update (December 2009)
The past two Passport wine articles covered the Russian and Ukrainian wine industries respectively…read more

Prince Lev Golitsyn

Prince Lev Golitsyn, patriarch of modern Russian winemaking

Ukrainian Wine (November 2009)
Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire by the nineteenth century, and later became a founding republic of the Soviet Union…read more

Russian Wine Country Update Russian Wine Country Update (October 2009)
The grape harvest is closing in Russia Wine Country, where about eighty percent of the country’s wine grapes are produced…read more

Crisis Wine Buying Crisis Wine Buying (September 2009)
I remember buying a warm Russian beer in Moscow in the summer of 1998, sold in a scratched recycled bottle which cost six rubles…read more

An Importer’s Birthday An Importer’s Birthday
Dmitri Pinski Plays Host
One advantage to being a wine importer in Russia is the ability to supply your birthday party with wine at cost.
read more

Scandinavian Tapas and Spanish WinesScandinavian Tapas and Spanish Wines (July 2009)
This month we decided to go back to Night Flight for our Spanish wine tasting, and give Chef Michael Willuhn a chance to serve us some Scandinavian tapas and Night Flight’s classic Planksteak…read more

People’s Bordeaux People’s Bordeaux (June 2009)
Last month we sampled wines from five of the most famous (and expensive) châteaus of Bordeaux – the “first growth” châteaus that were classified in 1855…read more

Four Years of Bordeaux Wines (May 2009)
After our recent visit to Paris, Knights of the Vine Russia (KOVR) Commandeur Suprême John Ortega suggested we try French wines for our next wine tasting…read more

Paris Wine Excursion Paris Wine Excursion (April 2009)
In the time most expats spend in Moscow traffic every day, that expat could be near one of Europe’s great wine regions or certainly land in the world’s wine and gastronomic capital – Paris…read more

California Dreamin’ (March 2009)
Passport again examined the wine lists of Russia’s top wine importers and the supermarket and boutique shelves, this time for California wines…read more

Sicilian Wine in Moscow Sicilian Wine in Moscow (February 2009)
This month we are taking a new approach to help our readers select the best wines available on Moscow shelves…read more

Ukrainian Wine (November 2009)
Prince Lev Golitsyn

Prince Lev Golitsyn, patriarch of modern Russian winemaking


Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire by the nineteenth century, and later became a founding republic of the Soviet Union…read more
Russian Wine Country Update (October 2009)

Russian Wine Country Update
The grape harvest is closing in Russia Wine Country, where about eighty percent of the country’s wine grapes are produced…read more

Crisis Wine Buying (September 2009)
Crisis Wine Buying Crisis Wine Buying (September 2009)
I remember buying a warm Russian beer in Moscow in the summer of 1998, sold in a scratched recycled bottle which cost six rubles…read more

’Tis the Season: Wine Buyer Update (December 2009)
The past two Passport wine articles covered the Russian and Ukrainian wine industries respectively…read more

Prince Lev Golitsyn

Prince Lev Golitsyn, patriarch of modern Russian winemaking

Ukrainian Wine (November 2009)
Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire by the nineteenth century, and later became a founding republic of the Soviet Union…read more

Russian Wine Country Update Russian Wine Country Update (October 2009)
The grape harvest is closing in Russia Wine Country, where about eighty percent of the country’s wine grapes are produced…read more

Crisis Wine Buying Crisis Wine Buying (September 2009)
I remember buying a warm Russian beer in Moscow in the summer of 1998, sold in a scratched recycled bottle which cost six rubles…read more

An Importer’s Birthday: Dmitri Pinski Plays Host
An Importer’s Birthday
One advantage to being a wine importer in Russia is the ability to supply your birthday party with wine at cost.
read more

Scandinavian Tapas and Spanish Wines (July 2009)
Scandinavian Tapas and Spanish Wines
This month we decided to go back to Night Flight for our Spanish wine tasting, and give Chef Michael Willuhn a chance to serve us some Scandinavian tapas and Night Flight’s classic Planksteak…read more

’Tis the Season: Wine Buyer Update (December 2009)
The past two Passport wine articles covered the Russian and Ukrainian wine industries respectively…read more

Prince Lev Golitsyn

Prince Lev Golitsyn, patriarch of modern Russian winemaking

Ukrainian Wine (November 2009)
Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire by the nineteenth century, and later became a founding republic of the Soviet Union…read more

Russian Wine Country Update Russian Wine Country Update (October 2009)
The grape harvest is closing in Russia Wine Country, where about eighty percent of the country’s wine grapes are produced…read more

Crisis Wine Buying Crisis Wine Buying (September 2009)
I remember buying a warm Russian beer in Moscow in the summer of 1998, sold in a scratched recycled bottle which cost six rubles…read more

An Importer’s Birthday An Importer’s Birthday
Dmitri Pinski Plays Host
One advantage to being a wine importer in Russia is the ability to supply your birthday party with wine at cost.
read more

Scandinavian Tapas and Spanish WinesScandinavian Tapas and Spanish Wines (July 2009)
This month we decided to go back to Night Flight for our Spanish wine tasting, and give Chef Michael Willuhn a chance to serve us some Scandinavian tapas and Night Flight’s classic Planksteak…read more

People’s Bordeaux (June 2009)
People’s Bordeaux
Last month we sampled wines from five of the most famous (and expensive) châteaus of Bordeaux – the “first growth” châteaus that were classified in 1855…read more

Four Years of Bordeaux Wines (May 2009)
After our recent visit to Paris, Knights of the Vine Russia (KOVR) Commandeur Suprême John Ortega suggested we try French wines for our next wine tasting…read more
Paris Wine Excursion (April 2009)

Paris Wine Excursion
In the time most expats spend in Moscow traffic every day, that expat could be near one of Europe’s great wine regions or certainly land in the world’s wine and gastronomic capital – Paris…read more

California Dreamin’ (March 2009)
Passport again examined the wine lists of Russia’s top wine importers and the supermarket and boutique shelves, this time for California wines…read more
Sicilian Wine in Moscow (February 2009)
Sicilian Wine in Moscow
This month we are taking a new approach to help our readers select the best wines available on Moscow shelves…read more

Best of Wine 2008 (December 2008)Best of Wine 2008 (December 2008)
A Buyer’s Guide
There are essentially four wine boutique chains in Moscow: Grand Cru, Kauffman shops, the Magnum and Decanter shops, and Kollektsiya Vin. read more

In Grand Havana (October 2008)In Grand Havana (October 2008)
We Escape to Alba?
This month’s wine tasting was held at Moscow’s Grand Havana Room, a private cigar club off Slavyanskaya Square. read more

Black Sea Gold Coast (August 2008)Black Sea Gold Coast (August 2008)
Slow to Change on the Black Sea
Recently Passport’s Knights of the Vine gathered to gauge the progress of Russian wineries. read more

Windows on the World (July 2008)Windows on the World (July 2008)
Windows on the World Complete Wine Course
Kevin Zraly was the first wine steward and wine director of what was one of Manhattan’s top restaurants, Windows on the World. read more

Canadian Riches (July 2008)Canadian Riches (July 2008)
Ice Wines
The cork on the bottle of Dan Aykroyd wine is branded “Made from 100% Snob Free Grapes.” read more

Favored by the Tsars (June 2008)Favored by the Tsars (June 2008)
The Côtes du Rhône
This month’s wine tasting was inspired by the Valence area in the heart of the French Côtes du Rhône wine region. read more

Supermarket Wines (May 2008)Supermarket Wines (May 2008)
For Moscow this means 300 to 500 rubles
For Passport’s wine tastings we rarely sample “supermarket wines,” which are the ones most consumers drink at home on a regular basis. read more

The Hills are Alive (April 2008)The Hills are Alive (April 2008)
Austrian Wines
When an upcoming business trip to Vienna prompted the decision to focus on Austrian wines, we set to scouring Moscow for appropriate subjects. read more

One Night In … Vienna(April 2008)One Night In … Vienna(April 2008)
Austrian Wines
A wining and dining evening in one of the world’s great cities.read more

Mediterranean Tour (March 2008)Mediterranean Tour (March 2008)
With Help from Henri Bernabe
The venue for this month’s tasting, ?, features a Mediterranean menu. Also, we were to be joined at this event by Henri Bernabe, director of a leading grape-vine producer and our host on France’s Mediterranean coast in Montpellier during the recent Knights of the Vine gathering.read more

Return of the King (February 2008)Return of the King (February 2008)
New Zealand Wines
The Knights of the Vine took another trip to New Zealand at year-end, just before the long Russian holiday. read more

Moscow Wine Buyers’ Guide (January 2008)Moscow Wine Buyers’ Guide (January 2008)
The Country’s Biggest Holiday
Preparing for the New Year celebrations, wine sales peak in Russia, and sparkling wines are the biggest sellers. read more

Russian Knights Strike FranceRussian Knights Strike France, December 2007
The Russian Knights of the Vine were fresh off our Russian-French Champagne Shootout, that appeared in the October issue of Passport…read more

Puttin’ on the RitzPuttin’ on the Ritz, November 2007
Grant Dodd was back in town, this time with a crew, packing Parker Ninety Pluses…read more

The French Contestants

The French Contestants

Russian French Champagne Shootout, October 2007
This month’s wine tasting is one of our most interesting…read more

John Ortega, Alexander Kolomov and Nikas SafronovWorld Wines and New Friends, September 2007
After a scouting mission/restaurant review with John Ortega, Knights of the Vine Russia settled on Cipollino for this month’s wine tasting…read more

Tour of Italy, July 2007
We headed back to Italy via the Concerto restaurant to review a small sample of the many Italian wines in Moscow…read more

Around the World with Shiraz, June 2007
This month, the Knights of the Vine took a trip around the globe to test the Shiraz wines…read more

Singapore Selection, June 2007
We enjoyed a Singapore Evening at the residence of Singapore Ambassador Michael Tay and his wife Meena Mylvanganam-Tay…read more

Looking for Prizewinners, May 2007
With the help of the attentive GQ staff, Knights Of Vine Russia (KOVR) set off on the whites first, but anxiously awaited the reds…read more

Don and Sancho, April 2007
For the first time for a Passport wine tasting, we ordered from the restaurant’s wine list and the prices reflect this…read more

Asian Fusion Match, March 2007
This month we ventured back to Asia to re-review the wines that go with these popular foods, although Asian food and good wines are difficult to marry…read more

The Myths of Italy, January 2007
Our tasting of Italian wine at Semifreddo restaurant brought plenty of comments from our expert guests, about the difference between ‘old-fashioned’ wine and ‘modern’ wine…read more

Party Wine (December 2006)
By the first snowfall in November, Muscovites are already slowing down for the coming New Year holiday, and by December 10 a business call is likely to be greeted with, “What are you calling me for! It’s Christmas!” read more

Steak & Wine (November 2006)
The wine shelves in Moscow are slowly refilling, but the selection is still meager, which made it difficult to hold one of our traditional regional or country wine rating sessions. read more

Russia’s Wine Country (October 2006)
Two months have passed since Russia’s wine crisis began, and supermarket Sedmoi Kontinent still has only a handful of wines. read more

Escape the Crisis (September 2006)Escape the Crisis (September 2006)
We Escape to Alba
Desperate times call for desperate measures. It’s already August, more than a month since the new alcohol control regime took effect in Russia, and the wine shelves are still empty. read more

Country in Crisis (August 2006)Country in Crisis (August 2006)
Where is the Wine?
It’s July 7, seven days after the new Russian alcohol tax stamp regime took effect, and the shelves are bare… read more

Thai Expedition (July 2006)Thai Expedition (July 2006)
Wine Tasting at Blue Elephant
This month our Knights of the Vine headed to Thailand, at least the next best thing in Moscow, the Blue Elephant, home to the best and most authentic Thai food in the city… read more

Fellowship of the Vine (June 2006)Fellowship of the Vine (June 2006)
New Zealand Wines
New Zealand flashed in the public eye twice during recent years: as the set for the Lord of the Rings films and for its terrific Sauvignon Blanc wines… read more

Balkan Heritage (May 2006)Balkan Heritage (May 2006)
Balkan Wines
The wines of these countries are experiencing a post-Yugoslavic renaissance, with a number of new investments being made in this ancient wine region….read more

It's in the Glass (April 2006)It’s in the Glass (April 2006)
Do Wine Glasses Matter?
This month, our expanded Expat wine tasting panel found out through a class at Vinum, a wine shop at Prechistenka 60… read more

The Birthplace of Wine (March 2006)The Birthplace of Wine (March 2006)
Georgian Wine
It was only a matter of time before we would get to the wines of Georgia, considered by many to be the best of countries of the USSR. There is some basis for this claim, and not only because Georgia-born Stalin provided the industry with extensive resources. Georgian wines have a royal lineage; it is considered the source of the first cultivated grapevines… read more

2005 Round-Up (February 2006)2005 Round-Up (February 2006)
Summing Up 2005
From an expat perspective, there were a few improvements in the Moscow wine market in 2005, not the least of which was the wine tasting and rating series from Passport. Those of us who seek quality – together with value – have had an opportunity to rate the wines available to us in Moscow, and see the results in these pages. We here present a summary of the best from each wine tasting, a quick reference list you can use when shopping for wine in Moscow… read more

Endless Summer in Moscow (January 2006)Endless Summer in Moscow (January 2006)
Australian Wine
Ever wonder – while we in the Big Onion pray for continued Global Warming, peering out the window each dark morning to see if a meter of snow has blocked our door – what are they doing in Australia? Golfing, surfing, diving, tanning, and popping some shrimp on the barbi. Winemakers are tending their grapes in anticipation of the March harvest… read more…

Knights Forward (December 2005)
Burgundy
For our first foray into French wine country, our Knights of the Vine ventured straight forward to the Cote d’Or of Burgundy, considered by many to be the world’s greatest wine region. This was no side trip; there were no lightweight stops for November’s Beaujolais Nouveau. Our Knights challenged the Big Reds.

read more…

A Winemakers’ Oktoberfest (November 2005) A Winemakers’ Oktoberfest (November 2005)
German Wine
While Munich is drowning in hops for its Oktoberfest, the more serious business of grape harvest begins in western Germany along the Rhine and Mosel rivers. And though Munich now celebrates Oktoberfest in September to accommodate the weather (and tourists), nature has its own schedule, and serious German winemakers must patiently wait and watch the sugar levels of their Riesling grapes. read more…

An Invitation We Couldn't Refuse (October 2005)An Invitation We Couldn’t Refuse (October 2005)

An Invitation We Couldn't Refuse (October 2005)An Invitation We Couldn’t Refuse (October 2005)
Sicilian Wine
Don John Ortega called the Commission to Sicily for its first trial of Old World wines. Sicily has long been a backwater of Italian wines; it produces large quantities of jug wines and is best known for its Marsala dessert wines. However, that is recent history – in antiquity the wines of Sicily were prized throughout the region. read more…

Off on Safari (September 2005)Off on Safari (September 2005)
South African Wine
This month our crew went hunting “big game” in South Africa, a country that produces some red wines that can accompany just about any meat that bwana drags home for the table. Post-apartheid, the South African wine industry has flourished and international investors have flocked in. The results have been stunning, but prices have not yet shot through the lodge roof. read more…

California Gold (Summer 2005)California Gold (Summer 2005)
California Chardonnay and Cabernet
This month, Passport’s expat panel was sent to dig through the Moscow wine market for some glitter among the meager California claims. We continued our quest to prove that there really is some gold in those halls, though the extraction price would prove sky high. read more…

Chilean Shootout (June 2005)Chilean Shootout (June 2005)
Chilean Wine
Passport asked our wine panel to help our readers find some decent wines in Moscow’s supermarkets and wine shops. This month we began with Chile, the New World wine country that has the largest selection in Moscow. read more…

Russia's Bordeaux (May 2005)Russia’s Bordeaux (May 2005)
A Russian Wine
Our tasting panel is very surprised by Chateau le Grand Vostock. read more…

Chilean Shootout (June 2005)Chilean Shootout (June 2005)
Chilean Wine
Passport asked our wine panel to help our readers find some decent wines in Moscow’s supermarkets and wine shops. This month we began with Chile, the New World wine country that has the largest selection in Moscow. read more…

Russia's Bordeaux (May 2005)Russia’s Bordeaux (May 2005)
A Russian Wine
Our tasting panel is very surprised by Chateau le Grand Vostock. read more…

Russia's Bordeaux (May 2005)Russia’s Bordeaux (May 2005)
A Russian Wine
Our tasting panel is very surprised by Chateau le Grand Vostock. read more…