The wines of Myskhako
Part 5, Visiting Russia's Vineyards on the Black Sea Coast

Myskhako vineyards

Overlooking the port town of Novorossiysk, Myskhako is a sizeable winery that was established in 1869. After many years of state control, the winery now has a single owner, and is able to process 4000 tons annually.  


Myskhako has 300 hectares of vineyards, and production is around 5 million bottles each year, most of which is sparkling. 2 million bottles of still wine are made, 70% of which is the basic level, made without wood ageing. The Reserve range is smaller, and here some staves or lees/skin contact might be used. From 2009 a Grand Reserve range has been produced, with a black label and heavy bottle.  

There’s a connection here with Leonid Breznhev, head of state from 1964–1982. He fought at Novorossiysk in the war, and was based at Myskhako. He visited in the 1970s, and the small room where he tasted the wines has been preserved as it was then, with pictures of Breznhev and 1970s style furnishings.  

Pinot Noir

Harvest was underway, and so as well as visiting the winery, there was a chance to see some Pinot Noir being picked. It looked to be in excellent condition.    

Winemaker Roman Neborsky

To taste through the wines, I met with general manager Sergei Janov, winemaker Roman Neborsky and consultant winemaker John Worontshack. We also had a good dinner in the modern restaurant that adjoins the winery.   

Winery: a mixture of old and new: these are old-style iron tanks

Modern stainless steel tanks; less modern walkways

The wine quality is a little mixed, with some highs but also some lows. The best wines were really good indeed.


Modé Brut Sparkling White
98% Chardonnay and 2% Pinot Noir. Fruity and bright with a strange green herbal edge. Nice fruit though. 80/100

Modé Pearl Sparkling Wine
Off dry and fruity with nice grapiness. Textured with a subtle green edge. Very appealing rich, fruity style. 82/100

Myskhako Aligote Old Vines 2008
Fruity and correct with fresh, simple citrus fruit flavours. Pure but a little short. 83/100

Myskhako Riesling Old Vines 2008
A blend of Rhine and Welsch Riesling. Nicely aromatic showing fresh citrus fruits. Good clean fruit here. Crisp, attractive and fruity. 85/100

Cuvée Myskhako 2008
60% Chardonnay, 40% Sauvignon Blanc. Fruity, supple and rounded with some texture as well as green herbal notes. 81/100

Cuvée Myskhako 2010 (tank sample)
Nice depth of fresh fruity flavours. Some roundness and also some green herbal notes. 82/100

Myskhako Grand Reserve Chardonnay 2008
Full barrel fermentation with wild yeasts. Deep yellow colour. Aromatic, sweet, toasty, honeyed nose. The palate is soft-textured, toasty and rounded with some spice and butter notes. Nice depth of flavour with good complexity, but perhaps just a hint of mid-palate hollowness? 89/100

Myskhako Grand Reserve Chardonnay 2009 (tank sample)
Some green herbal notes on the nose. Green, almost rubbery edge to the fruit on the palate. Lighter style. 80/100

Myskhako Pinot Noir Reserve 2008
Slightly faded colour but lovely elegant sweet cherry and berry fruit. Some undergrowthy complexity here, with nice fruit. An attractive wine. 88/100

Myskhako Reserve Shiraz (tank sample)
Slightly taut, reductive nose with nice vivid berry fruits. Raspberry and berry fruit palate with a savoury, spicy edge. 84–88/100

Myskhako Reserve Merlot 2007
Green herbal tobacco edge to the nose with sweet fruit on the palate. Rounded, supple, sweet and attractive. 87/100

Myskhako Grand Reserve Merlot 2007
Nicely structured with savoury, spicy tobacco and cedar notes on the nose. The concentrated palate shows a savoury, gravelly undercurrent. Very stylish. 90/100

Myskhako Grand Reserve Merlot 2009
Green herbal edge to the sweet berry fruits nose. The palate has an odd green herby note as well as sweet fruit. Nice structure and mineral bite, though. Let’s hope this pulls through. 80/100

Myskhako Cuvée Red 2007
A 50/50 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Slightly herby edge to the ripe, sweet black fruits. Savoury and spicy with a drying finish and some tar notes. Robust Bordeaux style. 86/100

Myskhako Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Some green herby notes here, otherwise nice savoury-edged berry fruits with good fruit and structure, although the finish is quite drying. 82/100

Myskhako Traditional Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
This spends 2 years in large oak barrels. Rounded, appealing and quite complex in a Rioja-like style, with some mellow spice and earth notes. Supple, old fashioned but really good. 88/100

Myskhako Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Savoury, spicy and earthy with some evolution and nice concentration and depth. Good concentrated berry fruits with some savoury complexity. A really appealing wine. 91/100  

Myskhako Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Includes 15% Merlot. Lower crop levels here, and it shows in the wine. Lovely blackcurrant fruit nose with some spicy berry notes. Rounded elegant fruit on the palate with smoothness as well as structure. Super effort. 92/100

Myskhako Ice Wine 2007
Honeyed, sweet, syrupy and richly textured. Sweet and bold with nice richness as well as hints of grape and tea. 86/100

Myskhako Ice Wine 2009
Spicy, fresh and lively with nice acidity and purity. Very stylish sweet wine, showing some complexity. 89/100

A short film of the visit: 

Part 1, introduction
Part 2, Château le Grand Vostock
Part 3, Fanagoria
Part 4, Villa Victoria
Part 5, Myskhako
Part 6, Abrau Durso
Part 7, other wines tasted 

Wines tasted 09/11
Published 10/11  

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