Aug.14 - A Russian winery attempts to produce high-quality sparkling wine, but experts say Russian bubbly has a long way to go before it will reach the level of French champagne. Ciara Sutton reports.
Hoping to cause a fizz on the European wine scene, Russia's oldest maker of bubbly wants to reach European champagne standards. The Tsimlyansk wine factory is located in the southwest of the country, and is known for producing fine wines. The company is confident it can take things to the next level. (SOUNDBITE) (RUSSIAN) TSIMLYANSK SPARKLING WINE FACTORY WINEMAKER SERGEI KOROTKOV, SAYING. "Our terroir is, I think is one of the best, and it gives us the ability to produce very high-quality wines. We are growing and soon I think we will reach the European level." But experts say wines produced in Russia still have a long way to go before they can challenge the likes of France. Svetlana Lubarova works in a Moscow wine shop and says her customers prefer imported wines. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) WINE EXPERT SVETLANA LUBAROVA, SAYING: "Anyone who has an alternative to compare it to will of course vote for imported wine. This is because in Russia we have still not reached the quality that we would like to see, that we would like to see for celebrations." The factory produces around 11 million bottles of wine per year - but skeptics say the country should focus on quality over quantity. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) WINE EXPERT SVETLANA LUBAROVA, SAYING: "In Russia we want to do this all quickly, and in mass quantities, we use cheaper methods of production. If we were to dig deep into how champagne is made, the production, then, in principle, if we used this method from the French, I think that we could get as good as they are. But for some reason we don't want to do that." The Tsimlyansk factory calls its sparkling drinks 'champagne' despite complaints from France that they should not use the trademarked name. Champagne in Europe has enjoyed recent bumper yields thanks to a growing demand from emerging economies like China.