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26 August 2019 № 368

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Wine with an accent

Supply of Georgian wine, mineral water and fruits to Russia can be restarted this winter already. But experts have doubts that Georgian wine could easily get strong positions at the Russian market.

Real reasons of the ban to supply of wine and mineral water from Georgia to Russia stay unknown: according to the official Russian government version, embargo was put into operation due to decrease of the quality of alcohol and mineral water, produced in Georgia. The same claims were to the wine produced in Moldova, banned at the same moment.

The head of the Department of the Consumer Market Control of Russia Gennadiy Onishenko explained that in 90s they sold 45 million decaliters of Moldavian wine, and the maximum capacity of production of the local wine-makers was 20 million decaliters: «The rest was at the best something looking like water down wine, at the worst that was dyed technical spirit. And almost the same proportions were in Georgia»

Taking in consideration the situation the government decided to ban import of wine from Georgia and Moldova. But in some years Moldavian wines came to Russian market again as local wine-makers could improve the quality and pass the necessary control procedures. Meanwhile the relationship between Georgia and Russia were more and more tense. Mr. Onishenko commented: «To let mineral water „Borjomi“ which also was claimed or Georgian wine, or at least „Saradjishvili“ (brandy) we should just visit the territory and to observe the enterprises. The papers are OK.»

At the moment the committee couldn’t visit Georgian producers, but during the meeting of Russian and Georgian delegations on the 4th of February experts proved that almost all the questions are settled and the only thing is to state the correspondence of the papers with the real situation at the wineries.

Gennadiy Onishenko informed «Interfax»: " We will discuss the question of the access regime. So many years there was no Georgian products in Russia. The point is to find out a way to struggle against false products. And this way is a civilized and effective distribution». At his turn the Minister of the Agriculture of Georgia Davd Kirvalidze said that Georgia is ready to fulfill all the demands in terms of WTO regulations to restart export from Georgia to Russia: «Georgia nowadays it is another reality — new government, new prime-minister, and this is vital for establishment of good relationship with Russian side».

«We are sure that we can show to our Russian colleagues that our system is adequate, corresponds with the highest standards and fully satisfies safety and quality of the exported goods», — declared after the meeting the Head of the National Agency of Georgian wine Levan Davitashvili. And the final comment of the Chief Sanitary Doctor of Russia was that Georgian wine could come to the Russian market this spring if our experts can finally came and check the work of the Georgian wine-makers. By the way more than 60 producers expressed their willing to supply Russia with their products — wine and mineral water. However, they speak about taking off the embargo to wine only, not wine raw materials.

The first of three Russian delegations has to go to Georgia in mid-February to inspect some enterprises. If it goes right the Russian side will make a list of suppliers and products allowed to import to the country. According to the Mr. Onishenkos opinion Georgian wine could take about 45 of Russian alcohol market. It is supposed to be that the first following brands, well known by Russian, will come: «Kindzmarauli», «Khvanchkara», Tsinandali» and «Mukusani». As well as water marks «Borjomi» and «Nabeglavi».

«The question of fruit supply is under the work of the members of Georgian delegation now. We hope that the supply will restart this spring also», — commented the Head of the Department of the Consumer Market Control of Russia.

Nevertherless, Russian wine-experts are not hurry as there is no a clear idea of WHO will supply wine to Russia.

«Western guidelines in wine questions influence the attitude of European customers to Georgian wine. Weighty wine critics pay more and more attention to local wine-making. For example, in the 2012 Best Wines Observe of Decanter Georgian wine took a whole page as well as Russian ones were placed discretely in the sector of East-European wines», — Alexey Ulyanov, the vice-president of East-European Sommeliers and Experts Association told to Interfax-Russia.

According to his words, an average customer considers Georgian wines as high-quality products and connoisseurs have been always interested in them. That is why appearance of Georgian wines at Russian market will push Russian wine-makers and influence the quality of Russian wines.

«On the other side, the price question is unclear, and it is the key one. The problem is in Russian custom excises, increasing the price of imported goods in Russia. We only keep hoping that the prices will be reasonable and everyone will afford himself to buy legendary Georgian wines», — comments Alexey Ulyanov.

We shouldn’t however forget that Russians, speaking about Georgian wines, think about drinks they used to drink, the technology changes and it is not sure that the drinks imported this spring will be the same.

«Open sources inform that today Georgian producers use modern European technologies for wine-making. How much did they change aroma of the wine we used to know we can only imagine. The same in Russia, a wine produced 7 years ago is not the same made today. And seven years ago some Georgian wines were evidently better than ours, today I am not sure. There are great Russian wine, as well there are great Georgian ones», — shared with Interfax-Russia.ru the President of the Russian Union of Vine-Growers and Wine-Makers Leonid Popovich.

He remarked that it is not still clear which marks of Georgian wine will appear at the Russian Market, at the same time the expert is sure that it is necessary to import to the country wine from all over the world. And the customer will decide which one he wants to drink.

«We are not afraid of a big competition as for Georgian wine it will be hard to take a place at the shelf in Russia. It is completed with wine from different corners of the planet, so to get a big share will be very difficult», — continues the expert.

His opinion is that nearest years (if the embargo is taken off) Georgian wines will get 1% of total Russian alcohol maximum/ And that would be a great result as the competition is so rough.

«Before the ban Moldavian wine took a bigger share than Georgian ones. Two years ago Moldova came back with its wine and by the moment it won hardly 3%. And we speak about Moldova which struggles hard and which was always more popular than Georgia, in terms of alcohol, for sure», — told Leonid Popovich, underlining that Georgian wine-makers didn’t expect too much. Modern Russian wine market is 1,1 billion bottles and Georgians want to sell not more than 10 millions.

Unfortunately, even this is doubtful if Russia and Georgia don’t establish good interstate relationship.

Source — Interfax-Russia

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