Monthly Archives: August 2014

Sovetskoye Shampanskoye – Stalin’s ‘plebeian luxury’

On 28 July 1936, Stalin signed Resolution no 1366 setting up three wine trusts that were tasked with making Soviet champagne. This was something of a challenge to Soviet vine-growers since until 1935 champagne or sparkling wine was seen as a ‘bourgeois luxury’ and they had been encouraged to root up the noble grapes planted in the nineteenth and early twentieth century in regions such as Abrau-Durso (on the Black Sea shores of the Crimea). These noble grapes had been the basis of a small production of Russian sparkling wine by the traditional method (what we now know as méthode champenoise) but official Soviet policy was to replace them with more prolific varieties.

Stalin (perhaps under the impulse given by Anastas Mikoyan, the People’s Commissar for External and Internal Trade), decided that champagne was ‘an important sign of material well-being, of the good life’. The pressure was on to show that under Communism goods such as champagne and caviar that were once the preserve of the wealthy were now available to Soviet workers.

Ordzhonikidze,_Stalin_and_Mikoyan,_1925

Mikoyan, Stalin and Ordzhonikidze – the ‘Caucasus trio’ – with acknowledgments to Wikipedia

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The Kate Moss coupe: Caring’s champagne coup

London restaurateur Richard Caring (The Ivy, Annabel’s, Le Caprice, Soho House) has been described by restaurant critic A.A. Gill as aiming for ‘the restaurant equivalent of LVMH’. Fittingly then, it’s LVMH’s Dom Perignon champagne brand that – along with Caring and 34, another of his London restaurants – will benefit from a latest masterstroke of marketing.

Moss glass

The Moss glass (with ‘Kate’ signature on the bottom). Courtesy of 34 Restaurant

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