Plechistik (also known as Goryun, Cherny Vinny, Letun) is an ancient technical red grape variety native to the Rostov region, where it is grown along the Don River in southwestern Russia. According to another version, Plechistik comes from Dagestan, and it was brought to the Rostov region from Dagestan in the Middle Ages. Plechistik is an indigenous Russian variety and has no common roots with either European or Asian grape varieties. This variety has traditionally been grown in dry regions on clay subsoils on the right bank of the Don.
This is a rather difficult vine to grow:
- It produces only female flowers, so it is not capable of self-pollination and requires coplantation with another variety (usually it is Tsimlyansky Cherny, which used to be mistaken for Plechistik)
- Does not tolerate drought well
- It is not resistant to frost and requires to be covered for the winter
- Susceptible to fungal diseases (especially mildew); has a thin and fragile skin
- Prone to shedding berries
Plechistik has an average ripening period and is not a high-yielding variety.
Traditionally, Plechistik was used only in assemblage with Tsimlyansky Cherny to produce sweet sparkling red wine, but sometimes (albeit very rarely) you can also find dry still red wines from it. The wine from this variety has a rich berry aroma, soft tannins and moderate acidity.
Recently, I tasted such a wine from the Sober Bash winery, which I found in the Vinoteka Solovieva in Chelyabinsk. Sober Bash winery is located in the Kuban region, in the appellation of “Valley of the Afips River”. The vineyards of Plechistik grow on clay iron-rich soils and are oriented to the warm southern and southwestern sides. Alcoholic fermentation took place in steel vats, then the wine was aged for 6 months in French oak barrels.
It must be said that the taste characteristics of this wine differ from the above description due to the terroir of the Afips River Valley. The climate here is temperate continental, with a more pronounced temperature difference than on the coast. And not just off-season. The difference between day and night temperatures is also more pronounced here, because the sea, the water mass that regulates these differences, is further away. Accordingly, the grapes retain a higher level of acidity and acquire a fresh berry bouquet.
Color: medium intensity, ruby
Aroma: medium (+) intensity, with a rich bouquet of berries. The bouquet has pronounced aromas of sour red berries (red cherry, cranberry, lingonberry), with noticeable but delicate notes of dried herbs (thyme, bay leaf), white pepper and licorice.
Taste: expressive, juicy. Sour lingonberries, cranberries and cherries are softened by sweet strawberries. Tannins are medium, soft and velvety, the body is medium, but the acidity is quite noticeable, medium (+), even high. The aftertaste is average (+), slightly peppery.
Overall impression and quality assessment: very good wine with a pleasant berry bouquet and soft tannins. Harmonious and pleasant to drink, moderately complex
With what and when to drink: A good option for Saturday dinner is a rare steak or duck breast. It is preferable that the meat has a fine texture that suits velvety tannins. As a sauce, you can choose unsweetened lingonberry sauce or a red wine sauce.
Quality assessment according to the BLICE :
Balance: a pleasant wine with a juicy bouquet, round tannins and acidity that is harmoniously refreshing on the organoleptic profile.
Length: quite long, spicy
Intensity: aromatic wine with bright taste characteristics
Complexity: the bouquet contains various berry and spicy notes, as well as secondary woody
Expression: I cannot say how accurately this wine reflects the characteristics of a rare Russian autochthon, but this tasting was very interesting.