Russian kagor.        
                                                                                                                                                                                  By Alex Murr and Ljubov Epihina.


     No, it is not a spelling mistake. For it is inappropriate and it is a mistake to use the word "Cahors" to mean this drink.  Classical Cahors is dry red wine produced now at wineries everywhere in the world. Besides it never possessed the special sweetness which characterises Russian Kagor - an absolutely different drink produced on unique technology on the territory of Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia and in a number of other countries the main religion of which is Orthodoxy.
   It was created by masters of Russian Empire and former USSR. No matter how unbelievable it sounds but the Masters of God - denying country  did create the drink for the worship.
   Orthodoxy and religion were the only reason for the birth of Kagor. There are many legends about its origin. Here are a few of them.

     The history and legends.

   Cahors is a small convenient medieval city on the south - west of France. Vine was grown there already in 500 year of our time and brilliant wines glorious for their deep almost black colour and remedies were produced. These wines were made from Cot nuar sort of grape, otherwise called Auxerrois. The natural protection of vine from western winds and rainy Mediterranean sea autumn permitted it to ripen and a special wine making technology gave an opportunity to extract from precious vine all things possible. Just consider: grapes were crushed and then material was matured during 18 -24 hours at a temperature of 75 - 80 C.
    The sufficiently high temperature of the process affected the taste and the bouquet of the future drink. Even though the enlightened French people called these wines "the boiled ones", everybody recognized that Cahors wines differed by their intensive colours, splendid bouquet and velvety taste with well - expressed chocolate or prunes tones. But the main thing was that wines produced in that region were well - preserved, which allowed to transport them far without any difficulties. And already in the 13th century the glory of Cahors reached many other countries beyond France.   
      Moreover, the doctors discovered the magical effect of these wines on human bodies. The wines did not only destroy liver but essentially improved its actively. What is more, they regulated the work of stomach and cardio - vascular system. As a result Cahors from ordinary well - preserved wines moved to the grade of exclusive ones, meant for nobility, kings and popes.     
       As for Russia, Cahors was brought here at the beginning of the 18th century during the times of a Russian Czar Peter the Great. It was said that Peter had a stomach disease and following doctors prescriptions he did drink exclusively Cahors. Who knows if the honour to rename the word "Cahors" into an easily - pronounced - in - Russian word "Kagor" belongs to Peter with his secret and simultaneously evident passion for Holland and Germany.
     Peter the Great could not but acquaint with these wines the nobility and The Highest Clergy. The Latter in Its turn for a long time tried to find the answer for a question: what wine could be used and had to be used in different rituals of worship. If in Catholicity a priest shares with congregation only bread during the ritual, the Orthodox Christians get Holly bread and wine. It is made deliberately to remind them about blood of Christ, the sacrifice for people's sins.   
   At those times there were about 50 thousand churches in Russia and needs for church wine were really great - 300 thousand dl annually. Due to the fact that no grape wine was produced in Russia at that time big amount of false wine appeared at the market , not only of Russian origin but also brought from abroad.        It was said that in the 19th century the Russian Clergy offered French wine makers to create special wine for church. It was even reported that there was an agreement concluded with French wine makers, whose duties were to prepare deep red concentrated sweet wine meant for worships in Orthodox cathedrals. It was made sweet on purpose for children to like its original taste and not to spit it during the ritual.  
    Thus there appeared a new Kagor modernized for Russia and it was meant for the congregation to remind them about the blood of Christ. The deal was estimated in a sum sufficient for those times. According to the agreement the French part had no right to sell this wine to anybody else but to Russian part. After the Revolution in 1917 the contract was canceled. The Russian Church paid for all expenses  of French wine makers who had to stop producing such wine.
   This story is very similar to the truth for the currently produced French Cahors are not dessert wines, differently from Russian Kagors.


   Let's put all the legends aside for a while and appeal to facts. Here they are. In 1902 the first Russian conference of wine makers and wine dressers headed by duke L.S. Golitsin took place in Moscow. The Russian Clergy participated in the conference with enthusiasm. The conference decided to have 2 types of church wine: the first one for the church needs (church rituals), the second one for the use out of church.  The necessary requirement for ritual church wine was its red colour, otherwise it could be both dessert or dry.
   The wine for out-of-church use considering demands of the population had to be sweet (dessert or liqueur). It was decided to name it "Kagor".
   In any case it was allowed to create wines only from the grape and use exclusively vine alcohol to increase the effect of wines. The sugar amount could be increased by adding concentrated grape juice.
   The name "Kagor" was chosen because the Church remembered the remedy qualities of the wine drunk by Peter the Great and understood its responsibility before the society. Most probably the Church Itself insisted on the same healthy qualities of the wine as Cahors wines. It was the reason for Kagor to get his new name with slightly Holland - German accent. But the wines themselves are Russian and they have nothing in common with Cahors!
  In April, 24, 1915 the Emperor Nikolay the Second signed a law about the grape wines in Russia. It was determined by the document that the church ritual wine for all congregations of all Russian Orthodox churches had to be produced by good and reliable wine making companies. Simultaneously technological bases for creating red church and other dessert wines were designed.
     Strange as it is after the Revolution of 1917 the Soviet Russia did not only stop the production of Kagor but contrary to what was expected, increased its amount and sufficiently innovated the technology. These innovations improved qualities of Kagor making it one of the most popular wine in Russia .
  Currently we have several technologies for the production of Russian Kagor. One of the technologies slightly resembles Cahors production technology, though the only process they have in common is heating of material, while the temperature standards are thoroughly different.     
  The initial raw material for wine is Saperavi grape with sugar content not lower than 20 - 24%%. The grapes are separated from bunches and crushed and then is placed in vats with the installed copper boilers which contain steam. The heating helps to receive colouring, extractive and other substances. The received material is directed for fermentation. The ready wine is produced through combining fermentative juice, 70% wine alcohol and concentrated grape syrup in proportion 13 : 1 : 3,5. This proportion must be strictly observed.
  The above - described technology is being used for production of the famous "Kagor Juznobereznii" a brilliant drink of dark ruby colour with rich bouquet and harmonic taste which contains cream, black currants, prunes and chocolate tones. The drink is so splendid that the Pope Himself uses this wine named "The Church Wine".      
  The second technology has nothing to do with Cahors wine technology at all. The raw material for the second technology can be any vine of red sorts with high sugar content, for example Saperavi, Cabernet, Sovignon, Kahet, Morastel. In this case it is allowed to dry the grapes on vine to increase its sugar content. Fermentised grape juice is added to natural sweet wines in such a proportion that the resulting sugar content would not be lower than 18%. After that vine alcohol is being added to increase the alcohol content up to 15 % and the received liquid is being heated up to 65 Celsius for a long time.     

    Survey of Kuban Kagors

  The real Kagor is produced only on the territory of modern Russia and on the territories of some former USSR republics (Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, etc).
  The best Kagors in Russia are produced on the territory of Kuban which is located on the Black sea coast of Russia. Annually there are specialized contests. The Highest ranks of Russian Orthodoxy and wine experts are the members of jury. These contests are widely reported about in the local and Russian mass-media which helps customers to make the right choice.  
   The permanent winners among the wines are the following Kagors:
 - "Kagor 32" produced in Vitjazevo (region of Anapa)
 - "Kagor 30" and "Kagor 32" produced in Zaporozeskaja (region of Taman)
 - "Kagor Sobornii" produced in Anapa
 - "Kagor" produced in Sauk-Dere.

   But in this article we'll tell you only about one type of Kagor - "Kagor 32" from Vitjazevo winery. 32 means 16% of sugar and 16% of alcohol. It is bottled in 0,7 L packing. The wine is produced from the local sorts of grape: Kabernet, Saperavi, Sovignon and others. The sugar percentage in grape is no less than 20%. To have such high sugar content the grape is collected late in autumn. That is why Kagor taste resembles dry grapes.
  It is of concentrated ruby colour tinged with brown. Pouring it into glasses one can notice an attractive viscous substance which leaves its beautiful marks even after drinking. Even the fist sip makes you aware how much different this wine is from all other drinks.
    The wine is sufficiently strong and one can feel its effects in 2-3 minutes after trying. But at the same time the wine is extremely soft and pleasant for the mouth. And there is nothing left after starting but to continue drinking! The taste gives a complicated gamma of fruits: prunes, dry grape, cherries and black currants in combination with cream which is irresistible even to home pets.
  Smelling it from just opened bottle, one will never notice any fragrance of alcohol but only aroma of dry grapes and some unknown unexpectedly tender components. The fragrance expands while pouring the wine into glasses.
  It is not accidental that "Kagor 32" won first prizes at the contests and of course it deserves trying. On our opinion it is possible to consider "Kagor 32" a standard.
    Notice: the period of keeping of "Kagor 32" as well as all other Kagors is unlimited, if to preserve them at a temperature 12 - 14 Celsius. 50 years old Kagor gives the richest fragrance. If you do not plan to keep it so long we suggest you to use it within a couple of months after buying. You may not mind the temperature in this case. You'll discover its beneficial nature completely, sipping it unhurriedly and giving a chance to every drop to reveal itself. The wine is served at a room temperature.
  Many other local wineries produce excellent Kagors too. Their quality is undoubted. Our next article we'll be devoted to these drinks. Learn more details!


  Thus, you have just witnessed the birth of new sort of wine - Russian Kagor. To be more exact its confirmation as an independent type, in an all - inclusive wine classification. Since Kagor is not produced nowhere else but in Russia and some other former republics of the USSR, its best types produced in modern Russia can be considered a standard. It is unbelievable that wineries of other countries would ever start the production of Kagor. But it is equally unfair to deprive the world community of such a drink. That is why we attract attention of all people who are fond of good wines to this legendary unique drink - Russian Kagor.  
  Russian Kagor is a wine which is appropriate for any occasion and it can be used during all meals. But the drink is more impressive when we fill the glasses before serving desserts. Even though it formally belongs to dessert wines, in reality any wine specialist will be surprised to discover its absolute originality.

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