Meet the maker: Token
During lockdown, the head sommelier of Corrigan’s Mayfair, Dmytro Goncharuk, once crowned “Best Sommelier of Ukraine”, and his wife, Alyona Mykhailova, a marketing and public relations specialist, hatched the idea of producing a boutique brace of wines. Having found these captivating in terms of their authentic, bright flavours, Douglas Blyde caught up with the busy Goncharuk to hear more…
How did Token come about?
We, as hospitality workers, spent the entire lockdown at home without work. In order not to go crazy, in the spring of 2020, we bought a boat, “Alethea”, and spent most of our time on it, dreaming of the future. And our plans were ambitious: to open a bar in London, start a winery with a hotel somewhere warm in proximity to the sea; we also thought about offering pub tours around London. But we kept coming back to wine – the product which proved even more popular with the public during lockdown than in normal times. The creation which accompanies us on holidays and at life’s special moments.
What steps did you take to realise your dream?
By autumn of 2020 we were ready to find a winemaker with vineyards from which we could interpret our own expression of the land, choosing the grapes, and taking part in all the processes along the journey towards ultimately bottling it under our own brand using bespoke labels. After a detailed search, and having tasted a great many samples, we found the ideal option in February 2021.
Where is the winery?
The wines are made by Giacomo Orlando from Orlando e Didonè Vinicoltori in Craoretto, Prepotto, Friuli Colli Orientali DOC from which the vineyards of Ribbola and Franconia are within walking distance. We intend to keep working with them and took part in the 2022 harvest.
What does the name “Token” signify?
We wanted to convey freedom, wandering, travelling, memories, emotion and nature. And we wanted our wine to become a small keepsake for people to order in a restaurant or bring home. Its taste and aroma to remind us of the wonderful times spent with friends and family. “Token” therefore capsulated the idea of the memory and association of taste with a happy moment.
Who inspired you to make wine?
My father and my grandfather. Every time I return to the village of Nadrichne in the Odessa region where my father is from, I am fascinated by how people treat wine, which is a part of everyday life. And, of course, I will never forget the aroma of the wine cellar. One day Alyona and I will make wine in this region. In fact, we have at least three areas in our sights, including the Canary Islands, having fallen in love with the wild vines of the volcanic Lanzarote.
How do the wines taste?
The Ribolla Gialla 2021 is a light white with good acidity and a touch of complexity which comes from fermenting a small part of the grapes on the skins in cask. The rest was pressed after a night of cryo-maceration. As a result, the aroma is full of lemon, spice and green apple followed by a fresh palate with a spicy finish and a soft texture due to a brief skin maceration. For our red, Franconia 2021, we picked the grapes not too late so as to preserve their freshness and peppery flavour. Fermentation took place in an open tank with regular punch downs. The nose shows the aromas of summer berries, cherries and black pepper, with a hint of violet followed by a medium to light-bodied palate with light tannins and a refreshing acidity.
Where can we find and buy the wines?
Token has already arrived at Corrigan’s restaurant. For other stockists, keep an eye on Instagram: @Token_Wine
In addition to the Token project, you were instrumental in bringing Ukrainian wines to the UK recently – how was the process?
It was not easy to begin with, to consolidate four winemakers and collect their wines in one place under the conditions of the constant shelling of the Mykolaiv and Odesa regions. Fortunately, Ukrainian wines may be easily purchased in the UK.