New Georgia

Iveri Bibineishvili
Iveri Bibineishvili (left) during harvest

In an attempt to spread our Georgian wings, we have added appellations, producers and styles. Bold, different wines of personality, tradition and irreverence that tease and challenge the palate in the best ways.

Chkhaveri Vineyard
Chkhaveri vineyard in December

First up is the tea and tobacco scented Bibineishvili Chkhaveri (impossible to pronounce) from Adjara in the south west, 5 miles from both Turkey’s northern border and the Black Sea. A numerically slight wine at 10.5% and dry, but it is compact, detailed and finely structured.

From the West where sometimes wine is made without skin contact, we have procured some lip smackingly snappy tsolikouri and a tsitska/tsolikouri blend from the Wine Thieves. Rather than stealing, this band of Georgian wine lovers and friends turned negociants are nurturing mevenakhe (vignerons) that make their best possible wines and market them under a common brand.

Paata Pataridze
Paata Pataridze

North of Imereti, from the mountainous wine region of Racha-Lechkhumi, cousins Paata and Shorena Pataridze are re-realizing their families historic role as winemakers. We imported half of the mere 350 bottles produced in 2016. The wine is mind-bogglingly smooth with delicate notes of forest fern, honey and the reddest of fruits. The 11g/l of residual sugar left after the fermentation naturally stopped, makes it an especially gentle drink.

Papari Valley is a young estate but we wager a very important one. The cellar and apartment of Nukri Kurdadze are located within the nearly 10 hectares of vines. The vineyards straddle an intersection where 3 of Kakheti’s greatest Saperavi terroirs intersect: Akasheni, Gurjanni and Mukuzani. 2/3 of their production is red and the remaining 1/3 is orange. The wines are archetypal expressions of native Georgian sorts made mostly in qvevri and never in oak.

Olaf Malver in the vineyard
Olaf Malver in the vineyard

Danieli Winery is the passion project of Olaf Malver Ph.D. and Eka Tchvritidze. Olaf is a Danish born Chemist, Eka a legendary Tushetian horse racer and trainer. Danieli “the Dane” is the baptismal name given to Olaf before he and Eka were married in an Orthodox monastery. Still in the early chapters of the Danieli project, their ambitions are to establish a world class estate based on Georgia’s noble grape varieties. The location they chose for their vineyards and winery is near the Alaverdi Monastery where they got married. The name of the nearby village Argoichki means “no hail.” Hail can be devastating in other parts of Kakheti in the late Spring, early Summer but Argoichki is in a parallel dead-end side valley, which creates a no hail zone. This terroir is famous for the Kisi grape variety, which is enjoying a resurgence after nearly disappearing during the country’s Communist period.

Lapati Pet Nat wines
Lapati Pet Nat wines

Qvevri pet-nat may sound absurdly hip but the ones made by French expatriate artists Guillaume Gouerou and Vincent Jullien are no joke. Together they have established a small but growing marani where everything is vinified in qvevri. More than half of the production is single fermentation sparkling wine. When disgorging, a substantial amount of pressure is lost. In order to mitigate the loss of CO2, much of the fermentation happens in glass. Consequently, some bottles become so pressurized that they explode. This is what the A-bomb labels make reference to. We also picked up a bit of their quite compelling carbo qvevri saperavi, Super-Ravi.

Before the new wave of Georgian wine, Aleksi Tsikhleshvili was working his vines and qvevri with an alchemist touch. However small his production, there is a palpable relationship between the man and his old-fashioned magnificent elixirs. The extended maceration whites are multi-dimensional and exotic while Jgia (also unpronounceable), an extremely rare red sort, is unusually pale and nuanced for a Kakhetian red.

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