“It’s no surprise Georgia produces good wines – it’s been at it a really long time,” writes Bryan Flewelling, wine director for three restaurants in Portland, Maine after tasting a selection of Georgian wines vinified in the same way they were 8,000 years ago.
The standouts of the tasting were both produced by the Doqi winery, located in the wine region of Kakheti. One was an amber, or orange, wine made from Georgia’s most important white grape, rkatsiteli, and the other was a red wine made from Georgia’s most important red grape, saperavi. Both are vinified in the traditional Georgian quervi, large earthenware pots that are buried underground to stabilize the fermenting temperature throughout the winter months.
The Rkatsiteli Quervi was the color of lightly steeped tea, the result of extended skin contact. When red grapes are crushed and the skins are left in contact with the fermenting juice, they turn red – most of you know this. When white grapes are crushed and the skins are left in contact with the fermenting juice, a practice that’s infrequent, the wine turns amber. It smelled of spice and honey and yellow raisins. I know that sounds dessert-like, but it’s not. Imagine honey without the sweetness if you can. And, because of the long skin contact, the finished wine picks up some tannins, which is unusual for a white wine. Different and fantastic are my descriptors.
“If, occasionally, you need to inject a bit of novelty into the familiar aspects of your life,” concludes Bryan, “then these wines will be the perfect infusion.”