#WineWednesday Spotlight #127: Lapati Kidev Erti Chinuri

“Crazy delicious, indeed,” writes Bon Appétit’s wine editor Marissa A. Ross. “And while I love French wines, Italian wines, and Spanish wines— honestly, all the wines—today Central European countries are the ones driving wine, and its culture, forward. They are fresh, invigorating, and mind-bending, proving that wine is constantly evolving and there is always something new to explore.” She recommends seven wild wines from Central Europe including the Lapati Kidev Erti Chinuri, one of her recent favorite bottles: This wine is buzzy in all the ways. Not only are Georgian pét-nats few and far between in the States, but this sparkler of the native white Chinuri grape evokes images of honeybees bustling around fresh citrus blossoms. Cloudy-dandelion in color, the Lapati Kidev Erti Chinuri smells and tastes like orange trees in the spring with wafts of cantaloupe, honey, and fresh laundry. With sudsy bubbles and bright acidity, pop it and you will be singing along with the chorus of Kendrick Lamar’s “Yah” in no time. Buzzin… This Georgian buzzy bubbly is a natural white sparkling wine made by two French natural wine makers Vincent Jullien and Guillaume Gouerou, who founded Lapati Wines in Georgia in order to make natural wines … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #127: Lapati Kidev Erti Chinuri

#WineWednesday Spotlight #120: Danieli Mukuzani

“If I may,” the Count interjected. “For a serving of Latvian stew, you will find no better choice than a bottle of the Mukuzani.” Leaning toward their table and mimicking the perfectly parted fingers of Andrey, the Count gestured to the entry on the list. That this wine was a fraction of the cost of the Rioja need not be a matter of a discussion between gentlemen. Instead, the Count simply noted: “The Georgians practically grow their grapes in the hopes that one day they will accompany such a stew.” The young man exchanged a brief glance with his companion as if to say, Who is this eccentric? But then he turned to the Bishop. “A bottle of the Mukuzani.” ‘A Gentleman In Moscow,’ By Amor Towles One of our customers called us recently, asking if we had any Mukuzani. “I’m part of a book club and we’re reading ‘A Gentleman In Moscow.’ We’ll be making a Latvian stew and we’ll like to serve a Mukuzani with it.” For sure, wines from the Saperavi grapes from the Mukuzani vineyard are considered by many to be the best of the Georgian red wines. Mukuzani is aged in oak casks for a … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #120: Danieli Mukuzani

#WineWednesday Spotlight #118: doqi Rkatsiteli Qvevri

“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 … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #118: doqi Rkatsiteli Qvevri

#WineWednesday Spotlight #116: doqi Mtsvane Qvevri

Do the people of Georgia and Baltimore have anything in common? According to Michael Trainor @awordtothewine, they do. They’re both mentally tough and have a solid work ethic. For Michael, the doqi Mtsvane Qvevri 2014 is Baltimore’s perfect cultural fit: diverse, firm, salty, savory, yet with an elegant charm. It’s the wine to sip overlooking the harbor from Federal Hill: Growing up in Baltimore City is akin to fermenting on the skins, seeds, and stems. Step up and you’ll find that diplomacy comes wrapped in a fist. We may have a blunt edge, but our honesty and big hearts charm. . I’ve been thinking that childhood is fermentation for people. Fermentation in my neighborhood required that our mothers often filter our foul mouths with soap. I’m not joking. My friend’s mother made him wash his mouth out with soap. Unfortunately, he swallowed quite a bit too much and his mother had to take him to the hospital. I assure you this taught him nothing and his mouth was dirtier than ever afterwards. . . doqi Mtsvane may have been made close 6,000 miles from my hometown, but drinking this wine I have to imagine that the people of Georgia have … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #116: doqi Mtsvane Qvevri

New Georgia

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. 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. 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 … Continue reading New Georgia

Introducing our new Georgian producer: Bibineishvili Winery

The southwestern subtropical region of Guria/Adjara is known for tea, citrus and the cultish local Chkhaveri. This ancient pinkish-violet grape variety is originally a maghlari vine trained to grow up trees. Wine from Chkhaveri can be hypnotic, light but resonant, textured and tea-like. Exactly how Chkhaveri is suppose to be made or taste has been lost, but as far as Luka Bibineishvili is concerned, it’s “Aia Yi!”, which roughly translates as “This is it!.” Chkhaveri is likely a pre-Christian Meskhetian variety. The ancient region of Meskheti had a highly developed wine culture and was possibly responsible for the invention of iron metallurgy. Before the Ottoman rule in the 16th century, wine from Meskheti was famous outside the region. Unfortunately, almost 100 known aboriginal species were lost to the Turks. Today, only 30 or so hectares of Chkhaveri exist made of small plots of less than 0.5 hectare. Production never stopped, the vineyards and traditions only moved into the protected highlands where old vineyards of forgotten sorts can be found in the forest. The Bibineishvili family farms 0.6 hectares, 0.4 planted to Chkhaveri, the remainder to Megrelian Ojaleshi, Tsolikuri, Tsitska and Krakhuna. The winery is located in the Adjaran village of … Continue reading Introducing our new Georgian producer: Bibineishvili Winery

Introducing our new Georgian producer: Lapati Wines

Lapati Wines is the joint project of French-born Guillaume Gouerou and Vincent Jullien. The two men met originally at the Art Villa Garikula, a Center for Contemporary Arts in Georgia. Vincent was there to realize his first experiments of natural sparkling wine with grapes from the villa and Guillaume was invited as an artist. They completed their Marani (traditional Georgian cellar) in Sagarejo, Kakheti in 2015 and currently produce about 3,500 bottles. Natural sparkling wines comprise more than half their production. About half of the grapes comes from their own vines in Kakheti and Shida Kartli. The remainder comes from growers who are also farming organically. They only buy what is necessary to allow them to fully fill the four one-ton qvevris they have buried in the marani. They intend to eventually increase the production but not beyond 10,000 bottles as they want to personally handle all aspects of production. The Saperavi Super Ravi (in French, the word “ravi” means “happy”) cuvée is made by placing whole clusters of Saperavi from the village of Mukuzani into two qvevris. After sealing the qvevris with clay, the wine ferments for 2 weeks with carbonic-acid gas. There is not much compression in a … Continue reading Introducing our new Georgian producer: Lapati Wines

#WineWednesday Spotlight #104: Shavnabada Rkatsiteli

Sierra Dawn Downey tells stories through illustrating, writing, and photography and teaches about wine. She recently attended a tasting of Georgian wines at The Barrel Room in San Francisco and was particularly fascinated by the Shavnabada Rkatsiteli, a rich amber-colored wine made by monks from the Shavnabada Monastery that spent 9 years buried in the earth after 5 months of maceration: Ever since listening to @winefornormalpeople’s episode on Georgian wines, I’ve been incredibly curious to try some for myself. Thanks to the intrepid wine gurus at @barrelroomsf, I was able to travel to Eastern Europe via its vino and dive into the world of amphorae wines! I can honestly say I’ve never quite experienced history on my tongue and in my nose as I did with this flight. When I tried the amber-colored Shavnabada Rkatsiteli, made by Georgian Orthodox monks in Kakheti who age it for years in qvevris, it brought to mind creaking old stone-and-wood buildings decorated with decades of dust. Tree resin, herbs, treated wood. It was fascinating. She also tasted the Gotsa Tavkveri and the doqi Saperavi: Then it was on to the Gotsa Rosé of Tarkveri, the color of a vivid sunset in my glass–with the … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #104: Shavnabada Rkatsiteli

#WineWednesday Spotlight #98: Doqi Saperavi

Another good review from The Wine Enthusiast Magazine for the doqi Saperavi: This red-violet-colored wine has a bouquet of raspberry and lingonberry. Velvety tannins create a backdrop for flavors of blackberry, cranberry, vanilla and fennel. Notes of cranberry shine through on the bright finish. 89 Points If you like dark, fragrant and full-bodied wines, you should try this Saperavi from the new doqi label of German-born Burkhard Schuchmann. Also, if you want to learn more about the different styles of Georgian wines, compare this doqi Saperavi, aged in a combination of stainless steel and in French oak barriques, with the doqi Saperavi Qvevri, fermented in qvevri in the traditional Georgian style. And don’t forget to cheer. Gaumarjos! To your victory!

#WineWednesday Spotlight #97: Gotsa Family Wines Tsitska

“Traditional Georgian wines are like nothing else you’ll taste,” writes Wine expert and The Vinguard founder Pamela Busch. Beyond the strangeness of the varietals, they are often fermented and aged in large egg-shaped amphora known as qvevri (sometimes written as kvevri). These earthen clay vessels were first used 8,000 years ago and are making a bit of a resurgence with producers from Italy to California preferring them to tanks or barrels. Among the wines Pamela tasted at a recent San Francisco event organized by The Georgian Wine Association and The National Wine Agency of Georgia, one of the highlights was the Gotsa Family Wines 2014 Tsitska: Beka Gotsadze grandfather founded Gotsa it in the 19th Century and he has shepherded it into the modern age with terrific traditionally made wines. It has been organic since 2007 and will be Demeter certified in 2018. Tsitska is a thick-skinned ancient white grape. This wine did not have any skin contact but still has a little girth – not much – think Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot. Fermented and aged in amphora, it has a clean minerality with saline, Meyer lemon and a touch of honey in the nose. Follow Pamela … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #97: Gotsa Family Wines Tsitska