Reviving an 8,000-year-old winemaking tradition in Georgia

Author and New York Times food columnist Melissa Clark recently interviewed John Wurdeman, an American painter who moved to the Georgian Republic to follow his two passions—wine and art—and funded the winery Pheasant’s Tears. Melissa Clark: How did this all start for you? John Wurdeman: I’m a visual artist, a painter by profession. I fell deeply in love with Georgia when I heard a recording when I was sixteen years old. I bought a CD called Georgian Folk Music Today. Immediately, the chords of the music just struck me very deeply. In 1995, I was able to go to Georgia for the first time. Strangely enough, on the very first night, I was whisked away from the airport and taken to a restaurant. About 10-15 toasts deep into the feast, musicians were summoned to come in, and they were the same musicians that were on the CD I bought when I was 16, back in Richmond, Virginia. MC: That’s amazing. And how did you go from there to making wine? JW: I came back in 1996. I needed a subject for my final painting. My master’s project that I was working on was in Moscow, so I decided to follow … Continue reading Reviving an 8,000-year-old winemaking tradition in Georgia

The weird and wonderful wines from the Republic of Georgia

Wine columnist Allison Alevine also attended the Republic of Georgia Wine seminar in Los Angeles last June. Georgia was a wine-producing country that she knew very little about and as such, she was excited by this opportunity to explore what might be the oldest wine-making region. I knew tasting the wines of Georgia would be different. But as they came around and poured the wines, a wine novice would question what was in front of them. Instead of the bright lemon or golden colors of white wines, the white wines ranged from yellow and golden to pale peach and orange. The red wines, however, are more the typical shades of purple, ruby and garnet that we are familiar with. The wines are made in large vessels called qvevri, which means “below.” These are concrete tanks built underground. If you are a fan of “The Amazing Race,” you will understand what I am talking about as this past season the teams were required as one of their challenges to clean out grapes skins from the qvevri at a winery in Georgia. Several of our wines were among her favorites: Orgo Kisi, Kakheti 2013 (fermented in gvevri, skin contact) – A hazy … Continue reading The weird and wonderful wines from the Republic of Georgia

Orange Wine Is a Summer Day-Drinking Revelation

When was the last time you heard someone shout “rosé all day?” Was it Fourth of July weekend at a friend’s BBQ, or maybe out on the patio at Everson Royce? America has undoubtedly hit peak rosé, but there is another beverage that falls between white and red on the color spectrum: orange wine. LA Weekly wine writer Erin Mosbaugh recently attended the Republic of Georgia Wine Seminar at République LA in Los Angeles. One of the highlights of the seminar was Wine Guru Lou Amdur‘s presentation on orange wines. Curious about this unique winemaking style traditionally found in Georgia, Slovenia and Italy, she asked République’s beverage director Taylor Parsons about his favorite orange wines. One of them was Kabaj Rebula 2012 from Slovenia: Jean-Michel Morel is one of the great practitioners of skin maceration, partially because of the time he spent learning the technique in the Shavnabada Monastery in Georgia. His Rebula is the best entry into his outstanding range of wines. Thirty days on the skins adds a wonderful textural complexity as well as spicy, woodsy flavors, and the wonderful natural acidity of the grape keeps everything fresh and balanced. Another favorite was Gotsa Family Wines Mtsvane 2013 … Continue reading Orange Wine Is a Summer Day-Drinking Revelation

#WineWednesday Spotlight #31: Kindzmarauli Marani Original

Continuing our celebration of Georgian wine month with Kindzmarauli Marani Original semi-sweet saperavi. The wine has been getting plenty of well deserved attention this month. Here are two independent reviews of the wine. One is by Tara Q. Thomas, Eastern European wine critic for Wine & Spirits Magazine, and the other is a video by James the Wine Guy, San Francisco-based wine vlogger. Kindzmarauli Marani Original 2014 (Best Buy) 90 points This saperavi is made in the traditional semi-sweet style but its not at all cloying. Rather, it tastes like wild cherries, from the leaves to the pits, intense in their clarity, then fades into a steaky, cedary savor. Its like the red version of a good Spätlese riesling, the sweetness serving to bolster flavor, and balance the strong acidity. And like a good Spätlese, this can go with a wide range of foods, in this case from grilled eggplant to seared steak to chunks of dark chocolate. -Tara Q. Thomas, Wine & Spirits Magazine June issue Now enjoy the video review by James the Wine Guy. He gives the wine 92 points citing its versatility at the table and the fact that it’s “not cloyingly sweet” as part of … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #31: Kindzmarauli Marani Original

Georgian Wine Historian Video

Check out this great video showing Giorgi Barisashvili, Georgian wine historian and educator, visiting the wine regions of Western Georgia. There he talks about rare, indigenous grapes and traditional Georgian winemaking practices. Last year a few members of our team were fortunate enough to meet Giorgi and spend some time with him in his marani (wine cellar). Here are a few pictures from that meeting: Browse all Georgian wines.

#WineWednesday Spotlight #30: Gotsa Chinuri

Review originally published in the June edition of Wine & Spirits Magazine. Written by Tara Q. Thomas. Tara has been a wine writer for about 15 years, mainly at Wine & Spirits, where she is the Executive Editor and the wine critic for wines of Austria, Germany, Hungary, Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean. A Wine & Spirits Wine of the Month for June! 2014 Gotsa Chinuri Beka Gotsadze grows 13 varieties in his vineyards in the hills of the Asureti Valley, at an elevation of 4,200. He works organically, and exclusively with qvevri (the local amphorae), though his techniques are not exactly traditional: His fermentation qvevri have holes drilled in their bottoms so that he can transfer the juice into aging qvevri by gravity; those qvevri are wrapped in silicon tubing that carries cool water from a nearby spring. Perhaps this is how he’s attained such a complex, delicate wine, as crisp and saline as it is redolent of orange blossoms, marzipan and salted capers. The tannins give it an edge of bitter tea, while the acidity keeps the wine lifted and fresh. It feels like it could age for decades; it lasts on the countertop indefinitely, and is especially … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #30: Gotsa Chinuri

#WineWednesday Spotlight #27: Kindzmarauli Marani Kakhetian Royal

Video review contributed by James Melendez aka James the Wine Guy. James is a San Francisco based wine vlogger “Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time. Passionate about wine, food, travel, science & technology.” Subscribe to his YouTube channel and never miss a review! 2013 Kindzmarauli Marani Kakhetian Royal Kakhetian Royal is a unique Appellation Controlled dry white made from a blend of three Georgian grape varieties – Mtsvane Kakhuri, Rkatsiteli and Khikhvi, all cultivated in the Kvareli region in Kakheti. Beautiful wine. I’m a huge fan of the Republic of Georgia wines. I think they are doing an amazing job; what a lineage. It’s a wine that I would start off with food, maybe charcuterie and cheese. James characterizes the aromas and flavor with descriptors such as “orange zest, beeswax, apricot, and exotic honey”. Watch the whole video now and be inspired to try a bottle! Learn more about Kindzmarauli Marani here. Learn more about the wines of Georgia here.

How to Get In On the Georgian Wine Revival

Even though Georgia’s winemaking tradition dates back 8,000 years, Georgian wines have only recently become more available in the United States. Carson Demmond suggests you pay attention to these wines in a recent article for Food & Wine. Ten years ago, Georgian wine might have earned a casual mention in conversations about Eastern European cuisine. Now, thanks to a handful of importers and well-traveled sommeliers, it’s at the forefront. Not only is Georgia home to one of the most generous of hospitality traditions – a wine-centric feast known as the supra – it also boasts a winemaking history that goes back a whopping 8,000 years. As early as the Bronze Age there, grape juice was being fermented in beeswax-lined clay vessels called qvevri buried in the ground, and fascinatingly, that’s still how much of the country’s wine is being made today. One suggested wine to try is 2013 Kindzmarauli Marani Saperavi: Kindzmarauli is both the name of a semi-sweet red made from the Saperavi grape and the name of one of the most important wineries in the Kakheti region, so make sure to look for the word ‘dry’ on the label. This is rich in color, velvety in texture, with … Continue reading How to Get In On the Georgian Wine Revival

Is the Country of Georgia the Next Great Wine Destination?

We think yes! The wines are truly distinct and the country is gorgeous. Tara Isabella Burton writes about her experience in Georgia for The Wall Street Journal. The entire original article can be read here. Traveling through Georgia, the tiny post-Soviet country set between the Caucasus and the Black Sea, is always a metabolic endurance test. Wine, brandy, chacha—a grape-skin moonshine with the flavor of gasoline schnapps—all these are habitually, exuberantly, foisted upon any foreigner who sits still long enough. But in the country’s primary wine region of Kakheti—according to Georgians, the birthplace of wine itself—consumption seems to be the primary occupation. Browse Georgian wines. For an easy introduction to the wines of Georgia, try our 6-Pack Georgian Discovery Sampler

#WineWednesday Spotlight #20: Kindzmarauli Marani Saperavi

Contributed by Christine Havens, Portland-based wine writer and former winemaker. Original review can be found here. A country with an ancient wine growing and winemaking heritage, Georgia is little more than a blip on the radar of the American wine scene. I hope that will change with time, as I have been favorably impressed by the wines I’ve sampled thus far. Credited as the birthplace of viticulture and even vitis vinifera itself, the country is home to some 500 indigenous varieties, the most widely cultivated of which are Saperavi and Rkatsiteli. (Some years ago, my former mother-in-law had planted a few rows of Rkatsiteli, a think skinned, bronzy-pink white variety that seemed oddly out of place with our more conventional rows of Syrah, Cabernet and Chardonnay. But that is another story, for another time.) The 2013 Kindzmarauli Marani Dry Red Saperavi offers up ripe, juicy plums, dried black cherries and earthy terra cotta notes. There is a pronounced but pleasant herbaceous note on the nose and palate, something akin to bay leaf or green wood intertwining a rather gorgeous structure trussed in firm tannins that are equally distributed across the palate. The mouthfeel of this wine is, in many ways … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #20: Kindzmarauli Marani Saperavi