More than 500 varieties of native grapes. A multi-millennia-old winemaking tradition in clay vessel or qvevri. In fact, Georgia have been making wines almost forever. Then around 320 AD, Saint Nino of Cappadocia arrived in Georgia with a cross made of a vine and wine became a symbol of Christianity. Thereafter, wines has been playing a vital role in the celebration of religious events and rituals and is now an integral part of Georgia’s cultural identity and heritage. Over the summer, we received a new shipment of Georgian wines and what’s exciting about these new wines is that they epitomize the diversity of the Georgian production: Rkatsiteli, Mtsvane, Kisi, Saperavi from Kakheti in the East, Tsitska and Krakhuna from Imereti in the West, Chinuri from Kartli in the Center, and a Alexandria/Mudzhuretuli blend from Racha in the North. Rkatsiteli is to Georgia what Chardonnay is to California. It’s the “King of Kakheti” as Aleksi Tsikhilishvili explained to us when we visited his cellar last May. It’s Georgia’s most widely planted and most popular white grape variety. It has great structure and spiciness and becomes creamy, nutty and tannic when aged in qvevri. We just received an organic qvevri-aged Rkatsiteli from … Continue reading Georgian Wines are Exciting!
Today, an Instagram contribution by wine lover Michael Trainor @awordtothewine: have you tried the Amiran Otskhanuri Sapere 2015 with Cigarillos? It’s dark and oily. It’s got acid. It’s got structure. A bit viscous, maybe. It’s reminiscent of a freshly tarred road or roof in the hot Summer of my childhood and I could even feel that creeping anxiety of the new school year approaching. It pairs so perfectly with r/mr skirt steak. Keep it simple. Salt. Pepper. A slab of salted butter in the pan. Sizzle. Burn the flesh so you get that bitterness on the outside and maintain a beautiful bloody interior. Narrow slices, place it in your mouth, chew, then sip. Taste that? It also pairs well with #tobacco. I don’t typically enjoy tobacco with wine, but this pairs so well with Zino @davidoffcigars Brasil #Cigarillos Follow Michael on Instagram here.
It’s a tall order to put together a concise sales pitch for the wines of The Republic of Georgia because the food, language, culture, grapes, winemaking, and even geography are all largely unknown to most of us. However, very few places have such a strong national identity tied to wine that is something more than just patriotism, it’s about hospitality, eating and drinking well, and doing so despite a nearly non stop bombardment of their land for centuries. Nestled between the Caspian and Black Seas, it has both subtropical and alpine climates, the tallest mountains in Europe (Caucasus), and yet is smaller than South Carolina. The biodiversity is insane with roughly 500 indigenous grapes and their Qvevri (Kartuli method) is one the most compelling techniques linking people with wine I can think of. It has even been added to UNESCO’s “List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.” It’s a truly special place with hints of Iran, Turkey, Greece, Russia, Armenia and others, but has then melded, edited and created something unique. 8,000 years of unbroken winemaking using the same technique surely warrants giving these wines some attention. At the very least, please cook up some homemade Khinakli and Khachpuri, … Continue reading The Republic of Georgia – Everyone needs to go here
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
What Is Darker Than Black? By: Jeff Vejr, Winemaker at Golden Cluster, Wine Director at Holdfast Dining, Consultant at Winelist.Consulting, and Narrator & Host of the upcoming web series The Winesman. I would like to introduce you to the wine grape Otskhanuri Sapere. Otskhanuri Sapere is one of the oldest red grapes in Georgia. It is believed that the grape originated from the village of “Otskhana” in the Guria region, in the western part of the country. Sapere loosely translates to “something you color with” in Georgian. So, it is known as “Otskana’s colorful” or Otskhanuri Sapere. These days, the best examples of Otskhanuri Sapere are found in the districts of Baghdati, Zestaponi, and Terjola in the Imereti region of central Georgia. The grape can also be found in select locations in the Racha region of northern Georgia. It is also believed that while this grape is centuries old, it is maybe only 50% domesticated and 50% wild. Having seen the vineyard and tasted the grape, I can understand this belief. It also makes sense since Georgia is one of the few places left on Earth where “wild” wine grapes still exist. One of the noble attributes of Otskhanuri Sapere … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #19: Amiran’s Otskhanuri Sapere
Part two of our interview with Stetson focusing on introducing our new Georgian producers and some of the indigenous varietals to become familiar with. Read part one of our interview here. Let’s talk about the producers. How would you introduce them? S: I’ll start with Kindzmarauli Marani and Shumi who share a similar story. Both are larger, modern wineries, producing “European-style” wines. This means that instead of qvevri they use stainless steel and/or oak barrels. They are located on either side of the Alazani River, in Kakheti — Georgia’s largest wine region — within two major appellations. Kindzmarauli Marani is on the left bank in the Kindzmarauli appellation, known for semi-sweet reds. Shumi is on the right bank within Tsinandali, an important white wine appellation. Even though both are considered large wineries, there is so much care that goes into the wines. Instead of purchasing fruit, both source from their own estates. Both are also dedicated to Georgia’s viticultural future. You can find experimental vineyards at both estates with hundreds of varietals, both indigenous and international. The goal is to see which grapes are most successful in their conditions. It’s encouraging to see this interest in supporting Georgia’s rich viticultural … Continue reading Introduction to Georgia: Discussing Producers and Grape Varieties