#WineWednesday Spotlight #157: Shavnabada Saperavi

For Food & Wine‘s executive editor Ray Isle, Georgia is “The Oldest Newest Wine Region in the World.” “Tasting traditionally made wine in Georgia,” he writes, “is like taking a trip back through those eight millennia.” But things have changed significantly since the Soviet era and many traditional winemakers are now bottling and selling their wines in Tbilisi and abroad. That’s the case of the Shavnabada Monastery just outside Tbilisi where the monks have restored the old wine cellar and are now making and exporting Rkatsiteli, Mtsvane and Saperavi in the traditional qvevri style. We’re in the cellar at Shavnabada, a Georgian Orthodox monastery originally built in the 12th century and rebuilt in the 17th, shut down again in the Soviet era and reopened after that. Eleven monks live and work here. All around the stone building the boxwoods are in bloom, and the air is filled with their scent. Brother Markus’ cell phone rings—the ringtone is the brrring, brrring of an old-fashioned rotary phone. He glances at it and puts it back in the pocket of his robe. As to why they started making wine again, he says, “Georgia is a country of hospitality. When someone comes to your … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #157: Shavnabada Saperavi

#WineWednesday Spotlight #123: Balla Géza Fetească Neagră

“There’s much more to Romanian wine than cheap Pinot,” writes wine columnist Henry Jeffreys in Food & Wine. “ The country has a wealth of indigenous grapes such as Fetească Regală and Crâmpoşie for whites, and for reds Fetească Neagră, Novac and the wonderfully named Negru de Drăgăşani (it’s pronounced something like Drer-ger-sharn which sounds like a character from Game of Thrones).” A trip to visit Romanian wineries took him to the historical city of Timișoara in Western Romania and the nearby Balla Géza Winery: Timișoara has the feel of a miniature Vienna or Budapest. The west of Romania used to be part of the Austro-Hungarian empire and there’s still a strong Hungarian influence. Balla Géza, owner of another vineyard near the city, Princess Winery (they do love a Princess in Romania) is Hungarian. Alongside the Romanian and international varieties he grows Hungarian grapes such as the white Furmint (famous for Tokaji) and the reds Kadarka and Kekfrankos (Blaufrankisch in Austria) He was manager for the state wine company and when Communism collapsed managed to buy up the best land at very reasonable prices, he told me with a glint in his eye. Tourism is very important for him too. … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #123: Balla Géza Fetească Neagră

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