#WineWednesday Spotlight #144: Gotsa Family Wines Chinuri

“I’ve been reading the Iliad recently.” At the Paris Review, Valerie Stivers invites us to grill and drink with Homer. A central lesson of the Iliad is the terrifying fragility of the things that bring us together, and the importance of safeguarding them. In that spirit, it becomes a wonderful book to cook from, and turns out to be full of scenes of communality where the Greek troops mark events of social and religious significance with feasting and drinking wine. To eat like Achilles, she invented an Homeric grilling-and-skewering technique with a boneless leg of lamb, wrapped in pork belly. But how to find wines that tasted like the ones mentioned by Homer? In the Iliad, we learn that the wines are coming from ancient regions like Thrace, a large area in Eastern and Southeastern Europe, bounded by the Balkan Mountains to the north, the Aegean Sea to the south and the Black Sea to the east. She consulted with a couple of wine directors including Patrick Cournot of Ruffian Wine & Food in Manhattan’s East Village and found some startlingly delicious bottles that went perfectly with the grilled meat. Among them, the Gotsa Chinuri 2015: This wine from the … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #144: Gotsa Family Wines Chinuri

#WineWednesday Spotlight #128: Gotsa Family Wines Mtsvane

Earlier this year, Cliff Rames, Contributing-Editor-at-Large for The SOMM Journal and founder of Wines of Croatia presented the wines of Croatia and Georgia at SommCon in San Diego. Here is his introduction to the Gotsa Family Wines Mtsvane: Using traditional techniques, the winery team ferments the white Mtsvane grapes on the skins with native yeast in amphora vessels (called qvevri) for nine months. holes are drilled in the amphora, and once fermentation is complete, the vessels are unplugged and the wine is gravity-fed into amphora below for an additional 16 months of aging. The resulting wine is bottled without filtration or sulphur. The versatile style of these orange wines allows them to easily transition from course to course. “There’s certainly enough tannin in this wine to go with stek,” said Jay James. “I kind of feel like I need one at the moment!” Tasting Notes: negroni-like aromas of driend Turkish apricots, orange peel, and hints of blonde tobacco. Tannic with flavors of burnt caramel and a slight hoppy quality on the finish. Beka Gotsadze lives in Asureti, an ancient village in the foothills of of the Greater Caucasus, about 30 minutes away from Tbilisi. Beka is a creative architect who … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #128: Gotsa Family Wines Mtsvane

#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 #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

Visiting Gotsa in Georgia

In September, I had the opportunity to go to Georgia on a tour for wine buyers. I was lucky enough to meet Beka Gotsadze of Gotsa and have one of the most quintessentially Georgian experiences of my entire trip. On the first night, we went to Gotsa Winery in the mountains above Tbilisi, greeted by a boisterous group comprised of winemaker, wife, dogs, and kids milling around a few old qvevri. We made our way to the cellar – first the upper room full of fermentation qvevri and then the lower room with the qvevri for aging – while Beka’s wife, Nina, gently teased him about his English (hers is perfect, of course). After tasting a mix of 2014 and 2015 vintages with cheese and bread provided to soak up the wine, we moved on to tasting what Beka likes to call his “experiments.” First, a Tsitska petillant naturel that was yeasty and rich with a lightness and acidity that was surprising, given it had just been bottled to finish off its fermentation. Then, some more Tsitska under flor in qvevri. And a few sips of 2015 Chinuri – bright, herbaceous and firmly tannic – to finish with before our … Continue reading Visiting Gotsa in Georgia

#WineWednesday Spotlight #85: Gotsa Family Wines Chinuri

As co-founder and owner of Taste Georgia, Sarah May Grunwald provides culinary and wine tours to Georgia as well as wine education services to educate the public and trade about Georgia’s ancient qvevri wine making traditions. Of all the wine producers that we met during her numerous trips to Georgia, she considers Beka Gotsadze of Gotsa Family Wines to represent the future of Georgian natural wine: He makes multiple wines from different varieties, has low yielding vineyards at higher than average elevation, has Biodynamic certification, makes an ancestral sparkling wine AND is not afraid of a little Flor happily growing on his wine. Here is what she says about his 2015 Chinuri: His 2015 Chinuri is a marvel. Indeed, it is the best qvevri wine I tasted from the 2015 vintage. Now, while I am a huge fan of the funky, heavy skin contact wines from Kakheti, the Chinuri, still amber and made “natural” in qvevri is by far one of the purest expressions of Chinuri I have had. It is full of complexity on the nose and in the palate and it is fun. Full of citrus peel, sage, hints of nutty aromas, wet alpine stones, green plums. With … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #85: Gotsa Family Wines Chinuri

#WineWednesday Spotlight #70: Gotsa Mtsvane

With 94 points out of 100, the Gotsa Mtsvane 2013 was one of James Melendez AKA James the Wine Guy‘s top Top 100 Wines for 2016: Exotic wood, citrus peel, lemon tones, cardamon and white flowers, gorgeous. When you’re tasting this wine, you’re thinking it’s going to be really sweet. No, it’s not, it’s completely dry. So on the very very initial contact with the palate, it’s giving this expression of a dry white wine or dry orange wine I’d better say, and gives some coarse notes of fresh Turkish fig, pomegranate, white flower, stones, and honey tones as well. Watch the video: Gotsa Babaneuri Valley Mtsvane ’13 94 Points Check our selection of outstanding Qvevri fermented wines from Gotsa here. Find out James’ favorite wines for 2016. Among them, a few from Blue Danube Wine Co.: Kindzmarauli Kakhetian Royal 2013 – 93 Points: video Muhr-van der Niepoort Samt & Seide 2012 – 94 Points: video Samuel Tinon Birtok 2014 – 94 Points Samuel Tinon Szent Tamás 2015 – 93 Points Shumi Tsinandali 2014 – 94 points Santé!

The Republic of Georgia – Everyone needs to go 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

Uncorking the Caucasus: Wines from Turkey, Armenia, and Georgia

In May 2015—after four years of deliberating and planning together—Charine Tan and Dr Matthew Horkey sold almost all of their possessions, dropped the comfort and security of their lucrative careers, and left Singapore to travel around the world with a dream of building a location-independent business and to absorb the world’s lessons. Driven by a common passion for wine, they ended up diverting all their attention and resources to the self-study of wine as they travelled through Western Europe, the Caucasus, ex-Yugoslavia, and Mexico. Uncorking the Caucasus is the first of a series of wine travel books that they will be writing. They also share wine travel tips, videos, wine-related stories, and exciting finds from lesser-known wine regions on their website exoticwinetravel.com. When prompted about the name “Exotic Wine Travel”, the duo explained that the problem with lesser-known wine regions and exotic wines is that too often, visitors bounce around a country swiftly and end up tasting some substandard, local wines. For that reason, Charine and Matthew aim to explore some of the lesser-known wine regions and introduce the readers to the best they have to offer with even some anecdotal insight into their peculiarity. This should encourage wine lovers … Continue reading Uncorking the Caucasus: Wines from Turkey, Armenia, and 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