“In Leningrad, back in 1990,” writes Wine & Spirits Executive Editor Tara Q. Thomas, “the Georgian bars were the place to be.” Nowadays, bars are everywhere in Tbilisi, the country’s capital, and the wines you have in your glasses “are anything but thick, semisweet reds. They come in all shades, from pale and fizzy to dark amber to bright red. They include such a panoply of grape varieties that keeping track of them makes my head swim. After 69 years of Soviet rule, the new reality, when it comes to winemaking, is that there are no rules.” There’re indeed no rules for the Wine Thieves, a negociant company founded by three friends Avto Kobakhidze, Givi Apakidze and Zaza Asatiani except get “The finest Georgian wine ‘stolen’ for you.”. The three friends bottle and sell the wines of small family wineries with no resource to market their own production themselves. Tara Q. Thomas gave 92 points to Wine Thieves’ amber-colored qvevri-aged Rkatsiteli: 92 Points. Avto Kobakhidze and Givi Apakidze worked with a grower in the village of Kachreti for this rkatsiteli, fermented and aged in qvevri with skins, and stems for about six months. Marigold-yellow, it’s a meaty, earthy wine with … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #163: Wine Thieves Rkatsiteli
“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
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
Patrick Comiskey, wine critic at the LA Times recently interviewed former wine director at République and the Hancock Park restaurant, Taylor Parsons: “The flavors and textures of the wines were unlike anything I’ve ever tasted,” says Parsons, 37, who like many sommeliers makes regular trips to the wine regions of France, Germany and Spain. “Very little of what they’re doing is reasonable by Western standards, but the wines are so expressive. And it’s all set in an incredibly ancient winemaking tradition where wine has penetrated deeply and completely into the culture, in ways that I had never experienced before.” Taylor Parsons is particularly fond of the 2004 Shavnabada Mtsvane: As delicious as it is unusual. Aged in qvevri for 11 years before bottling. Waxy, dense and totally intriguing — it tastes of walnuts and quince, honeycomb and dusty old books. Loads of tannin with plenty of freshness. To learn more about Georgian wines and check Taylor Parsons’ recommendations, read the whole article: Why one L.A. wine expert has Georgia on his mind. The country, that is.
We just received our shipment of doqi wines, a new label made by the Schuchmann winery, a Georgian wine producer founded by German-born Burkhard Schuchmann. The wines are skillfully vinified by native Georgian Georgi Dakishvili, a third generation winemaker. The doqi wines come in two styles: “Euro style”, fresh and fermented in stainless steel, and “Qvevri”, the traditional Georgian way of making wine in clay vessel buried in the ground. Read what wine professional Kerry Winslow has to say about the doqi Kisi Qvevri over at grapelive.com: For a long time we though of Georgia as a red wine making country, though in fact, something that I learned recent at a brilliant seminar given by Lisa Granik MW, it is white wine which is most made/grown in Georgia, with grapes like this Kisi, and Mtsvane, as well as the most widely planted varietal Rkatsiteli. The Doqi Kisi Qvervi is a skin contact white with lovely aromatics and fine texture with tannic vibrancy and slightly cloudy showing a light pink/yellow tint, it is an “Orange” wine, though not as savory or as wildly funky as some, this would be a great way to start your exploration into Georgian traditional wine, Doqi … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #62: doqi Kisi Qvevri
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.
The journey down the Danube river continues! As you know, our company is named Blue Danube Wine because the wines we source come from the countries through which the Danube river flows. If you continue to follow the river, it empties into the Black Sea, at the Republic of Georgia. It only makes sense that we expand our selection of Georgian wines. Stetson Robbins, our New York Sales manager, has been to Georgia twice and personally selected the new wines we are excited to introduce. Read our interview with him to learn more about the country, the wines, and why you need to try them! Be sure to read part two for more information on the producers and grape varieties. Tell us a bit about Georgia as a country? S: What a special place! I was struck during my visits by the geological, biological, and cultural differences throughout the relatively small country. Georgia is truly at the crossroads of civilization. The triangle-shaped country is one of Europe’s most diverse landscapes. Situated between a desert, Caucasian peaks, and the Black and Caspian seas, many different climatic influences can be seen. This also contributes to a density of biological diversity. As you … Continue reading Introduction to Georgia: A Brief Discussion of an 8,000 Year History
Long before stainless steel and oak barrels, Georgians used giant clay pots, called qvevri, to ferment and age wine. The practice is now seeing a revival throughout Georgia with excellent results. It takes about three months for an artisan like Remi Kbilashvili to craft a new qvevri. Kbilashvili’s craft is a living totem to Georgia’s 8,000-year-old wine-making heritage; in 2013, UNESCO, the United Nation’s education organization, recognized the qvevri as an element of “intangible cultural heritage of humanity.” Read the rest of this fascinating article by Daniella Cheslow for McClatchy DC. Browse our Georgian wines.
Daniella Cheslow reports on the rich winemaking history of Georgia for NPR. Georgia’s winemaking heritage goes back 8,000 years and centers on the qvevri, a cavernous terra-cotta pot shaped like an egg, lined with beeswax and buried to the mouth underground. But these ancient vessels were sidelined by the industrial wine production dictated by seven decades of Soviet rule. Over the past 10 years, however, qvevri wine has slowly recovered. Today, it is a calling card for Georgian wine around the world. Read the rest of the article here. Browse our Georgian wines.