Georgian Wines are Exciting!

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!

#WineWednesday Spotlight #150: doqi Rkatsiteli Qvevri

The doqi Rkatsiteli Qvevri is Editor in Chief of SevenFifty Daily Erica Duecy‘s new Georgian friend: Doqi, my new Georgian friend of the mysteriously scripted label. True, I may not be able to read the Georgian alphabet, but here’s what I know about the wine: It’s qvevri fermented and aged Rkatsiteli with bright notes of apricots and orange zest, honey and baking spices, and an appealing tea-like astringency. To make these wine, grapes are pressed and then fermented in qvevri (clay vats) with the juice, grape skins, stalks, and pips. After macerating for several months on the skins, the white wine develops its amber color. Thanks @themaritimerepublic for the intro. We just received a new shipment of doqi wines from Georgia. You should try them out, there’re delicious. And stay on top of the wine news with Erica Duecy at SevenFifty Daily.

#WineWednesday Spotlight #140: Shavnabada Rkatsiteli

Just a few weeks ago, the Blue Danube Wine Co. team was happy to visit the beautifully preserved Shavnabada Monastery and taste its traditionally made wines with winemaker Giorgi Abramashvili. Shavnabada Monastery is a medieval Georgian Orthodox monastery on top of a mountain of the same name. Located 15 miles south of Tbilisi, it was built in honor of St. George who, according to legend, wore a black cloak (shavi nabadi in Georgian) when leading the armies of the King of Georgia. The monastery has also been renowned for its wines made by the Monks and aged in traditional qvevris. Today, Giorgi Abramashvili is in charge of the winemaking with the help of the Monks. The monastery owns vineyards in the Kakheti wine region in Eastern Georgia that are organically farmed under the supervision of the Monks. It also uses grapes from nearby vineyards owned by friends. After the harvest, the grapes are foot trodden in the “Satsnakheli”, a traditional wooden press, and then poured into qvevris where they macerate with their skins. In the monastery’s marani (cellar), the wines can age in qvevri for many years, sometimes up to twelve years like the 2003 Rkatsiteli. The monastery has its … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #140: Shavnabada Rkatsiteli

#WineWednesday Spotlight #118: doqi Rkatsiteli Qvevri

“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

#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 #65: doqi Rkatsiteli

Drink the doqi Rkatsiteli the Georgian way! From a doqi — the traditional Georgian wine vessel — and in a clay bowl, also called piala. While Georgia has 8,000 years of unbroken winemaking, Rkatsiteli — a name made of two Georgian words, rka (“shoot”) and tsiteli (“red”), which refers to the variety’s reddish stalk — is one of the most ancient grape varieties on earth. Seeds of Rkatsiteli grapes were found in Georgia on clay vessels dated back to 3000 BC. The grapes for this wine are sourced from rocky vineyards around the village of Napareuli in Georgia’s renowned Kakheti wine district, at around 420 m (1,400 ft) above sea level. The grapes are hand-harvested and fermented in stainless steel, “Euro-style” The result is a pale yellow wine with attractive aromas of honeyed cooked apples and a creamy texture balanced with fresh acidity. A great choice for a casual aperitif with friends that will park the appetite. doqi makes also a amber-colored Rkatsiteli fermented and aged in qvevri. Try them both and serve them from a clay doqi for sure. Also don’t forget to toast the Georgian way: Gaumarjos! To your victory!

A Brief Intro to Georgian Wines and Where to Get Them

“Yes, these are the orange wines you’ve been hearing about but don’t call them that to a Georgian,” writes wine writer and editor Eileen Duffy. This Thanksgiving city dwellers might do well to consider wines from Georgia (as in the country) to accompany their turkey feast. Thanks to a recent push by Brooklynite and Master of Wine Lisa Granik, more and more retailers and sommeliers are putting the wines on their shelves and wine lists. Granik works as the market adviser for the National Wine Agency and has been bringing visitors to see the dramatic landscapes and vineyards where, many say, wine was first made around 6,000 BCE as evidenced by pips dating to that era. Georgian wines are mostly white and fermented and aged with the skin on, which results in an amber colored wine. Yes, these are the orange wines you’ve been hearing about but don’t call them that to a Georgian, or to Granik for that matter. “These are amber wines,” she says. “Not orange. First, because they’re not made from oranges and because they really are amber in color.” What makes these wines great with turkey, stuffing, roasted Brussels sprouts and even pumpkin pie? Read the … Continue reading A Brief Intro to Georgian Wines and Where to Get Them

#WineWednesday Spotlight #38: Kindzmarauli Marani Rkatsiteli

Contributed by Christine Havens, Portland-based wine writer and former winemaker who has become a Vivino featured user with over 37,000 followers largely thanks to her wine ratings. An early adopter, Ms. Havens has been sharing her reviews with fellow users since the app hit the US market in late fall 2011. She also frequently contributes articles and wine pairing recommendations to the news section of the app. Original review can be found here. From the foothills of Georgia’s Caucus Mountains, is this softly-hewn Rkatsiteli. Interestingly, this is a variety that was planted in my former estate vineyard, in a single test row. Kindzmarauli’s interpretation of this ancient, indigenous white brings back memories. Bruised pear, dried orange peel and wild prairie flowers. Full and round in the mouth, like a welcome embrace, with low acidity and rather vinous orchard fruit and dried pineapple overtones. Try the Kindzmarauli Marani Rkatsiteli yourself! You can order it here.

3 Wines from Central Europe You Need To Know Now

Bottlenotes recommends adding these three Central European wines to your repertoire. For the past decade, wines from Central and Eastern Europe have been something of a sommelier secret stateside. The names can be hard to pronounce (hárslevelű, anyone?), but the best bottles offer exceptional value and tend to work extremely well with food. Here are the three recommended wines: Samuel Tinon Furmint Birtok (Tokaj, Hungary) Sommeliers and wine insiders have been raving about furmint for years. The grape, which is commonly used to make Hungary’s famous sweet wines, also makes an intriguing dry wine with medium- to full-body and high acidity (read: an ideal wine to pair with food). Piquentum Blanc (Istria, Croatia) Croatia may have initially gained some international fame for its red wines, but many sommeliers now feel that the white Malvasia coming out of the country is some of the best representations of the grape in Europe. When made in a dry style, it makes a crisp wine with some weight in the body, similar to dry Chenin Blanc. Orgo Rkatsiteli (Kakheti, Georgia) Georgian wines can be tricky to pin down from producer to producer. Some are quite rustic and oxidative, while a growing number offer more … Continue reading 3 Wines from Central Europe You Need To Know Now

#WineWednesday Spotlight #14: Shavnabada Rkatsiteli

2003 Shavnabada Rkatsiteli from Kakheti, Georgia is one of those wines that really transports you to another place and time. Wine expert and The Vinguard founder Pamela Busch recently listed it as one of her Top Wines of 2015: An extinct volcano 2300 feet above sea level, Shavnabada is a mountain that has housed a Medieval monastery of the same name. It was restored in 1992 and the monks have been making wine on the property since 1998. Certified organic, they are old school and ferment and age the wines underground in amphora for years, 12 in the case of the Rkatsiteli. Every time I think of this winery, images of Sean Connery from In the Name of the Rose pop into my head. Amber colored, with toasted nuts, spice and dried stone fruits, one door of flavor leads to another – it’s pretty astonishing. This “astonishing” wine is made from hand harvested grapes under the strict supervision of the monks. The grapes are foot trodden in a traditional wooden press, and are not fined or filtered before being bottled by hand. The bottleneck is covered with beeswax from Shavnabada’s own bees. Interestingly enough they produce literally tons of wild … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #14: Shavnabada Rkatsiteli