“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
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!
In an attempt to spread our Georgian wings, we have added appellations, producers and styles. Bold, different wines of personality, tradition and irreverence that tease and challenge the palate in the best ways. First up is the tea and tobacco scented Bibineishvili Chkhaveri (impossible to pronounce) from Adjara in the south west, 5 miles from both Turkey’s northern border and the Black Sea. A numerically slight wine at 10.5% and dry, but it is compact, detailed and finely structured. From the West where sometimes wine is made without skin contact, we have procured some lip smackingly snappy tsolikouri and a tsitska/tsolikouri blend from the Wine Thieves. Rather than stealing, this band of Georgian wine lovers and friends turned negociants are nurturing mevenakhe (vignerons) that make their best possible wines and market them under a common brand. North of Imereti, from the mountainous wine region of Racha-Lechkhumi, cousins Paata and Shorena Pataridze are re-realizing their families historic role as winemakers. We imported half of the mere 350 bottles produced in 2016. The wine is mind-bogglingly smooth with delicate notes of forest fern, honey and the reddest of fruits. The 11g/l of residual sugar left after the fermentation naturally stopped, makes it … Continue reading New Georgia