The traditional Georgian way to make wine is with a kvevri. Putting the grapes – with the skins still on – into a big clay pot and burying it in the ground. The pot is lined with beeswax to stop oxidation.

The result is a very different tasting wine from what we’re used to. Now I’m not going to pretend to be a wine expert, but I drink enough of the stuff and I know what I like. And I like Georgian wine.

Pheasants Tears didn’t offer a white, instead it has an amber wine, with a nice hint of honey. I also enjoyed their black wine. A very dark red, apparently the skins are left on the grapes until the very last minute.

Up until recently, Georgia exported its wine solely to Russia. But amid worsening relations in 2006, Russia banned all Georgian exports so wine producers were forced to explore the global market.

The traditional kvevri process came under threat as big producers adopted European methods using stainless steel and oak to give the wines a mainstream taste. A handful of organic producers have stayed the course though and as international wine drinkers get bored of the same old stuff they’ve been drinking forever, places like Pheasants Tears are slowly but surely seeing a demand for their product. So if you ever see traditional Georgian wine in New Zealand – give it a go.

Next destination after Georgia, well that’s where we hit a snag. Our plan was Central Asia but being journalists makes getting visas to some countries there very difficult. So our next stop is India, we’ll explain why in the next blog.

By Charlotte Whale

Advertisements