Report from the Real Wine Fair and RAW Fair | Marani

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Given that Quevri are present in 25 different growing regions of Georgia, we also learnt how these Quevri are used differently in the different regions of Georgia. For example, in the more Westerly region of Imereti, where temperatures tend to be cooler, the grapes are placed in the Quevri with minor skin contact, and no grape stems, leading to brighter, fruitier wines. Because of the cooler temperatures in Imereti, the stems would produce a wine that was simply too tart and “green.” In Kartli, further east, there is fuller skin contact, with the wine being left on the skins for up to 6 months, and some of the grape stems may also be placed in the Quevri, to increase the tannins in the wine (white as well as red). In Kakheti, Georgia’s most Easterly and hottest region, responsible for the vast majority of Georgia’s wine production, whole grape bunches, including stems, are put in the Quevri for up to 6 months.

Not only were we seeing evidence of more emphasis on Georgia’s more traditional styles of wine, there was also an exciting range of grapes on display. Up to this point we have been saying that around 30 of Georgia’s grape varieties are in commercial production, but having visited these two fairs we suspect that this number will need to be revised substantially upwards. In fact, at a recent wine fair in Georgia (which included non commercial as well as commercially produced wines) 150 grape varieties were on display. The days of homogenised wine production in Georgia seem to be far behind us.

New Grapes/Wines

Some of these new grape arrivals fill in gaps in the Georgian wine offering. For example, the red grapes Takveri and Shavkapito produce lighter bodied (though still very tannic) red wines, that provide a nice counterpoint to the heavier wines typically produced by Georgia’s predominant red grape, Saperavi. Shavkapito, incidentally, was the grape of choice for the Kakhetian kings. The two wines we sampled were both from the 2011 vintage, so still very young, and we were told that they would mellow considerably in the next 12 months. One of the apparent side effects of the Quevri production method is to produce a more mature tasting wine more quickly – possibly as a result of micro oxidation in the Quevri. Both wines would continue to mature in the bottle for the next 4-5 years.

The Georgian white grape rkatsiteli is widely regarded as the grape that benefits most from the Quevri production method, and there were numerous examples on display. The 2010 Rkasitelis from both Pheasant’s Tears and the Antadze Winery were extremely good, a deep amber colour, with powerful aromas and huge amounts of flavour (fruit peel, apricots etc) – to the extent that they might be termed “an acquired taste.” The 2008 Rkatsiteli from Pheasant’s Tears showed how the wine would mellow with time, with the fruit becoming less obvious. The 2010 and 2011 Rkatsitelis from the Twin’s Wine Cellar in Napareuli were also very good (the 2010 vintage was winner of the first place in a recent national wine competition in Georgia)

This was also our first taste of a wine produced entirely from the Chinuri grape. Our only previous contact with this light skinned and floral grape was in sparkling wine blends. Due to its temperamental nature, and the fact that it enjoys growing in windy, rocky environments, it was almost abandoned during Soviet times. Iago Bitarishvili has produced two different versions, one with skin contact and one without – we preferred the one without skin contact: soft in the mouth, then more peppery at the end, with honey, peach and walnut flavours. Other Georgian grapes that should soon be available to the UK wine buyer include the white grapes tsitska, kisi, and khikvi.

A particular revelation were the wines from the Alaverdi Monastery, which has been producing wines (including for several royal families, including the Russian Tsars) since 1011. Just stop and think about that for a moment. Over 1000 years of wine production and refinement. Presented by one of the monks (in full monk’s robes, no less), no wonder their whole range of wines was impressive, in particular their Kisi 2011 and Khikhvi 2011. Given the traditions behind the winery and the quality of their wines we will be looking to add these to our wine list shortly.

When we had finished tasting the Georgian wines, we were surprised to see another stand dedicated to Quevri wines. On close inspection is turned out that these wines were not Georgian, but from Italy and Switzerland. Having tasted a cross section of them, in the majority of cases it was difficult to see what the addition of the Quevri was really meant to achieve – often it just produced a slightly confused tasting wine, where the impact of the quevri often seemed to be working against the rest of the wine. For the most part it seemed to be something of a marketing gimmick, which was a little bit worrying. For a country that is so early on in marketing its wine tradition to the world, Georgia will have to be careful that its most treasured techniques don’t become swallowed up in a load of marketing waffle from other countries.

via Report from the Real Wine Fair and RAW Fair | Marani.

Georgian flagship wine | Marani

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I have great confidence in Saperavi, the mostly planted red grape variety in Georgia, in leading Georgian wine to the international market.A dark-skinned variety, Saperavi has pink flesh that gives a deep colour to the wine. Its high tannin and acidity provide the backbone for a wine with long ageing capability. It has black fruits and spicy characters rather like a combination of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. With age, it develops a tertiary bouquet of chocolate, walnut and dried fruits. It is versatile and can be made in different styles: concentrated and tannic using the traditional kvevri method; easy drinking and fruity wine using stainless steel fermentation and minimum tannin extraction; or more elegant and structured wine combining the kvevri method and ageing in oak barrels. It can be dry as in Saperavi or Mukuzani, or semi sweet as in Kindzmarauli.

via Georgian flagship wine | Marani.

kvevri — Food Stories

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They get these massive clay pots called qvevri, and they bury them in the ground. Then they whack everything juice, skins, stems in there, seal it up with clay and let it all separate out. The wine is then drawn off the top very carefully using a special jug on a stick. They use a really old grape variety called Rkatsiteli which comes out freakin’ orange! Then there’s another one, which is red and called Saperavi. They’re both native to Georgia. The first time I tasted the orange wine, I was quite taken aback; that stuff is just totally unlike any wine I’ve ever tasted; kinda funky but, you know what? I got into it. By the end of that trip I think we were all a bit Georgian.

via kvevri — Food Stories.

7,000 Years of Wine Culture in Georgia Part 1 « Good Food Revolution

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We tasted some amazing and completely unique wines, including “orange wine”: white wines that are left to macerate and ferment for a year in qvevri on there skins, giving them in Zoltan’s words, “the structure of a Barolo in a white wine!” And we tasted many qvevri reds, mostly Saperavi. Sapervi may be loosely translated as “dye”, and the wines are deep, deep red with major tannic structure.The uniquely Georgian verietal is one of the few redgrapes whose flesh is as crimson as its skin cork dorks will want to know that the technical term for this is “teinturer”. As a result, traditional Georgian viniculture uses no wood. There is no need: the grapes provide more than ample tannic structure. Modern wineries ferment and age in stainless steel. And the traditional vintners use the alkaline property of the pottery in the qvevri to ferment and age, which seems to instantly mellow the astringency.

via 7,000 Years of Wine Culture in Georgia Part 1 « Good Food Revolution.

KAKHETI, CORE OF THE GEORGIAN WINE INDUSTRY 1 | Christian CALLEC

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KAKHETI TRADITIONAL WINESThe traditional winemaking in Kakheti is very old and unique. It has been inspiring many wine countries Spain = tinajas, Italy = amfora, Slovenia, Croatia and even Austria, thanks to Bernard Ott but none of those can claim the same authentic and historical roots. The use of K’VEVRI also called churi in Imereti to produce wine is maybe one of the most archaic vinification techniques.

via KAKHETI, CORE OF THE GEORGIAN WINE INDUSTRY 1 | Christian CALLEC.

New York Cork Report: Saperavi, the Great Red Grape of the Finger Lakes? Open Minds at Standing Stone Vineyards

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Saperavi, the Great Red Grape of the Finger Lakes? Open Minds at Standing Stone Vineyards

via New York Cork Report: Saperavi, the Great Red Grape of the Finger Lakes? Open Minds at Standing Stone Vineyards.

Liquid assets: Georgian wine from vine to table | StarTribune.com

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Saperavi is Georgia’s most widely grown wine grape and it enjoys the most popularity in Western markets of any native Georgian variety. The juice of these fruits also runs purple — not clear, like most grapes — and produces a wine so dark the Georgians call it “black wine.”

via Liquid assets: Georgian wine from vine to table | StarTribune.com.

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