Georgia, Georgia, Georgia
Free tasting | Friday, December 7, 2018 | 5-7PM
Imagine having wine being so ingrained in your culture and history that when asked, you can’t even recall how long your family has been growing wine. That is the reality for many Georgians whose wineries, still mostly family run, have been making wine for literally thousands of years. Currently archaeological evidence dates Georgian winemaking back 8,000 years!
Synonymous with Georgian culture are qvevri (egg-shaped containers that vary between 500-2000 liters) that are filled with grape stems and skins, sealed with a stone lid, and buried underground to age. It takes an average of 3 months to make a 2000 liter qvevri (also spelled kvevri) and a whole day to clean after being used! In 2014, UNESCO officially recognized the significance of ancient Georgian winemaking with qvevri by putting it on the Intangible Cultural List (this list is fascinating, I highly recommend taking a peak).
Georgia, a tiny country that is surrounded by the Black Sea to the West, Russia to the North, and Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan to the South, has had a tumultuous history. Throughout the centuries everyone from the Assyrians, Romans, Byzantines, to most recently, the Soviet Union, has had their hold on Georgia. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Georgia has been able to focus on their indigenous winegrowing practices. When drinking Georgian wine you’ll taste grapes like Saperavi, Rkatsiteli, and Mtsvane, which are as uniquely delicious as their melodious names. These wines range from tannic to silky to herbaceous to caramelized fruity.
This is an exciting time for Georgian wine! It is beginning to get the attention it deserves in the modern age; recently, Eastern Standard in Boston listed their first Georgian wine on the menu and you can find many delicious ones at wine bars in Boston like Haley Henry and Nathálie. If you’re itching to learn more, check out Alice Feiring’s book, For the Love of Wine for a fascinating read. And, of course, buy your Georgian wine at The Cheese Shop of Salem! Kosta, who was born and raised in Georgia and now imports Georgian wine in NY and MA, is joining us at the shop tomorrow and opening the below wines from the Kakheti region of Georgia. Come learn, taste, nerd out, and drink. Gaumarjos! გაუმარჯოს!
2016 Bruale, Rkatsiteli-Mtsvane (Kakheti, Georgia) | This tannic treat with spicy kumquats notes is an adventure in itself! This was fermented in a qvevri and then keep on its skins for 6 months.
2016 Bruale Saperavi (Kakheti, Georgia) | Saperavi means ‘color/dye’ and is the most planted grape variety in Georgia. Bruale’s Saperavi has a myriad of characterisitcs including smoked meat, tobacco, pepper, licorice, and dark chocolate.
2015 KTW Saperavi (Kakheti, Georgia) | This qvevri red wine is made from the Saperavi grape variety and is cultivated in the village of Velistskihe in Eastern Kakheti. Complex deep purple color, with aromas of ripe fruit. Cherry and plum on the palette with balanced tannins and pleasant astringency. Slightly earthy and pairs perfectly with steak, lamb and gamey meats.
2015 Tbilvino Qvevris Kisi (Kakheti, Georgia) | An ‘amber’ wine that smells like fresh guavas and has a honeyed, nutty, long finish. The darker color is determined by extended skin contact on the wine’s juice. Tbilvino is based in east Georgia’s Kakheti, the country’s most important wine region. Tbilvino was established in a post-communist world and sold their first vintage to the public in 1999. Tbilvino is owned by brothers Zura and Giorgi Margvelashvili, and production is on the larger scale at around 4 million bottles annually. Tbilvino is sold mostly to Russia, other ex-Soviet countries, and China, and now we’re lucky to have it here in the Massachusetts market!