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Three Georgian Wines


chromedome
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Okay, disclaimer...I'm just starting to educate myself about wines (career change/cooking school) so I haven't got the vocab down pat, yet. Bear with me.

My wife and I went to the Rocky Mountain Wine & Food fest here in Edmonton back before Christmas. We had a lot of fun and tasted lots of different things, and were pleasantly surprised by three Georgian wines that we encountered. The Georgians proudly lay claim to being the original winemakers (oldest archaeological evidence of oeniculture backs them up); and while some vineyards have planted the usual Western varietals in recent years, the indigenous grapes are still in production.

In the couple of months since the show I've made a point of getting a couple of bottles of each of these wines, since it's hard to do justice to anything in the trade-show context. Here are my thoughts:

Dry White: Chrebalo

The Chrebalo vineyards were established in the 1870's, died under the Bolsheviks, and restored to active winemaking in 2000. This wine is made from indigenous Rachuli Tetra and Tsitska grapes. It is a pale gold in colour, with a crisp and only moderately fruity aroma. This is not a featherweight wine for sunshine and salads! Lots of tannins, lots of strength, not as fruity as most New World whites I've tried. Lean and sinewy. Comes across almost as a red wine in drag.

Dry Red: Alexandrouli

I had an unusual first reaction to this one. It made me think of the sea! The Alexandrouli grape is another indigenous varietal, with a light ruby colour. My wife picked out lots of light herbal and floral notes, while my outstanding impression was of a pleasant and unusual astringency (the reason I thought of salt ocean breezes, no doubt). The rep told us that this is indicative of the terroir; the prevailing winds are from the Black Sea, and herbs and violets are grown commercially in the surrounding area. Not a big, bold red; but certainly backbone and structure enough to be interesting.

Semi-Sweet Red: Kvanchkhara

I really like this one. It's a shame that semi-sweet wine is awkward to market; sweeter than an off-dry, but not really sweet enough for a dessert wine.

Kvanchkhara is easy to spot, as it comes in a terra-cotta bottle (okay, there's glass too, but I think the terra-cotta is a pretty cool marketing gimmick). The grapes are Mujuretuli and Alexandrouli; given the nature of the dry Alexandrouli I'll assume that the Mujuretuli provides the substance here. This wine is very powerful and complex. There is a lot of fruit; my immediate impression was of black cherries and plums but many other things (currants, maybe even a bit of good cigar tobacco) came and went as I worked my way through the bottle. Although the sweetness is front and centre it doesn't dominate, there is more than enough acidity and tannin to give it structure. Altogether this is a lush, powerful wine with lots to recommend it.

Think of it as a mature, voluptuous woman as opposed to the tanned young hardbodies of Australia and California.

All three of these wines are produced by Rachuli Wino Ltd, winemaker O. Chelidze.

“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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Thank you chromedome for an interesting and constructive posting! I hope you will continue.

We ... were pleasantly surprised by three Georgian wines that we encountered.  The Georgians proudly lay claim to being the original winemakers (oldest archaeological evidence of oeniculture backs them up); and while some vineyards have planted the usual Western varietals in recent years, the indigenous grapes are still in production.

Some ancient wine-producing regions have seen their ups and downs. (To give an example that is comparatively modern, Bulgaria was an old wine-loving country that, during Ottoman domination, experienced a Prohibition for nearly 500 years, 1396 to 1878. In contrast the US experiment 1919-1933 was a dabble.)

It sounded as if you might be in Canada, chromedome, but wherever you are, could you say more about what firm imported these wines from the Transcaucasian republic of Georgia?

-- Max

N.B.: A dozen years ago in the US I was introduced to a young couple "from Georgia." So I asked politely, "Georgia as in Jimmy Carter, or as in Shalikashvilli?" (Then or a little earlier, a high US official had been an immigrant from the former Soviet Republic of Georgia.) "Shalikashvilli!," they responded with pride.

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The importer is Georgia Enterprises Ltd (Canada). I don't know what restrictions there may be on shipping into the US, but you could correspond with them at

kartvelly@shaw.ca

I know that the Khvanchkara (note corrected spelling :hmmm: , I was even looking at the damn' bottle when I posted) is sold in the UK by this company. They specialize in wines from the former East-bloc, apparently, and have several other Georgian wines that I'm not familiar with.

I have a predisposition to support producers who, rather than bring out the world's 257,000th mediocre Chardonnay or Merlot, are working to haul their own indigenous varietals into the world of modern wine-making. I think that in the long term, this is the future of the industry; making the best wine you can, out of the grapes that grow best where you are. Who knew what Malbec could be, for example, until the Argentinians started *really* working on it?

Given the potentially disastrous situation with climate change, even the French may be hopping onto that bandwagon soon.

Here in Canada, of course, wineries have long made use of niche hybrids like Baco Noir, Marechal Foch, and New York Muscat. These are not really indigenous grapes, but they represent the principle of "the grapes that grow best." In my home province of Nova Scotia, some rather drinkable wine is being made from Russian varietals. Go figure.

“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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I envy those more fortunate than I.

My encounter with the Georgian iwnes left very poor impression. Lack of supervision resulting in changing qualities that were too difficult for me to follow.

Here are some wines I have tasted recently:

Saperavi, Mukuzani ACT

Deep red cherry color.

Soft, fruity and well- balanced nose with some sweet vanilla and mild tobacco finish

Soft on the entry yet with apparent VA and unpleasant acidity that is probably due to hot fermentation.

A sharp and green finish.

Supris Gvuno no. 3

Red cherry towards red garnet color.

Soft round sweet cherry nose with mild raspberries and sweet lactic finish.

Sweet on the entry with little complexity with some green flavors.

A cheap sweet wine fortified with sugar. Too much cherry flavor to be true.

Saperavi ACT

Dark red deep color

Mild fruity nose with some raisins fairly one dimensional and very simple.

Soft on the entry with sharp acidity well balanced with a mildly sour finish.

Alaznis Veli Semi-sweet

Sweet syrupy nose concentrated but not complex.

Late harvest flavors with a sharp acidity yet one dimensional, fairly simple and heady.

There is no doubt in my mind that there is a very good potential for grape varieties such as Saperavi either from Georgia or Northern Turkey.

Andre Suidan

I was taught to finish what I order.

Life taught me to order what I enjoy.

The art of living taught me to take my time and enjoy.

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