New Year, New
Wine Merchant, Old Wine Country - four wines from the Georgian Wine
(the eastern European country, not the American state) is probably one
of the first areas where wine was produced. Archaeological
remains suggest that as early as
4000 BCE grape juice was being placed in underground clay jars, or
‘Kvevri’, to ferment during the winter, a method of
production which still continues, and has recently been adopted in
Friuli in north eastern Italy by producers such as Josko Gravner, who
indeed sources his clay jars from Georgia.
reputedly has over 500 grape varieties growing, many unique to
country. Unique grapes create unique wines with fantastic character
– the most popular red grape is saperavi (sometimes compared
Syrah or Tempranillo, but in my experience not quite like either or
even both), and the most popular white grape is the rkatsiteli.
Saperavi is unusual in that it actually has a red
juice - most red wines get all their colour from the pigments in the
years, the bulk of Georgia's wine production was swallowed up by
Russia, but there are now significant tensions between Russia and its
former vassal, and Russia has banned imports of Georgian wine since
2006. This has meant that Georgian wine producers have had to
seek markets elsewhere, increasingly looking west. I've had
opportunity to taste - and be impressed by - some Georgian wines before
at trade shows, but not until recently has anyone started importing
selection comes from a new kid on the internet block, the seemingly
inappropriately named Georgian Wine Society. Georgian and wine are
clearly right, but I don't see where the society bit comes in. It's
just another wine merchant. But the important thing is that there's now
an additional source of some rather good Georgian wines.
And 10% of all The Georgian Wine Society's profits
towards helping Everychild's
childcare programs in Georgia.
are all attractive, well-made wines that deserve to succeed.
particularly impressed that alcohol levels are kept well in check: for
such big, tasty flavours, you'd normally be looking at alcohol levels
over 13% and as high as 15%.
2005 Teliani Valley Tsolikauri,
The only white of this selection. Very
pale lemon straw colour. Immediately creamy on the nose, but it also
feels very "pretty" with some peach and nectarine fruit, plus a hint of
satsuma and a parmesan-like savouriness.
As you draw it into your
mouth, it feels quite rich and creamy, but there's a lemony-citrus
freshness of fruit there too, along with a just-noticeable touch of
acidity, that balances the weight wonderfully. There's a nice savoury
edge to this too which should make it good and food-friendly. 91/100
2004 Orovela Saperavi, 12.5%
Apparently, orovela are traditional Georgian ploughing songs.
bottles of this saperavi were produced, and bottled in what is probably
the heaviest bottle that I've ever come across. I weighed it: 1.025kg empty!
black fruits - mulberries and damsons - dominate the nose. This is a
big, luscious, mouthfilling red with a notable tannic structure that
seems to be more from the oak than the grape. Yet it's also very clean
and fresh. Very Good Indeed. 92/100
2005 Teliani Valley Saperavi Napareuli,
This is made from saperavi grapes grown in the Napareuli district of
has quite a deep colour with just a hint of youth at the rim. On the
nose, there's bright, slightly gamey red fruit with dried herbs.
Initially, it's very soft and inviting, with lots of subtle fruit to
the fore. That's followed up by lots of interesting character. There's
a nutty, sour cherry and cherry stone flavour with some hints of
nebbiolo. This has a nice balance of easy drinkability and interest.
Very good length. 88/100
2005 Telavi Wine Cellar Marani Khvanchkara,
is a blend of aleksandrouli and mujuretuli grapes, and the back label
further explains that this is a "Georgian medium sweet red wine." Ah!
... I should have read that before opening it, which might have meant
it was less of a surprise. Reputedly Stalin's favourite wine, though
I'm not sure that association with one of the world's most notorious
dictators is exactly a great marketing strategy.
On the nose there's
soft cherry and strawberry fruit with a floral lift. There's light,
sweetish fruit initially on the palate. There's some definite sweetness
in this, but it's actually quite reasonably balanced. It's not
over-complex by any means, but it is a pleasant drink. I just found
myself a bit taken aback to find it was a medium sweet red. Think of a
Beaujolais with a bit of residual sugar.
Like many sweetish whites,
it makes a good aperitif. It also works really well with cheese: it was
remarkably versatile with cheese, complementing a range of cheese from
Sykes Fell (a ewes' milk Lancashire) to Comté to Stichelton.
further notes on other Georgian wines are available by clicking here.