New Year, New Wine Merchant, Old Wine Country - four wines from the Georgian Wine Society

Georgia (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. 

Georgia reputedly has over 500 grape varieties growing, many unique to the country. Unique grapes create unique wines with fantastic character – the most popular red grape is saperavi (sometimes compared to 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 skins.

For many 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 the opportunity to taste - and be impressed by - some Georgian wines before at trade shows, but not until recently has anyone started importing them.

This small 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 go towards helping Everychild's childcare programs in Georgia. 

These are all attractive, well-made wines that deserve to succeed.  I'm 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%.

Some further notes on other Georgian wines are available by clicking here.



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Last updated: 14 Jan 2010