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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Georgia in my wine

 by Jurgen Gothe

16.10.2012. Random House of Canada has opened a Vancouver food-and-drink imprint called Appetite with a new edition of wine guy James Nevison’s  Had a Glass 2013, subtitled “The Top 100 Wines Under $20”. It’s a noble challenge he’s set himself and it follows on the heels of several previous vintages, which he coauthored with long-time tasting partner Kenji Hodgson.

The above-referenced little book led me to a Georgian wine that has become a favourite on my table: Marani Mtsvane. is a specialty listed white priced at a most reasonable $11.90. I didn’t know we had any wines from Georgia in the LDB, but we have two reds as well, one at $17 and the other a Merlot, from the same producer as the Mtsvane, for $27.90. I’m going to hold off on the big-ticket Merlot for now, but I can recommend the Mtsvane wholeheartedly. Mtsvane is one of dozens of Georgian wine-grape varieties, most if not all of which are practically unknown here.

But this isn’t the first Mtsvane we’ve seen in B.C. Many vintages ago, winemaker and consultant Lynn Stark, working on an ambitious project for Brights in the Okanagan (and now consulting to many B.C. growers and wineries as Lynn Bremmer, with partner John Bremmer), made minuscule amounts of this and other Russian varietals—Rkatsiteli and Oraniensteiner among others, all based on experimental plantings from the “Becker Plots”. The project only lasted about three years—from 1983 to about 1986—and only Oraniensteiner seems to have any sort of presence in the Okanagan now. (The Martiniuk family’s Stoneboat winery makes a luscious sweet wine from the grape, called Verglas.)

The Brights project was one of the most visionary winemaking projects in B.C.’s relatively short winemaking history. When I say minuscule amounts, I mean really small: some of the wines were made in quantities as small as half a dozen bottles, all separately labelled and not found in any mainstream stores. They didn’t all work, but under Lynn’s inspired production techniques, some were outstanding. She did add an extra vowel to the name to make pronunciation easier: Matsvani. The currently available Mtsvane is a fresh wine with a nice bit of bite. It goes very well with grilled white fish and is also excellent with ripe fresh raspberries, if there are still any around, providing an interesting counterpoint for the palate. The price is as attractive as the wine itself and lends itself to experimenting with something unfamiliar. A look at the Georgian reds another time in this space.

Source (excerpt)

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