Friday, September 27, 2013

Coming soon: Fine wines from Chateau Zegaani

By Eka Karsaulidze

27.09.2013. While the village of Zegaani, located in the wine-producing region of Kakheti, enjoyed the Festival of the Harvest on September 21, the Tatulashvili family hosted a group of journalists at the Chateau Zegaani estate. The Tatulashvilis presented their wines and shared an interesting story about the Chateau and their future plans.

As one of the oldest wine estates in Georgia, Chateau Zegaani was built in 1820. At that time, it belonged to Prince Alexander Chavchavadze of Georgia. His trip to France left a great impression on the Prince; while abroad he witnessed a new culture of wine creation. Upon returning home, he decided to create an estate in the form of the 19th century French Chateaux. So his contribution to the development of Georgian wine-making is immense.

A couple of years ago, the Tatulashvili family purchased Chateau Zegaani and the new owners decided to proudly continue the tradition of the Great Prince. Now the first stage of restoration work has been completed. As a result, all the doors and windows were changed in the building, basalt flooring was installed, the walls have been strengthened, the roof was replaced, and electricity, ventilation and plumbing were installed.

“Our task was to reconstruct the building in the previous style as it was known in the 19th century. During the restoration process, we were guided by the documentation that survived over the years. It should be noted that the estate was quite well preserved up until the present time,” said homesteader David Tatulashvili. “We have just completed the first stage of the re-building, and in May 2014, we will have the final opening of Chateau Zegaani.”

According to the owners, after the opening, they will continue the development of this area. It is planned to construct a restaurant, an elite wine shop and an updated tasting room.

The Kakheti region has always been famous for its wines. The unique climate, landscape and ecology provide the perfect environment for creating exclusive wines. The advantageous location of the vineyards, which are stretched over the northeastern mountain slopes, receive gentle care without the use of pesticides and herbicides.

“After the harvest, our grapes are processed immediately. We use no pesticides, only natural fertilizers. The technology is based on the soft pressure of the grapes; we do not have presses or other ‘coarse’ mechanisms,” said Tatulashvili. “We just use manual labor. And most importantly, we have returned to using old Georgian technology, which is successfully combined with classic French methods.”

The company will focus on five brands: Grand Vine Zegaani White, Grand Vine Zegaani Red, Saperavi, Mukuzani and Rkatsiteli. These wine varieties will be created by using Chateau Zegaani’s unique technology. Two varieties will use the classical Georgian system for aging where the grapes are placed in a kvevri (kvevri refers to a specific citron-shaped clay vessel, lined protectively with molten beeswax and meant to be planted in the soil to preserve wine). For this, 45 two-ton jugs- or kvevri are used in the estate basement. The remaining three wine varieties will mature in oak casks.

The wine bottles are made in Germany, the corks are a Portuguese production, and the grape processing machine is from Italy.

“We use only the best equipment in producing our wines,” Tatulashvili said, explaining that the storage process and transportation also plays a very important role in the wine’s quality. According to him, wines should strictly be kept in an environment of 13-17 C. They will be transported to different cities and countries via special vehicles that are able to maintain this temperature consistently.

Another distinguished characteristic of Chateau Zegaani wines, Tatulashvili noted, is the quality, not the quantity. According to the owners, the financial component is not important to them. The main goal is to grow quality grapes and obtain a solid harvest. This results in wine that will be very high-quality, tasty and unique. Within one year, the company is going to produce 140-160 tons of wine.

Chateau Zegaani brand products cannot be found on the local store shelves. This is because the wine should be stored in special refrigerators. Currently, the owners have reached an agreement with the various vendors throughout Tbilisi who install these special refrigerators. Information about were you can purchase the wine can be found on the company’s website in the near future by going to Chateau-Zegaani.com.

Chateau Zegaani will begin selling wines in Tbilisi in about two months. They also plan to export their wines to Japan, America and the Russian Federation. Prices will range according to various indicators. Chateau Zegaani wine is for premium segment.


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