Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Rising popularity of Georgian wines in Malaysia

by Vincent Tan

08.03.2016. Georgian wines occupy a nice, half-way niche between easier-drinking New World wines and the complex tannins and terroir of Old World stuff, in this writer’s opinion.

Yet, it’s only since the third quarter of last year that Georgian wines from the Caucasus have entered our market, thanks to efforts by Eurasia Trading and assistance from the Georgian Embassy.

During a recent tasting session held at 1 Mont Kiara’s The Barn, currently the only place in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) marketing Georgian wines, guests were invited to sample and in a blind-tasting “game”, match five different wines imported by Eurasia Trading.

Although Georgia has nearly 400 grape varietals, only about 10% of these are commercially grown for winemaking.

Guests first tried out the Rose Semi-Dry, a blend of Saperavi, Mtsvane and Muscat varietals, giving the wine a flowery nose and light body, and leaving the impression of flowers on the palate.

This was followed by the Alazani Valley Red Semi-Sweet, also blended with Saperavi, Aleksandrouli and Ojaleshi for a stronger aroma of dark chocolate and medium body of soft tannins and acidity.

While the Alazani Red tastes of berries, the red Moscato which followed, made from 100% Kakhetian Muscat, gives off more tannins on the tongue, with the flavour of currants or raisins on the palate instead.

Suitable for a cheese platter, the Alazani Valley White Semi-Sweet, blended from Rkatsiteli and Tsolikouri grapes, is a light-bodied wine, with the taste of dried fruits on the tongue after the initial sweetness.

To round out the evening, guests were treated to the 100% Saperavi-grape Kindzmarauli, also a semi-sweet red.

Surprisingly, this last wine, with its medium body and mild acidity, has almost no taste of tannins and instead, one gets a refreshing palate of blackberries and currants.

Recounting her experiences sipping on semi-sweet wine, Elya Tleuzhanova, who emigrated to Kuala Lumpur from Kazakhstan six years back and soon married local boy Stanley Chee, said, “During one of our trips to my home country, we brought back two bottles of my favourite Georgian wine, which was not available in Malaysia then.”

The couple then introduced some of their friends to the semi-sweet wines from the region and these were an immediate hit.

Still, it took six months of market research and discussion with the embassy and suppliers in Georgia, before the company got rolling and the first cases of wine were imported to Kuala Lumpur.


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