Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Frank ROEDER, Master of Wine: "You will get many friends"

special guest
27.04.2016 (Hvino News). In March 2016 the UK-based Institute of Masters of Wine sent its delegation to Georgia.  The first “Masters of Wine Trip to Georgia”, organized in cooperation with Georgian Wine Association, was a highly professional event, which envisaged retrospective tastings of indigenous grape varieties as well as microvinifications of high-quality rare Georgian varieties. Hvino News has interviewed the participants of “Masters of Wine Trip to Georgia”. Read the first three interviews herehere, and here.

Today we publish the final fourth interview from this series, wishing to thank the Institute of Masters of Wine for invaluable support. Our guest is Frank ROEDER, Master of Wine, who kindly agreed to share impressions about trip to Georgia.

Hvino News: Please tell us about yourself. How a person becomes a Master of Wine? What made you enter into the world of wine?

Frank Roeder:  In 1990 I founded my own wine trading company VIF, which was initially focused only on French and Italian wines. With the upcoming success we expanded the portfolio also to wines from Germany, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Luxembourg and overseas. I was always interested in knowledge about wine and wanted to know more than just reading books and visiting producers. That’s why I started to study the WSET Diploma and as a consequence to become a Master of Wine.

How the idea of this MT trip to Georgia came into being? Why you became interested in it? Have you been to Georgia before?      
I have never been in Georgia before. But as Georgia is being known as the cradle of wine I immediately applied to take part in this trip. Not only because of the history but also because the qvevri winemaking is very much linked to the actual “nature wines” and “orange wines” hype.

From professional standpoint, was your visit to Georgia a valuable experience? If yes, can you highlight the most interesting moments?  

It was a very exciting and valuable experience. Now I understand much better the differences between the wine styles of Georgia, the interesting indigenous grape varieties, the implementation of wine into the nations soul. Therefore all visits have been a memorable experience.

How can you characterize the current place of Georgia among the world’s wine producers?  Did you change your perception of Georgian wine?

Indeed! I did not have much experience with wines from Georgia, but now I have a clear picture of the strengths of the country's wine.

What are the biggest obstacles, which lie in the way of a wider international expansion of Georgian wines? What are the next stages, which you envisage for the Georgian wines’ development on international scene?  

You already have undertaken a considerable amount of excellent work to promote the quality wines of Georgia. For most Europeans it is difficult to pronounce the grape varieties. Thus I think you should focus in communication initially to some icon grape varieties such as Saperavi and Rkatsiteli. Using a lot of other difficult names will confuse most consumers.

You must have a wide experience with other countries and national wine industries. Can you think of important lessons, which may be useful for Georgia? Are there any mistakes, which you are observing, or which you may warn against in the future?  

I think the history of Austrian is a good example, how to increase the image of your country's wines. Laying down after the wine scandal in the 80-s Austria developed one of the most restrictive wine laws in the world. This is one key for success. But look at the communication they provide with their general body, the Austrian wine marketing board. They speak just one common language, with all producers working together. In contrast, German wine marketing is so diffuse because too many voices, too many different interests.

Let’s talk about the wines per se. If you have personal likes or dislikes about any specific Georgian wines, we will be interested to know. 

First of all I was impressed by the number of autochtonous grape varieties. Some I consider as a precious contribution to the wine world. Second, qvevri winemaking was of great interest. But most wines made in the traditional way by just letting the most together with the chacha in the vessels brings out too hard tannins. Modern wine making by using qvevris and limiting the time in the vessels and reducing the amount of chacha is more promising with subsequent maturation in wood.

We sincerely hope that you had a chance to get familiar with some cultural treasures of Georgia. “Technical tastings and visits will be complemented with relevant elements of Georgian history and culture” – reads the short announcement about your trip. How was the aspect implemented? 

I was very much impressed how deep wine culture is linked to the national culture. Much deeper than in most wine producing countries. It was also a great experience to encounter your hospitality, the way of cooking and eating, the open communication…

If you wish to send a personal message to the professional readership of Hvino News, the floor is yours!

Continue on your way to tell the world the story and the background of Georgian wine culture. You will get many friends, and they will be the best ambassadors.

Thank you very much, Mr. Roeder, for taking time to answer our questions.

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