Saturday, January 18, 2020

Japan Airlines First Class Lounge starts serving Georgian wine to passengers

18.01.2020 (Hvino News) For the first time, a Georgian wine has appeared in the menu of Japan Airlines First Class Lounge. A premium qvevri white wine Shalauri Cellars Rkatsiteli 2018 was selected by Japan Airlines for its prestigious wine list offered to first class passengers.

Georgian Shalauri wine displayed at JAL First Class Lounge at Narita airport, Japan
Shalauri Rkatsiteli is produced in village Shalauri in Kakheti. Previously, the wine achieved high ratings: 89 points from Wine Enthusiast, and 88 points from Wine & Spirits Magazine.

"Orange wine ... Georgia wine. Unusual wine aged for a certain period of time in the soil ... rich in minerals ... A little jasmine tea aroma and taste. There are so many worlds we don't know yet ... I'm happy!" - commented a JAL passenger in his Instagram.

JAL First Class passengers enjoy specially selected wines from around the world, which are brought onboard by famous wine expert Kenichi Ohashi MW, and Motohiro Okoshi, a former sommelier who later became Japan’s first wine taster.

Kenichi Ohashi, who is the only Master of Wine in Japan, has been actively involved in popularization of Georgian wines in Japan. Mr. Ohashi's company Red Bridge is a contractor of  National Wine Agency of Georgia. Red Bridge has been carrying out marketing activities on Georgian wine in Japan since 2017, in which Mr. Okoshi also participated.

Shalauri Rkatsiteli is also available online through JAL's online shop, as part of "Wine Course to Enjoy the World of wine", see photo on the right.

"Light-apricot in color, this wine offers a bouquet of Fuji apple and orange peel. It has flavors of clementine, orange, hazelnut, leather and smoke. Strong tannins are counterbalanced by bold acidity, and a finish marked by clementine and orange rind flavors leaves a pleasing tannic halo on the tongue and gums", - reads Wine Enthusiast's tasting notes on Shalauri Rkatsiteli by Mike Desimone.

In an exclusive comment to Hvino News, Kenichi Ohashi outlined the details of wine selection for JAL, and stressed the role played by former Ambassador of Georgia to Japan: "Of course, I am one of wine consultants of Japan Airlines (JAL). But this approach that we pushed Georgian wines to JAL has been started by ex-Ambassador of Georgia to Japan Dr. Levan Tsintsadze. The Ambassador enthusiastically introduced quality Georgian wines to JAL. Then, I strongly supported to push them to try quality Georgian wines at JAL."

"Premium guests of JAL love this amber wine. I am so happy to receive such a fruitful result, and I continuously promote Georgian wines in our market."

Kenichi OHASHI, Master of Wine

Shalauri Rkatsiteli was selected from a choice of Georgian wines. "We carefully tasted several candidate wines that several importers suggested to us. Finally, JAL agreed with high quality level of Georgian wines, and accepted historical Georgian amber wine for JAL First Class Lounge. In addition to this, I suggested to use a supportive explanation sheet of Georgian wines, standing up beside actual selected wine", - explained the Japanese wine expert.

"At present, this selected Georgian wine has been consumed very very fluently!", - stressed Mr. Ohashi, - "That means that premium guests of JAL mostly love this amber wine. I am so happy to receive such a fruitful result, and of course, I continuously promote Georgian wines in our market."

Shalauri Wine Cellars commented to Hvino News: “We are very excited and encouraged by the fact that Shalauri Cellars Rkatsiteli 2018 qvevri wine was selected by Japan Airlines for its prestigious wine list offered to first class passengers. The end of the year 2019 was quite uplifting to our small winery with annual production of no more than 20 thousand bottles of traditional qvevri wine. In December Wine Enthusiast magazine rated Shalauri Cellars Mtsvane 2015 qvevri wine with 92 points and Shalauri Cellars Saperavi 2017 won Gold Medal at the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirit Competition 2019. Saperavi 2017 also won Trophy at the Hong Kong competition as Best Wine from Georgia. We consider these developments as recognition of increasing interest and appreciation of Georgian wine and particularly traditional Georgian qvevri wine in the world.”

For reference, here are some other white wines from JAL's First Class menu:
  • Chablis Grand Cru Bougros Domaine William Fèvre 2016
  • Schiefer Riesling 2017
  • Single Vineyard “HVD” Hunter Semillon 2013
  • Aruga Branca Issehara 2016

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