Friday, January 25, 2013

"South China Morning Post" on Georgian wine: Where there's a swill, there's a way

by Sarah Wong

25.01.2013. In 2010, Georgia's then president Mikhail Saakashvili made a joke thanking Russian leader Vladimir Putin for helping the country improve the quality of its wines by imposing an embargo on them, but there was more than a kernel of truth in the quip.

Four years earlier Russia had banned imports of Georgian wines, claiming that most did not meet its sanitary standards, and that heavy metals and pesticides had been detected in some samples. The ban came at a time of worsening political relations between the neighbours and Georgia denied the claims.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

7 Georgian wine-growers in Paris

24.01.2013 (Hvino News) On Monday January 28th, tasting of  wine produced by 7 Georgian wine-growers will be held in Paris at Restaurant Le Chateaubriand (129, avenue Parmentier, 75011 Paris), at 10h-18h.  At the initiative of Thierry Puzelat and Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme, "an exciting and amazing tasting of wines from indigenous grape varieties, and  fermented in amphora" will be offered.

Among the Georgian wine-growers there are Pheasant's Tears, Iago's Wine, Chemi Ghvino, Antadze Winery, Nikoladzeebis Marani, Gaioz Sopromadze's Marani. À ne manquer sous aucun prétexte! (not to be missed!), - add the event's organizers.

© Hvino News

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

National Wine Agency's Levan Davitashvili talks on export to Russia

23.01.2013 (Hvino News) The Georgian side is ready to discuss wine quality, says Levan Davitashvili, Chairman of the National Wine Agency, in the interview to Georgian radio Palitra. 

According to Davitashvili, Russian side declared that participation of state structures was necessary, and contacts with business structures only was not sufficient. “We know that there is no political barrier, only technical issues remain”, Levan Davitashvili said, adding that the National Wine Agency is responsible for the quality.

When asked about his expectation from the negotiations with Russia, Davitashvili said that considering the statements of the Russian side, Georgia concludes that a quality control system should be provided to them so that they are aware of it. “According to their statements, the next stage may be the Russian experts’ visit. After this, we expect positive reports, as we meet the strictest demands”, Davitashvili said.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

It's official: Borjomi confirms sale of shares to Russian group

22.01.2013 (Hvino News). "IDS Borjomi” officially confirms the sale of the company’s shares according to agreement between Borjomi and Russia's "Alfa Group", signed late last year. Borjomi informs that the company's shares have been taken under the management of the new owner. However, according to Georgian radio Commersant, Borjomi does not talk about the number of shares and the selling price. Rumor about possible selling of Borjomi's shares repeatedly circulated last year.

Established in 1989, Alfa Group is one of the largest investment holdings in Russia. The group was founded in 1989 by Mikhail Fridman.  As a holding company, in the financial year 2010 Alfa Group had total assets of US$ 59,900 million, total equity of US$ 21,790 million. Its headquarters are in Moscow.

© Hvino News

Georgian delegation to meet with Russian side on January 28

RIA Novosti. Sergei Yolkin
22.01.2013 (Hvino News). Georgian delegation plans to travel to Moscow to meet with Russian side on January 28.

Earlier Gennady Onishchenko, Russia's chief public health official and head of consumer protection agency  Rospotrebnadzor suggested to meet with Georgian delegation either on January 28 or February 4.

According to information from Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia, the delegation will be headed by Vakhtang Abashidze, prime minister's special envoy on relations with Russia. The delegation will also include six representatives of Ministry of Agriculture and Georgian Wine Agency.

As the Minister of Agriculture of Georgia David Kirvalidze said, the question of export of Georgian wine and mineral water to Russia has been resolved on political level, and only the "technical issues" remain.

Russia's Onishchenko voiced dates of meeting with Georgian delegation

22.01.2013 (Hvino News). Gennady Onishchenko, Russia's chief public health official and head of consumer protection agency  Rospotrebnadzor has voiced the possible date of the meetings with Georgian delegation, which will discuss the return of Georgian wine and mineral products to the Russian market. Genady Onishchenko told RIA Novosti news agency that the meetings would take place by the end of January or in the first days of February 2013. He said that via personal contacts he has received the list of the Georgian delegation and is prepared to host them on January 28 or February 4.

Onishchenko said the readiness of the Georgian side to participate in these negotiations indicated to serious plans of the country's government in relations with Russia.

© Hvino News

Sunday, January 20, 2013

It is time for Bagrationi's sparkling wine

20.01.2013. Georgia, one of the oldest producing wine regions in the world, produces a great diversity of wines, including sparkling wines. You may know that Georgia is well known for its qvevri wines. You may also know of Sarajishvili Winery's famous brandies. But, did you know that Georgia's Bagrationi Wines has been producing sparkling wines since 1882. The best known of Georgian sparkling wines is Bagrationi 1882. Bagrationi produces sparkling wines from Georgian indigenous grape varieties, such as Chinuri, Mtsvane, Tavkeri, Tsiska and Saperavi.

While Bagrationi has been producing sparkling wines since 1882 it has been relatively unknown in the US until recently. Don Winkler talks about the introduction of Bagrationi wines into the US in 2009. During a recent #EWBC post-conference trip sponsored by the Georgian Wine Association Spaswinefood had the opportunity to do a sparkling wine tasting at Bagrationi Wines in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Saperavi from Australia: Ridgemill Estate The Czar

18.01.2013. Today’s wine was a gift from a fellow wine writer, Stuart over at The Vinsomniac.  It’s very much a curiosity, and while there are some things that can be determined from the bottle and the producer’s website, writing up this wine has left me with more questions than answers. If answers are found subsequently, I’ll certainly update this post.  And with that puzzling introduction, I give you Ridgemill Estate The Czar Saperavi 2012.

This wine is produced and bottled in Severnlea, which puts it in the Granite Belt wine region in Queensland, Australia.  For those not familiar with this country, Queensland is the state in the north east corner and is home to Brisbane, Cairns, Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast, and the Great Barrier Reef.  It’s the tourists’ image of Australia, with kangaroos hopping along the beach, and it’s not an image that lines up well with growing grapes for wine.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Georgian wine companies to attend Green Week in Berlin

17.01.2013 (Hvino News). With support of the Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia and German Development Cooperation (GIZ) several Georgian wine companies will be presented at International Green Week in Berlin on 18-27 January. Kindzmarauli, Tibaneli, Badagoni, Chateau Mukhrani, Mildiani, Schuchmann Wines, GWS will attend the Berlin trade show.

Georgian delegation will be headed by David Kirvalidze, Minister of Agriculture of Georgia, and includes Levan Davitashvili, head of National Wine Agency. On 19th of January the Ministerial Summit in Berlin will be held.

Established in 1926, International Green Week (IGW) is taking place for the 78th time in 2013. The IGW is a one-of-a-kind international exhibition for the food, agricultural and horticultural industries.  IGW is also the point of origin for the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) with more than 60 departmental ministers.

© Hvino News

Orange wine hits a wall

by Jon Bonné

17.01.2013. This comes in the form of a piece from Richard Betts, sommelier, mezcalero and now Forbes contributor, who penned a piece, “Why Tecate Is Greater than Orange Wine,” in which he — quite rightly — points out that skin-fermented wines (whites made like reds and hence dubbed orange) need to go to a quiet corner for a spell. The orange wine fad, he asserts, has a massive flaw:
"Mind you, I’m all for diversity in the wine space and when I say I’m excited for the orange wines to die, I don’t mean they need to disappear from the planet, nor are they all bad.  I do, however, look forward to the faddish / cultish following they’ve engendered in certain wine circles waning.  There are so many folks jumping up and down to be heard in the wine space today that it seems they’ll “like” something just to be different.  It’s like an arms race of ugly.  Who can like the wine with the most warts wins.  Lame.  Plus it calls into question the ability of these people to actually taste."

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Seven reasons why I love Shavkapito

by Simon Woolf

15.01.2013. Sometimes, falling in love is easy. And so it was with me and Shavkapito – we met across a crowded room at last year’s EWBC conference and with the first sip I knew I was hooked. Is it possible to rate a grape variety just on the strength of one wine? Well, maybe not, but sometimes I’m impulsive. And I’ve now tried Chateau Muhkrani’s Shavkapito on several enjoyable occasions, taking in two different vintages, as well as comparing and contrasting it to the qvevri-fermented version from Kahketi-based Pheasant’s Tears.

So, why do I like it so much?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Georgian delegation to Moscow will include government officials, talks to start after January 20

14.01.2013 (Hvino News). Gennady Onishchenko, Russia's chief public health official and head of the consumer protection agency  Rospotrebnadzor stated that the negotiations over the return of Georgia’s wines and mineral waters to the Russian market may take place after January 20.

Onishenko also said that "According to information from private channels, Georgian delegation will be headed by a government official. At least three delegation members out of six are government representatives. This  demonstrates that Georgia’s intentions are quite serious in the issue".  “The meeting will possibly take place in the fourth week of the year in Moscow,” he said.

Earlier Georgia’s minister of Agriculture David Kirvalidze stated that the representatives of five ministries will be in the delegation that will head to Moscow to negotiate the return of Georgian products to Russian market.

© Hvino News

"The Moscow Times": Conquering the world with wine and food

by Paul Rimple

13.01.2013. In August 2008, I was sitting on a curb in the Georgian village of Akhalgori with journalist Wendell Steavenson watching Ossetian troops loot stores and homes. "This whole thing is crazy," she said. "All Georgia had to do was invite Russia to the dinner table. They would have conquered it with food and wine."
 She, like many foreigners who have spent any time in the country, is intimately familiar with Georgia's most formidable weapon. It's not the "strategic partnership" that brings all those Washington lawmakers to Georgia. It's the food.

Georgians aren't accidental hosts. They steadfastly believe that their cuisine is the center of the universe. They live for the chance to impress guests, and that means the guests are going to get played. In 2005, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili picked up U.S. President George Bush from the airport, showed him a traditional Georgian dance performance and whisked him off to a nearby restaurant for an unscheduled dinner of henkhali and kabobi. The next day, Georgia became the "beacon of democracy." 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

There is a wine chateau in Georgia: Schuchmann Wines

Photo: Spaswinefood
13.01.2013. We arrived at Schuchmann Wines Chateau in Kisikhevi, Telavi just at dusk, after a long bus ride from Tbilisi. It was so wonderful to pull into the parking lot and to be met by the winemaker, Georgi Dakishvili. After a tour of the qvevri room we did a wine tasting. Qvevri (kvevri) wine making is a traditional wine making process used in Georgia. What is unique to this wine making process is the use of a large earthenware vessel (qvevri) in which the wine is made. This natural wine making process involves the use of large clay pots, lined with beeswax that is buried in the ground. Our visit to Schuchman was my first opportunity to see how qvevris are used in modern wine making.

I must admit I loved the Vinoterra wines however, my favorites were the Kisi 2011, Mtsvane 2008 and Saperavi 2009. Tim Lemke's article describes the wines we tasted at Schuchmann Wines. Lemke also notes that the wines can be purchased in the U.S. The winery is owned by German businessman Schuchman. Schuchmann Wines also has a small boutique hotel and restaurant. I can easily imagine staying there to explore more. You can check hotel reviews at Tripadvisor.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Discovering Georgian Wines for #winechat

All photos: Wine Compass
11.01.2013. Quick question? What is the oldest known vinifera wine grape? Muscat. Maybe. One from Greece - perhaps Agiorgitiko? Maybe. How about Rkatsiteli - where clay vessels in the Republic of Georgia have been found that contain Rkatsiteli seeds which date back to 6,000 BC. And Jancis Robinson's The Oxford Companion to Wine states that the wine tradition finds its roots in the valleys of the South Caucasus - it's not far-fetched to believe that Rkatsiteli is one of the first vinifera wine grapes. Yet Rkatsiteli is just one of 500 unique Georgian grape varieties; perhaps one is even older. Moving forward, Georgian wine is mentioned in Greek literature, particularly when Jason finds "fountains of wine" there on his quest for the Golden Fleece.

The wine culture is further encouraged in the 4th century AD by the spread of Christianity in Georgia by St. Nino from Cappadocia, who wore a cross made from vine stems. Being pottery experts, the Georgians mastered qvevri, clay vessels used to ferment and age wine.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Georgian government representatives may visit Moscow to negotiate wine exports

Photo: AFP
10.01.2013. (Hvino News) Georgian government members could take part in negotiations on resuming exports of Georgian wine and mineral water to the Russian market, says Gennady Onishchenko, Russia's chief public health official and head of the consumer protection agency  Rospotrebnadzor.

"They should decide who will travel and then they are welcome. I am prepared to meet with them by January 20. If the Georgian government wishes that members of government institutions be part of this delegation, we won't object," Onishchenko told Russian agency Interfax on Thursday. "We are prepared to meet with them even between January 10 and 20," he said.

© Hvino News

Georgian wine is among the best at Mumbai Wine Fest

 Georgian wine stall.  Photo: gigglewater411
10.01.2013. (Hvino News) The fourth edition of the Mumbai Wine Fest was held on the 5th and 6th of January in Mumbai, India. "The Georgian wine stall was among the best at the fest", - mention the organizers.

"Last year at a similar wine fest I was introduced to wines made from Georgian varietals Saperavi, Mtsvane and Rkatsiteli. Since then I’ve almost learnt how to pronounce their names and found a deeper appreciation for them. Well balanced wines, elegantly bottled and very well priced", - reports Indian wine resource Gigglewater , which covered the Mumbai Wine Fest.

© Hvino News

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Tbilvino to export its Iveriuli wines through Ukraine's Fozzy Group

09.01.2013. (Hvino News) Tbilvino, Georgia's largest wine producer and exporter, has signed an exclusive contract with Ukrainian retailer Fozzy Group to supply its Iveriuli wine to Ukraine.

Ukraine accounts for 17% of total Tbilvino's export, and is the second largest market in company's export portfolio, which includes 28 countries. Thanks to contract with Fozzy Group, Tbilvino plans to sell 120 thousand bottles of wine under Iveriuli brand in Ukrainian supermarkets in 2013.

Iveriuli occupies a niche in the "average" and "above average" of wine market's segments.

© Hvino News

Monday, January 7, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

07.01.2013. Today Georgia and other Orthodox Christian nations celebrate Christmas, which is official holiday in Georgia. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

#winechat - from Georgia to America

06.01.2013  (Hvino News).  American web resource Wine Compass reports that its #winechat will reconvene on January 9th with a focus on the birthplace of wine-making - the Republic of Georgia - where archeologists have unearthed viticulture artifacts from 5,000 to 8,000 years old. "Accompanied by the Georgian Wine House, we will discuss kvevri terracota vessels, the popular Rkatsiteli and Saperavi grapes, and counterfeit wines".  Rkatsiteli and Saperavi have migrated to the United States where a handful of wineries cultivate and vinify these grapes.

"We hope to have representatives from Dr. Konstantin Frank's Vinifera Wine Cellars (NY), Standing Stone Vineyards (NY), Horton Vineyards (VA), Tomasello Winery (NJ) and Avanguardia Wines (CA) as well as Castle Hill Cider, who utilize Georgian kvevri terracota fermenting containers in their Keswick Virginia cidery. We are looking forward to seeing everyone online on the 9th - 9PM ET on Twitter", - says Wine Compass.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

New Georgian wine director Levan Davitashvili at WineBusiness.com

05.01.2013 (Hvino News). Yesterday the leading U.S. wine industry resource WineBusiness.com has published an article featuring Levan Davitashvili, Georgia's newly-appointed head of  National Wine Agency.  Parts of the article "New Georgian Wine Director Seeks to Increase Exports to Traditional, Non-traditional Markets" by David Furer can be found below:

Georgia's Ministry of Agriculture has appointed Levan Davitashvili to direct its National Wine Agency, a post left vacant a year. Formerly marketing director for the country's German-owned Schuchmann Wines, Davitashvili will focus upon the competitiveness and quality of Georgian wine and develop new markets such as that of its formerly dominant Russian neighbor.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Ambassador Gabriela von Habsburg: Georgia now ‘open for business’

04.01.2013  (Hvino News) H.E. Gabriela von Habsburg, also known as Archduchess Gabriela of Austria, is Ambassador of Georgia to Germany since 2009. Germany's Globus Vision published an interview with Ambassador Gabriela von Habsburg in January 2013. The reforms implemented in recent years, along with a privileged geographic position and a well-functioning democracy, have made Georgia a highly attractive place for doing business, she said.

Ambassador Gabriela von Habsburg points out that by cutting red tape and removing obstacles to investors, Georgia has managed to enter the top ten countries in the World Bank's “Ease of Doing Business” ranking. She also touched upon the issues of  tourism, wine and agriculture. Parts of Ambassador Gabriela von Habsburg's interview follow:

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Georgian qvevri wine: if it's good enough for God . . .

Photo: timatkin.com
by Simon Woolf

03.01.2013. For Father Gerasim, whether to treat his wines with sulphur or any other additive isn't a matter of choice. The imperative is simple. Any impurities in the finished product would render it unworthy in the eyes of God.

Gerasim is the winemaker at the 11th Century Alaverdi monastery, a commanding, slightly austere complex with breathtaking views of the Caucasus mountains, located in Kakheti - Georgia's most revered wine region. His core philosophy - “My only wish for wine is less interference in the winemaking” - chimes with non-interventionist winemakers around the globe. But Alaverdi has a traditional Kakhetian weapon in the arsenal which is capable of creating some of the world's most individual and complex wines.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Free Georgian wine tasting with khachapuri in Washington in January

02.01.2013 (Hvino News) On Friday, January 11, Georgian wine tasting will be held  in Washington, DC. The organizers say: "To celebrate 2013 we will be tasting some unique Georgian grape varietals Tsolikouri, Kisi, Mtsvane, Saperavi (in different incarnations ranged from dry red to semi-sweet sparkling), Alexandrouli, etc., from leading Georgian producers Teliani Valley, Vinoterra/Schuchmann, Chateau Mukhrani, Bagrationi, etc".

This free tasting will feature both European and Georgian artisan style wines. The traditional Georgian appetizer khachapuri will be offered, as well as a variety of cheeses will be provided for pairing.

The tasting will take place on January 11, 6-9 PM, at Batch 13, 1724 14th Street, NW, 6-9 pm. Price: complimentary.

© Hvino News

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Tbilisi hosted a conference on Georgian wine export to Russia

01.01.2013 (Hvino News). A conference was held yesterday at Tbilisi Marriott hotel bringing together representatives of Georgian companies to discuss Georgia's export to Russian market. Center for Georgian-Russian Economic Cooperation  organized of the conference.

Giorgi Seturidze, Chair of Center for Georgian-Russian Economic Cooperation  said at the meeting that the technical procedures are almost finished and interstate an agreement is needed to finish the process and export products to the Russian market.

“We have been working for two years to get Georgian wine and mineral water back to the Russian market,” he said, adding that much work has been done in these years. “We have approached a new level, where state structures need to get involved – it takes political will and an interstate agreement.” He said the Russian market will profit from getting Georgian brands back, as they are historically famous there and it is not necessary to spend much money on advertising as it is in other countries.