Thursday, January 31, 2013

Archaeology News: Short overview of wine in Georgia

Kvevris during an excavation at Atskuri church, Georgia , 2006.
© Söderlind, Ulrica
by Ulrica Söderlind

31.01.2013. ACCORDING TO A GEORGIAN LEGEND, GOD TOOK A SUPPER BREAK WHILE HE WAS CREATING THE WORLD. He became so involved in his meal that he by accident tripped over the high peaks of the Caucasus and as a result he spilled his own food onto the land below. The land below blessed with the scarps of Heavens table was Georgia.

Georgia (Sakartvelo) is a transcontinental country in the Caucasus region, situated at the dividing line between Europe and Asia. The country´s geographical location with borders to the Black Sea, the modern Russian federation, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan, has meant that through pre-history and history it has been a crossroad between the East and the West.

Davitashvili: Georgia doesn’t intend to ask Russian experts to control wine quality

31.01.2013 (Hvino News)Georgian party is not going to ask Russian experts to control the Georgian wine quality. As head of the national wine agency Levan Davitashvilit told InterPressNews, if the Russian party wishes to see the process, Georgia will not hinder them and Russian experts swill be enabled to arrive in Georgia and look into the process as Georgia has nothing to hide.

“We are going to Moscow to explain the quality control system to them and assure them that we control thing properly, strictly and adequately. But it was not mentioned that we would go there to ask them to control our quality’, Davitashvili said.

“We’ll express this readiness that we can receive their people and show them everything. We have a lot to show in this field”, he added.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Georgian winemakers disagree with Russian sommeliers

30.01.2013 (Hvino News) Georgian winemakers responded to remarks made recently by Russian sommeliers, who said that if Georgian wine returns to the Russian market, it will not be as popular as it was before the embargo. According to them, the question is that the Georgian wine’s taste properties have significantly changed and that the wine offered by Georgian winemakers today is not traditional for Georgian wine.

Dimitri Lebanidze, Kindzmarauli Marani's director he does not agree with these statements, saying that Georgian wine’s taste qualities have changed for the better. He notes that a style of Georgian wine has improved since the embargo and Russian sommeliers’ statements are unfounded.

Teliani Valley's director Shota Kobelia commented that after embargo Georgian wine’s taste qualities have improved considerably, so it is unknown on what basis the Russian sommeliers make  such statements.

© Hvino News

Drinking in Paris: discovering burnt wine

30.01. 2013. I met Emma Bentley, from the fantastic food blog Burnt Cream after doing a guest post on her site about some of my favorite Paris markets. We met for a drink (okay, a few drinks) and Emma told me about starting her blog in 2011 and how writing had segued into hosting events at her home, such as the Burnt Food supper club and her Burnt Wine tasting series.

Intrigued by these events and Emma’s evident knowledge of natural wines, I was eager to attend a Burnt bash as soon as I had the opportunity. I was therefore pleased to join Emma’s Eastern wine themed Burnt Wine event on a snowy evening in January, which not only provided me with the chance to participate in one of Emma’s tastings, but also proved the perfect primer for another Georgian wine tasting I had later that month.

Eight Georgian experts to negotiate wine, Borjomi imports in Moscow - Onishchenko

29.01.2013 - Georgian wine and Borjomi mineral water may return to the Russian market shortly, Rospotrebnadzor head Gennady Onishchenko told a Tuesday press conference at Russian press agency Interfax.

"I do not anticipate any particular problems unless the subject is politicized. We have requested visa support - eight specialists are coming from Georgia to negotiate with us," he said.

Then Rospotrebnadzor specialists will visit Georgia. If the products prove all right, the deliveries to the Russian market will start, he said.

"Our only concern is distribution," Onishchenko said, adding that the wine must not be diluted.

He said earlier that that a Georgian delegation representing the authorities and the private sector would visit Russia on February 3 to discuss the delivery of Georgian wine and mineral water.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Wine without diplomacy

by Georgy Kalatozishvili

29.01.2013. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Russia ordered the section of Russian interests in the Swiss embassy in Tbilisi to give visas to the members of a Georgian delegation heading to Moscow for negotiations on the export of Georgian wine and other products to the Russian market. The head of Rospotrebnadzor Gennady Onishchenko sent a request to the Foreign Minister to settle the problem of visas, and Sergey Lavrov’s department satisfied the claim.

Russia and Georgia have no diplomatic relations, so the scheme of invitation of a delegation from a neighboring country is so complicated. Georgia too often forgets about this, including the new Georgian government, when restoration of complete economic cooperation with Russia is discussed. At the same time, the new authorities have never denied that the prohibition on import of Georgian products and Georgian wine, which was launched in 2006, had “political grounds,” even though the reasons were low quality of products.

"China Daily": Georgian officials, wine-makers to visit Russia for talks

29.01.2013 (Xinhua) A delegation of Georgian wine-makers will be departing for Russia on February 3 for talks that might lift the ban on Georgian wines to the Russian market, state officials said on Monday.

At a press briefing held at the Georgian agriculture ministry, Levan Davitashvili, chairperson of the Georgian national wine agency, said visas are now ready at the Russian sector of the Swiss embassy in Tbilisi. Switzerland has been representing diplomatic interests of Georgia and Russia respectively in Moscow and Tbilisi since August of 2008.

The Georgian delegation is expected to meet with Russia's chief sanitarian Genady Onischenko, whose department has  imposed the ban on Georgian wine exports to Russia. The Georgian delegation consists of seven members including officials from the agriculture ministry and wine-makers. It will be the first official visit to Russia by Georgian state functionaries since August, 2008.

Teliani Valley, Marani: Every day we receive proposals from Russian importers

29.01.2013 (Hvino News) The largest players in Georgian wine market speak about interest of Russian companies towards their products. Teliani Valley's director Shota Kobelia  reported to Georgian radio Commersant that up to five Russian importing companies expressed interest in Georgian wine, and Teliani Valley received proposals from them. However,  he says  that the talks between the parties are ongoing and no concrete decision has been made.

According to Mr. Kobelia, Teliani Valley has the same attitude towards the Russian market opening as to any new market, which is associated with additional financial income. Kobelia notes  after the Russian market opens  the company plans to export about one  million bottles of wine.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Georgian bottled wines to return to Russia market

28.01.2013 (Hvino News) At the first stage, only bottled Georgian wines will be let to the Russian market, Gennady Onishchenko, head of Russian consumer rights supervisory agency Rospotrebnadzor told last Friday. The Russian Federation will maintain embargo on supply of wine materials for a certain period, he added.

"At the first stage, we do not plan to import wine materials from Georgia, because this may create preconditions for huge adulteration", Onishchenko noted.

On February 4 Genaddy Onishchenko will meet with a Georgian delegation over return of Georgian mineral waters and wines to the Russian market. Later Mr. Onishchenko may visit Georgia to inspect enterprises, according to Russian agency RIA Novosti.

© Hvino News

Mtsvane Kakhuri - Kakheti, Georgia

28.01.2013. Despite the fact that many of my first posts on this blog featured wines from the nation of Georgia, I haven't written a post featuring a Georgian grape in almost two years.  The reason is pretty simple: I really haven't been able to find many new wines made from interesting grapes in awhile.  I've had a few Georgian wines in my cellar for awhile now, but many of them were sweet red wines, which has never been my favorite thing, so I've put off opening them for quite some time.  I have recently gotten around to trying them, though, so posts on those wines will be coming up.  In the meantime, though, I also was able to find a bottle of wine made completely from the Mtsvane grape, which we've seen before, but never in a starring role.  It turns out that Mtsvane is more complicated than I had thought when I wrote about it before, so hopefully we get can to the bottom of it here today.

In my prior two posts featuring wines with a splash of Mtsvane, I was under the impression that there was a single Mtsvane grape and that the references to Mtsvane in each of the two wines were references to that grape.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Georgian hospitality centers around wine and food

by Sharon Parsons

27.01.2013. Georgia, one of the oldest producing wine regions in the world, is rich in tradition. Georgian food and wine are best observed at a Georgian feast, or supra (a traditional banquet feast). In fact, it is hard to find the words to describe the experience. Part of the Georgian tradition is to have a toastmaster at such gatherings. Usually a toast is accompanied by a song or verse. While in Georgia we experienced a number of Georgian feasts that involved food and wine.

Georgian hospitality was super hot on a cold mid-November day when we arrived at Shumi Wine Company, Tsinandali in the Telavi region of Georgia. My primary goal for going to the Republic of Georgia was to better understanding what is involved in qvevri wine making. However, what I discovered first hand in Georgia was not only qvevri wine making but also a rich tradition centered on wine and food. Georgians truly know how to celebrate with wine and food. During a recent #EWBC post-conference trip to Georgia sponsored by the Georgian Wine Association, Spaswinefood experienced Georgian hospitality at its best.

Bloomberg: Russia to receive Georgia delegation to end trade ban

27.01.2013. Russia will issue visas to an official Georgian delegation for talks on reopening its market to wine and mineral water from the former Soviet state.

The Russian interests section at the Swiss Embassy in Georgia will issue the visas, the foreign ministry in Moscow said in a statement posted on its website today. Russia’s public health chief Gennady Onishchenko said Jan. 24 that the negotiations are due to take place in Moscow early next month, state news service RIA Novosti reported.

Russia welcomes the “positive signals” sent by Georgia, President Vladimir Putin said Dec. 20. Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, who came to power after the defeat of Western- allied President Mikheil Saakashvili’s party in October elections, has called for better ties with Russia.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

IMF: Georgia's growth to depend on politics and relations with Russia

By Margarita Antidze

26.01.2013. The International Monetary Fund has warned that political friction in Georgia could endanger the country's economic prospects.

It also believes that the country's economic health could benefit greatly by restoring trade ties with powerful neighbour Russia.

The IMF forecasts economic growth of 6 percent this year, a slowdown from last year's 7 percent, but the IMF's resident representative said in an interview that this will depend on politics stabilising after billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili won last October's parliamentary election.

Georgian delegation is waiting for Russian visas

26.01.2013 (Hvino News) Georgian delegation is still waiting for the visas to travel to Russia for participation in talks on resumption of imports of Georgian products, including wine, to the Russian market - Georgian Agriculture Ministry reported on Thursday, January 24.

According to the Russian media reports, Rospotrebnadzor's chief Gennady Onishenko stated earlier he expected the Georgian delegation to arrive on February 4. He also said, he might travel to Georgia after the meeting to inspect the enterprises on the ground.

"As far as we know, Mr. Onishenko has addressed the Russian Foreign Ministry with the request to provide visa and diplomatic support to the Georgian delegation. So, we will travel when this support is rendered. We are not sure, whether it will be February 4. Everything depends on Russia. The most important thing is that there is a strong will," Georgian Agriculture Ministry's spokesperson said.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Russia's Onishchenko to visit Georgia to discuss wine imports

25.01.2013 (Hvino News) Gennady Onishchenko, Russia's chief sanitary official and the head of the Federal Consumer Protection Service, has announced plans to visit Georgia to discuss resuming supplies of Georgian wine and mineral water to the Russian market, Russian agency Interfax reported yesterday.

He said he plans to head to Georgia after a meeting with the country's delegation in Moscow scheduled for Feb. 4. The meeting will focus on resuming imports of Georgian wine and the famous Borjomi mineral water, banned in 2006 after the Federal Consumer Protection Service deemed it to be of bad quality.

Although Onishchenko did not cite a specific date for when shipments could resume, he said he was hopeful to see them start again in March, Russian Gazeta.ru reported.

Earlier, Onishchenko said that almost 30 Georgian companies had submitted documents to begin shipments, and the quality of wine had improved significantly.

© Hvino News

"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."