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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Moscow fears the US could poison Russia with Georgian wine

by Giorgi Lomsadze

24.07.2013. Try as he might, Russia's Dr. Strangelove, otherwise known as food security tsar Dr. Gennadiy Onishchenko, has not yet stopped worrying and learned to love a Georgian tomato. Or a peach. Or a bottle of wine.

Onishchenko, who apparently has a nose like no other for potential alimentary attacks, now has deduced that a US-sponsored biological lab in Georgia supposedly could be used to poison fruit, vegetables and wine bound for Russia.

To hear him describe it, the lab, named after former US Senator Richard Lugar, sounds like a military-guarded facility hemmed with barbed wire, and with a dark storm cloud constantly hovering overhead. It is a “powerful offensive” weapon and “is out of the control of the Georgian authorities,” Onishchenko said in a statement. The presence of such a force in the proximity of the Russian border is “a direct violation of the Biological Weapons Convention,” he asserted.

The upshot: If Georgia wants to keep selling its agricultural produce to Russia, it has to shut down the Lugar Lab.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Russia warns Georgia over U.S.-funded bio lab

US Ambassador R.Norland. Photo IPN
22.07.2013. Just few months after Russia dropped embargo on Georgian wines and mineral waters, its chief sanitary doctor warned that presence of the U.S.-funded bio lab in Tbilisi would have “sharply limiting effect” on bilateral trade ties.

Gennady Onishchenko, head of Russia’s state consumer protection agency Rospotrebnadzor, which ordered ban on import of Georgian products to Russia in 2006, told Interfax news agency on that the laboratory represents “a powerful offensive potential.”

“Russia deems it to be a direct violation of BWC [Biological Weapons Convention],” Onishchenko was quoted.

Russian Foreign Ministry’s July 19 statement, released in rebuttal of the U.S. Department of State’s annual report on arms control and nonproliferation, contains what might be a reference to the U.S.-funded biological research laboratory in Tbilisi outskirts. The Russian MFA’s statement says: “Biological-related activities of the U.S. Department of Defense close to the Russian borders also cause our serious concern.”

U.S. accused of bioweapons use through Georgian wine

22.07.2013 (Hvino News). Russia's chief sanitary inspector, Gennady Onishchenko, has accused the U.S. of producing biological weapons in Georgia and said they posed a threat to Russia.

A U.S. Navy laboratory located on the premises of a former Soviet military base on the outskirts of Tbilisi is engaged in activities that violate the 1975 Biological Weapons Convention, threaten Russia and will harm economic cooperation, Onishchenko told Russian news agency Interfax.

The laboratory could threaten the health of Russians through imported wine, vegetables and fruits, said Mr. Onishchenko. He said Russia might need to respond by limiting imports of Georgian wine.

"The day is approaching when Russia will receive a million liters of wine from Georgia. But the factor of presence on Georgian territory of a military laboratory of the U.S. Navy will have a sharply limiting effect"- said Onishchenko. According to him, “with the broadening of contacts and shipments of Georgian wines and agriculture products into Russia, our alarm over presence on the Georgian territory of the powerful laboratory of the U.S. Navy, which is out of the Georgian authorities’ control, will be more and more increasing”, as the food is the most efficient way of intake of harmful substances.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

7 Georgian wine companies exporting to Russia: the stats

20.07.2013 (Hvino News). National Wine Agency of Georgia reports that 7 wine companies have exported products to the Russian market:
  • GWS - 280,000 bottles
  • Dugladze Wine Company - 270,000 bottles
  • Kakheti Traditional Winery (KTW) - 250,000 bottles
  • Marniskari - 108,000 bottles
  • Batono - 72,000 bottles
  • Tbilvino - 30,000 bottles
  • Georgian Wine House - 15,600 bottles.
According to Agency's head Levan Davitashvili, average cost of Georgian wine in Russia makes up $3.5 and "it is well sold". The producers plan to sell up to 10 million bottles. This volume is twice less than before the Russian embargo.

© Hvino News

Friday, July 19, 2013

Q: How does one make a pheasant cry?

19.07.2013. Wines Tasted:
- Pheasant’s Tears, Rkatsiteli, Bodbiskhevi Village, Kakheti 2010
- Pheasant’s Tears, Kisi, Alaverdi Village, Kakheti, 2010
- Pheasant’s Tears, Saperavi, Kakheti, 2008

Q: How does one make a pheasant cry?

A: Make a wine so beautiful it will bring tears of joy to the pheasant’s eyes – or so the Georgian tale goes. This tale is inspiration for the name and label of perhaps the most well known winery from Georgia, Pheasant’s Tears.

With archaeological evidence of wine making dating back 8,000 years [1], wine is an integral part of the history and culture of Georgia. In fact, when the country first adopted Christianity in the 4th Century CE, the first cross was made of vines. [2]

The traditional vessel most closely associated with wine making in Georgia is the qvevri (quevri, kvevri), an egg shaped clay vessel available in all manner of sizes. When thinking of wine storage during ancient times the two images that come to mind are the amphora and the qvevri. After some not insignificant reading it would seem there are many different opinions on the differences, if any, between the two vessels. The most significant difference would appear to be that the qvevri was used not only to store the wine but the wine was actually fermented in these vessels which were also buried in the ground to maintain a cool and even temperature. Although similar in appearance, amphorae have handles and were used as more of a storage vessel for transportation and they were not typically buried in the ground (notable exceptions being in the northeast of Italy and Slovenia where amphorae are buried in the ground during fermentation and maturation).

Thursday, July 18, 2013

From the homeland of wine – a "guide" to Georgian wine

Photo: Jennifer Walker
by Jennifer Walker

18.07.2013. My landlady unlocked the rusty gate. The stairs descended down to my new apartment in Tbilisi, Georgia. It was five in the morning. The sky was painted in pastel colours above the Metekhi Church that peered above the carpet of vines covering the courtyard. Grape vines were everywhere; they crawled up the iron bars of our balcony, with tendrils curving around the nails sticking out of the wall, spilling over the corrugated iron roof, completely covering the terrace.

“Do you make wine?” I asked her, yawning from my overnight journey.

“Kho, yes, of course,” she said, “Everyone makes wine in Georgia.”

While not as popular as wines from France and Spain, I have heard about Georgian wine talked about with passionate nostalgia.

“It was the most beautiful thing I had tasted,” recounted an Armenian physicist I knew, “I was in my twenties, on holiday at the Black Sea. I’ll always remember that first taste of Georgian wine.”

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Russian chief sanitary inspector satisfied with Georgian wine quality

17.07.2013. (Hvino News). Russian Chief Sanitary Inspector Gennady Onishchenko expressed satisfaction with the quality of Georgian wine, Russian news agency Interfax reported.

Six Georgian companies have delivered 141 batches of alcohol products with a total volume of 617,077 liters. 61 batches with a volume of 226,579 liters arrived last week.

292 state licenses were issued and 53 more are on the way. 27 of them were granted to wine producers. Six companies have already started selling their products to Russia.

Mr. Onishchenko supposed that imports of alcohol products from Georgia would not significantly affect the Russian market.

© Hvino News

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The secret to Georgian grilled meats? Grapevines and lots of wine (with audio)

by Corey Flintoff, National Public Radio



16.07.2013. Tucked between Russia and Turkey, the Republic of Georgia is renowned for great food: cheese dishes, pickles, breads and stews. This is a cuisine that you should not miss.

And on summer evenings in the capital, Tbilisi, the air is fragrant with the smells of one of Georgian cookery's highlights: grilled meat, or shashlik.

You can find good shashlik at restaurants with white tablecloths, but the very best in all Tbilisi is said to be at a roadside stop called Mtsvadi Isalamze. It's an unassuming place with rows of wooden picnic tables in an open yard.

The grill is a brick hearth where Giorgi Kavelashvili follows the traditions of his native Kakheti, the easternmost province of Georgia and the nation's wine country. Kavelashvili is 19, but he grills with absolute confidence, because, he says, "In Kakheti, everyone knows how to make shashlik. So I studied it from my childhood."

The Korea Times: Envoy's wine promotion takes patience

by Kim Se-jeong

16.07.2013. Sixteen months into his job, Georgian Ambassador to Korea Nikloz Apkhazava’s efforts to raise awareness of his country’s wine and to find importers here has not been an easy one.

“Very few people know about Georgian wine. It’s only known among experts,” Apkhazava said in an interview. But, there’s a very good reason that Georgian wine deserves recognition, he adds. “Georgia is the cradle of wine.”

When studying wine, Georgia can’t be ignored. It is recorded that the history of wine goes back to approximately 8,000 B.C. “It is 2,000 years prior to major civilizations in Egypt and Mesopotamia,” said Cesare Woo, president of the Korea Sommelier Association, who recently wrote a book on the history of wine.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Chief technologist of KTW (Kakhetian Traditional Winemaking) comments on Georgian wine history

15.07.2013. After seven years of embargo, Georgian wines and brandies are returning to the Russian market. Since June, 538,6 thousand bottles have been supplied to Russia. These are wines made by such companies as KTW, Dugladze Wine House, Batoni, Marniskari and GWS.

Giorgi Kiknadze, KTW's Chief Technologist, told about Georgian wines. According to him, “it is estimated that Georgian wines have existed in the world for as long as the people of Georgia itself – for  6-7 thousand years already. Georgian wine is not only a majestic drink; it is figuratively a capital letter in the alphabet of Georgian culture and spirituality. Eastern Georgia, Kakheti, is the center of Georgian wine, which gave the world its own technology of wine production – wines of the Kakheti type and spirits, chacha and brandy. One of the peaks of Georgian wine production rightfully belongs to Georgian brandy. Georgian brandy production came in the wake of the general rise of agriculture of the Russian Empire”.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Russia Today's video on Georgian wine in Moscow

14.07.2012. Hvino News' Sunday feature is Russia Today interviewing Moscow-based expats on Georgian wine (and on Edward Snowden), directly from a pub in Moscow.

Russia Today (RT) is a state-owned English-language television channel.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

"Is Georgia the next ‘new’ wine-exporting country?": Research published

13.07.2013. (Hvino News).  Last June Hvino News wrote about the Australian professor Kym Anderson's research on Georgian wine industry - see more detail at Prof. Anderson looks at Georgia as an emerging wine-exporting country. Professor  Anderson's research was later published by scholarly Journal of Wine Economics. Now the paper by Dr. Anderson, entitled "Is Georgia the next ‘new’ wine-exporting country?", is finally available for our readers.

The article's abstract follows below. The full text in PDF format can be viewed here. It is also added to Hvino News' section Documents and Reports for easier access.
The former Soviet republic of Georgia is reputedly the cradle of wine and has enjoyed at least 8,000 vintages. It has also been a major supplier of wine to Russia for at least 200 years, but to few other countries. In 2006, however, Russia imposed a ban on beverage imports from Georgia. Since then this relatively poor country, in which nearly half the population is rural and most farmers have a vineyard, has been seeking to develop new export markets for its wine. This paper assesses the potential for growth in Georgia’s wine production and exports.It then outlines ways to addresses the challenges involved in trying to realize that potential, drawing on the experience of other countries that have rapidly expanded their wine exports in the past two decades. Implications for policy are drawn, particularly for ensuring that poverty is reduced as exports expand and the economy grows.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Georgian wine comes back to Russia

Photo: The Moscow Times
by Lena Smirnova

12.07.2013. It was meant to be a triumphant comeback that would patch up sour diplomatic relations between former Soviet republics and satisfy Russia's thirst for quality wine. But following a six-year ban from the country, Georgian wines are facing an uphill battle in the market and experts say they are unlikely to regain their former glory.

"Georgian wines had 10 percent of the market before the ban. Now they won't get more than 2 percent," said wine industry expert Erkin Tuzmukhamedov. "The niche has been filled by cheaper wines from Spain, Portugal, Latin America."

The Federal Consumer Protection Service banned imports of Georgian wine in 2006, claiming that six out of 10 didn't meet quality standards, though critics speculated that the move was politically motivated in light of the escalating tensions between the former allies.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Kakheti Wine Cellar purchased modern winery equipment from Della Toffola

11.07.2013 (Hvino News) National Wine Agency reports that wine producer Kakheti Wine Cellar has purchased new winery equipment and wine reservoirs from the Italian manufacturer Della Toffola. For that purpose the company borrowed $600,000 in the framework of governmental program on preferential agricultural crediting.

According to Public Register, Kakheti Wine Cellar was established in 2007. Current owner of 100% is Mr. Giorgi Kevkhishvili.

Della Toffola Spa is leading Italian producer of wine-making equipment.

© Hvino News

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Brandy from Askaneli Brothers finally makes it to the Russian market

10.07.2013 (Hvino News) Brandy produced by Georgian company Askaneli Brothers, which was previously rejected by the Russian Sanitation Department, will be exported to Russia after all.

Reports regarding the rejection of five different brands of Askaneli brandy by the Russian authorities were published earlier this spring - see Russia denies registration to five types of Georgian brandy by Askaneli Brothers and Askaneli Brothers protest against Russian state agency Rospotrebnadzor. Ont of the owners of Askaneli Brothers, Jimi Chkhaidze, says that the wines manufactured by his company can already be found on the Russian market, and while there were problems with the brandy, these have now been resolved. According to Mr. Chkhaidze, the excise marks will arrive this week, and the Askaneli brandy will be soon shipped to the Russian Federation.

© Hvino News

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Eniseli Wines Baraka Kakheti 2007

09.07.2013. Finally emptied my fridge of all my white wines in anticipation of the Finger Lakes Wine Festival this weekend.  There I will stock up on many of my favorite white wines and Rosé wines for the remaining summer months.

Tonight I grilled up some ka-bobs and opened a Republic of Georgia red wine that had been sitting in the fridge for close to seven months.  The wine was 100% Saperavi, a grape that a few Finger Lakes wineries are doing a magnificent job with, but Georgia is the homeland of this dark grape. I purchased this bottle at the PLCB store in the Berkshire mall in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania.  I like visiting that store because of the quality of selections and the knowledge of the staff, especially in the wine section.  Different wines are always suggested based on my wine preferences and I have not been let down yet.  Whether these stores remain public or private is now in their State Assembly, but I would hate to see changes in the personnel at this store. The wine: Eniseli Wines Baraka Kakheti 2007 ($12)

Eniseli Wines is relatively new on the market.  Established in 2007, they own 8 hectares of old vine Saperavi along with 6 hectares of new vines near the village of Enseli in the Kakheti region of Georgia.  The company also owns 22 hectares of Saperavi on the slopes in Segaani in the Gurjaani district of Kakheti.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Borjomi to sell 30 million bottles in Russia by the end of 2013

08.07.2013. (Hvino News). Borjomi plans to sell 30 million bottles of mineral water in Russia by the end of 2013. If  Borjomi is able to sell 30 million bottles, it will reach one-third of annual sales for 7 month period before the embargo.

The most famous Georgian mineral water resumed sales in Russia in May this year. The products have already appeared in St. Petersburg and Moscow  retail chains. In the near future it will be supplied to other Russian cities.

Borjomi appeared in Russia with the revised design, and in four options of packaging: 0.33-liter glass bottle, 0.5-liter bottle and 0.75 liter plastic bottle.

According to Borjomi exclusive distributor, IDS Borjomi Russia's director Alexander Zhdanov, their goal is to become a leader in the Russian market and to take  at least 15% of the market in 3 years.

© Hvino News

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Chateau Mukhrani presents Reserve Du Prince wines

06.07.2013. The Chateau Mukhrani wine company held a presentation of Reserve Du Prince wines of Saperavi 2007 and Guruli Mtsvane 2010 at their wine studio on 6 Samghebro St.

Considered to be the most noble and exclusive wines, Reserve Du Prince received the recognition of leading experts at Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, the most prestigious wine competition in the world.

“We received the gold medal for our Rkatsiteli white wine and the grand gold medal for the Reserve Du Prince Saperavi 2007,” says Petter Svaetichin, Director and CEO of Chateau Mukhrani.

Saperavi has all the noble characteristics which make it one of the world’s most outstanding reds. With a well textured and harmoniously balanced palate of mulberry, blackberry and cherry, the wine offers a joint sensation. The wine goes great with red meat fried, grilled or stewed with spices and with matured cheese of different types.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Russian sanitary inspectors to arrive in Georgia this month

04.07.2013.  (Hvino News) Third group of inspectors of the Russian Sanitation Department will arrive in Georgia at the end of the month. Levan Davitashvili, head of the National Wine Agency says that  the exact date will be announced later this week.

According to Mr. Davitashvili, wine, beer and mineral water companies will undergo the inspection, the applications have already been made by  30 companies.

Russia's Chief Sanitary Doctor Gennady Onishchenko said  that companies list provided by the Georgian side included  more than 20  wineries as well as beer manufacturers who failed to submit samples of their products to Russian experts during two previous inspections, which took place earlier this year.

© Hvino News

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Wine from Georgia is totally underrated right now

by Jeffrey Shaw

03.07.2013. Oh, you thought Georgia was known for peaches? Well they are, but we’re not talking about that Georgia. We all know and love European wines. France, Spain, and Portugal are the real heavy hitters, providing us with excellent reds and whites. But there’s more to wine in Europe than just a few Western European countries. Georgia, a former Soviet republic in the southern Caucasus, is renowned across the former USSR for its wines. Archaeological research has even uncovered wines from 8,000 years ago in what is today Georgia.

The biggest wine-producing region in Georgia is Kakheti, where the majority of Georgian grapes are grown. Some Georgian wines are still served in their traditional clay bottles. If you can find these, they’ll make a great conversation piece to go along with your glass of wine!

A popular red wine from Georgia is called Kindzmarauli. It’s a semi-sweet wine. Fans of dry reds will like Mukuzani, which is aged for at least three years in oak casks. Mukuzani wines have won awards all over the world for their unique taste. Both of these wines are made from the Saperavi grape, but they taste vastly different because of the differences in how they’re aged and stored. Georgian reds are particularly good with red meat dishes.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Russian consumer rights watchdog: Abkhazia "looks more beneficial" to Russia in terms of wine supplies

G. Onishchenko, photo: AFP
02.07.2013. Georgia is still behind Abkhazia in terms of wine supplies to Russia, Gennady Onishchenko, chief of the Russian consumer rights watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor, told Russian agency Interfax on Monday.

"The state of Abkhazia, with an established political orientation, looks more beneficial in terms of supply volumes and stable dynamics for cooperation increase. We are doing business here with clear state structures with responsibility and mandates," Onishchenko said.

According to Onishchenko, Abkhazia supplied 444 consignments of alcohol products of over 5.1 million liters, including 425 consignments of wine, 15 consignments of wine beverages, three consignments of chacha and a consignment of brandy, to Russia in 2013 so far.

Marniskari exported 50 thousand bottles of wine to Russia

02.07.2013.  (Hvino News) After Dugladze Wine House, which was the first Georgian producer to export wine to Russia after lifting embargo,  Marniskari company talks about increased demand on Russian market.

Marniskari's director Mr. Lasha Revazishvili told Georgian radio that 50 thousand bottles of wine were sent to Russian market, and the company has already received additional orders for the next week.

According to Mr. Revazishvili, Marniskari already partners with six Russian distribution companies, but more distribution companies expressed their  interest in company's products. Mr. Revazishvili noted  that the company plans to export one million bottles of wine to Russian market. Besides Moscow, the wine will be sold in four other Russian cities.

© Hvino News

Monday, July 1, 2013

Official: Georgia's wine export statistics for June 2013

01.07.2013.  (Hvino News)  According to the Georgian Wine Agency total of 1,630,612 liters of wine (0.75-liter bottled) was exported to 18 countries in June, 2013. The overall export as of June amounts to 8,539,901 liters, being 24% higher vs same period of last year.

Five leading export destinations of Georgian wine are as follows: Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Russia and Poland, where Ukraine holds 43% of total volume of exports. China and Latvia are on 6th and 7th places in volumes respectively.

Exports to Russia were resumed in June with 415,000 liters, contributed by 4 Georgian producers.

Exports in value as of June 2013 amounted to US$ 33,709,727, which is 11,7% higher compared to last year.

© Hvino News

VTB Bank to insure risks of exporters to Russia

01.07.2013. VTB Bank Georgia has started offering the new financial instrument - factoring - to its consumers. Wine company Kindzmarauli Marani has been one of the first to receive over USD 2 million of financing within the frames of the new product [read more: Russian bank and Georgia's Kindzmarauli Marani signed protocol on $2 million financing]. The funding has no limits and is ready to satisfy consumers’ demands.

Factoring offers optimization of cash flow and freeing up working capital. Instead of waiting for payment from their customer, suppliers receive money from factoring. Services allow consumers to deliver products with payment upfront, while customers may continue to defer payment.

Georgian wines begin to appear in Russian stores: Comments from professionals

01.07.2013. Georgian wines begin to appear in Russian stores again. The general director of Rotor House Brand Management Company Alexander Bondarenko said that the company presented two types of Georgian products – Old Tbilisi and Tamada by the company GWS. The wines had been widely presented at the Russian market before the embargo of 2006. “The brand was the leader of the Russian market, and it is well-known to Russian customers. Another brand is the Georgian brandy Old Kakheti. It was absent at the Russian market before the embargo. We plan to launch it and make it a leader of the category. The brand is widely presented in Ukraine where it takes the first place among brandies,” the Russian businessman said.

Speaking about the product quality, Alexander Bondarenko notes that the amount of grape which is grown and processed in Georgia is enough to cover all major markets. “This is Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus, and of course Russia. The quality control which is provided by the Georgian government makes us absolutely sure that only high-quality product will get into our market; and there will be no problems,” the businessmen promised.