Friday, March 21, 2014

Wine Review - 2011 Tblivino Rkatsiteli: Light and crisp white from the republic of Georgia

21.03.2014. We purchased this wine a while ago at a Cristall Wine Merchants. We were talking to a former staffer who gave us some insight on how these Georgian wines came to Nova Scotia [Canada - HN] and how expensive it was to get them here.  Having to have the wines shipped from Georgia to Germany then on to Canada.  That said, they retailed for less than $20 so it would be interesting to know the wholesale price.

The bottle is dark so we incorrectly assumed that would be a golden or amber wine.  In fact, this is a very light colour wine, it borders on clear with a little fizz in the bottom of the glass.  Really interesting look to the wine made even more surprising by lack of colour.  It is so watery that there are no legs in the glass and it more comes down in a sheet.

The overwhelming notes are peaches and lavender.  It is not a super complex wine from the bouquet side of things but Shannon thought it had a strong nose and I thought it was quite soft.  Neither one of us had a cold so it was a strange scenario.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The head of NATO Liaison Office in Georgia sits on ICC-Georgia Consultative Board

19.03.2014. The Georgian National Committee of the International Chamber of Commerce, ICC-Georgia is pleased to announce that the Head of the NATO Liaison Office in Georgia, Mr. William Lahue, has become a member of its Consultative Board.  "This is a very positive step to further the improvement of the business and economic climate in Georgia through having NATO permanently informed and involved in our activities, this will give NATO increased awareness of business and economic issues helping them better understand the realities on the ground to make well informed decisions, " said Fady Asly, Chairman of ICC-Georgia.  The NATO Liaison Office Staff will be also be involved in other ICC- Georgia activities as well.

The ICC Consultative Board is the only body of its kind in the business community in Georgia, consisting of eight ambassadors and three major international financial institutions.  The purpose of the Consultative Board is to bring together members of the diplomatic and business communities on a quarterly basis to discuss the business and investment climate in the country.  The issues raised are subsequently advocated to the government through a multi-pronged approach by the ICC stakeholders to effect positive change in the business and investment climate.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

ICC Georgia sends off first group of interns

17.03.2014. ICC Georgia is proud to announce its first group of Youth Members to be accepted to internships.   Four members of the ICC Georgia Youth Project were accepted by Rustavi 2 to work as a project team on a “Technology Study” project.  This is an outstanding opportunity for the members and they have been awarded an opportunity to distinguish themselves and jumpstart their careers as young professionals.

The Youth Project members that won this opportunity were Nazi Jincharadze, from International Black Sea University, specializing in Business Management.  The second is Tea Kelbaqiani, from Free University, specializing in Business Administration.  The third is Kate Tartarashvili, from Grigol Robakidze University, specializing in Business Administration.  The fourth is Mamuli Salakaia, from International Black Sea University, specializing in Industrial Engineering.  If you or anyone you know between the age of 26 is also interested in such opportunities provided from ICC Georgia’s Youth Project, please contact Marika Vallner at m.vallner@icc.ge.

ICC press release
Distributed by Hvino.com as proud member of ICC Georgia

Friday, March 14, 2014

Official: Georgia's wine export statistics for February 2013

14.03.2014 (Hvino News) According to the Georgian Wine Agency total of 5,953,295 (0.75 L) bottles of wine was exported to 18 countries in February, 2014. The overall export as of February amounted to 9,990,387 (0.75L) bottles, a 296% increase on the similar index in 2013.

Russia was the biggest buyer of Georgian wines in January-February 2014. The National Wine Agency  reported  that Georgia’s wine export to Russia amounted to 6,865,545 bottles of wine (0.75 liter bottles), which accounted for 68% of the Georgian wine export.

Aside from Russia, the top five buyers of Georgian wines include Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Poland and Latvia.

Georgia exported 47 million bottles of wine to 46 countries in 2013. Out of this number, 23 million bottles, or about 49% of the entire export, went to Russia. Georgia exported only 23, 340,000 bottles of wine in 2012.

© Hvino News   |  DRINK GEORGIAN!

    Georgian Wine Catalogue      

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Welcome to Sovok*: Georgia at Moscow's Prodexpo fair

Photo vinoge.com
by Nukri Kurdadze

13.03.2014. In February each year Moscow hosts Prodexpo, international exhibition of alcohol drinks and food products, with participation of distributor-importers as well as producers from various countries around the globe. Popularity of this exhibition has fallen significantly over the past years, as there are less and less large international corporations present, while regional business representatives visit more frequently. This exhibition is an interesting opportunity to study the market, while spectrum of products presented gives a good overview of new tendencies.

Exhibition held on February 10-14, 2014 was especially interesting in terms of studying perspectives and issues associated with Georgian wine. It’s not only about number of contracts signed by distributors, but also about looking at the overall presence of Georgian wine, which would enable me to judge marketing strategies selected by Georgian producers to enter Russian market.

It was predictable and nice to see producers like Telavi Wine Cellar, Khareba, Kvareli Wine, Tamada and Dzveli Tbilisi by GWS, Badagoni, Tavadze Wine, Tbilvino, Viniveria, Chateau Mukhrani, Sarajishvili (please forgive me for incomplete list). Booths decorated according to international standards, large variety of products and professionalism of personnel made good impression and indicated innovative changes that took place in Georgian wine industry for the past 5-6 years. We can call this group “innovative producers”, as they are already successful entrepreneurs and I am sure they are able to develop their business on a Russian market as well. They have everything needed to achieve this goal: high quality wine, high demand and expectation, labels branded according to international marketing standards and correct pricing policy ranging from 300 to 3,000 Russian Rubles and covers average, premium and prestigious price segments. It was a pleasant fact that this assortment included a large portion of the last two segments. As I inquired price of Khvanchkara, it turned out it cost 1,100 Russian Rubles (approx. $35) and it is sold so quickly that they often lack stock.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Askaneli Brothers has temporarily suspended export to Ukraine

11.03.2014 (Hvino News). Due to depreciation of Ukrainian currency hryvnia, company Askaneli Brothers has temporarily suspended wine export to Ukraine.

One of the founders of the company Jimi Chkaidze states that currently new batch of the wine is not sent to Ukraine, although there are still reserves on the place and distribution in the country is going in the usual mode.

"We are optimistic, we hope that situation will be improved soon and we will resume export as soon as the currency is stabilized", - Jimi Chkhaidze states.

He says that currently export to Russia is carried out smoothly. From June of the current year the company starts wine export to Canada as well. Tvishi and Kindzmarauli of Askaneli Brothers won 2 tenders announced by Canadian state enterprise LSBO.

© Hvino News       |  DRINK GEORGIAN!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Introduction to wines of Racha

by Malkhaz Kharbedia

I can say that I’ve been acquainted with grape-growing and wine-making traditions of this region since childhood. 2-3 times a year we would visit Zeda (upper) Shavra village of Racha, my mother’s homeland. Our vineyards with Tsolikouri, Rachuli Dzvelshavi and Aleksandrouli grape varieties were located in Kveda (lower) Shavra, while we made wine in our own cellar, traditional wine press (Satsnakheli) and poured the juice in Churi (clay pots) in the ground under a small pavilion. Sometimes we sent back the juice in the wine press and left for final fermentation.

It is because of Valiko Dvali, my grandfather that vine and wine has become an important part of my life. My first lessons came from Racha wines and therefore, before I tasted wines of Kakheti, clay pots of Imereti or branded wines of 80-ies, my views of Georgian wines in general came from Racha wine standpoint.

Racha covers large portion of Ambrolauri district as well as Oni district. Vineyards are mainly located in the gorge of Rioni river, on its left and right banks (better quality vines are produced on the southern slopes of the latter). In lower Racha the most important is “Khvanchkara” micro-zone. On paper it covers village Tsesi all the way to Kvishara, but in reality, this area is much smaller. Main villages are Sadmeli, Gviara, Bostana, Didi Chorjo, Patara Chorjo, Meore Tola, Pirveli Tola, Chrebalo, and others. In terms of soil, Racha mainly has humus-carbonate and clay soils as well as limy soil, flint mixed with clay and sand with clay. These types of soils even have special names (Tiri-soil, Lisi-soil, Khorkhi-soil, Akhalo-soil, etc). The climate is humid enough, with average cold winters and hot, relatively dry summer.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Does Georgian wine face threats in Ukraine?

07.03.2014. Wine companies speak about risks they face in Ukraine. According to Schuchmann Wines'  Nutsa Abramishvili, political situation became more complicated and the market is unpredictable in Ukraine, however, export of wine from Georgia does not face problems at this stage.

In her words, the company's distribution partner has not informed them about the possible problems with export in Ukraine and they do not think about the reduction of volume of exports. Along with that, in Abramishvili’s opinion, if the processes in Ukraine don’t stabilize, it will badly impact the Georgian economy. Schuchmann Wines sells 25% of export products in Ukraine.

Telavi Wine Cellar also speaks about risks associated with the Ukrainian market. According to Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the company, there is a danger associated with the Ukrainian market , but so far no practical impact in terms of the delivery has observed. Zurab Ramazashvili says that sales of wine are stable in Ukraine. He says if the processes in Ukraine don’t stabilize and the situation turns into unmanageable, it will create problems not only to them but also to all countries having trade relations with Ukraine. 15-20% of exports of  Telavi Wine Cellar go to Ukraine.

Source (edited)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Georgian wine gains in Russia

05.03.2014. The Georgian wine’s return to the Russian market has exceeded all expectations: within six months it has reached fourth position among the top ten wine importers in the country. In spite of the pessimism of the former sanitary head of the Russian Federation, Gennadiy Onishchenko, that Georgian wine would not be able to take more than 1% of Russia’s wine market – though it had dominated before the embargo - Georgian wine now covers 2.42%.

According to Levan Davitashvili, head of the National Wine Agency of Georgia, Georgian wine that returned to the Russian market in June 2013 follows imports from France, Italy and Spain. Previously the wine was in a lower price category, but now sells for 8 to 40 USD per bottle.

Davitashvili has been optimistic from the very outset, believing in the high competitive power of Georgian wine and predicting that no less than 10 million bottles would be exported by the end of 2013 to Russia. But the result exceeded all expectations: 23 million bottles.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Marani Georgian restaurant opens in London

by Catherine Hanly

Opening its doors today in Mayfair is Marani a family run restaurant hoping to introduce Londoners to the joys of Georgian cooking. And just in case you were thinking, 'What MORE shrimp and grits?" we mean Georgia over by the Black Sea, not the American deep South.

Taking over the space that was Tempo on Curzon Street, Marani's 'thing' is supra which (using Wikipedia) we discovered is apparently a traditional Georgian feast. Chef Tekuna Gachechiladze will take traditional dishes as his inspiration but give them a lighter touch. So there'll be Khinkali dumplings (knobs of dough with spiced meat), Khachapuri cheese bread and spiced broths as well as slow-cooked stews, skewered meats from the mangal grill and a wide variety of vegetarian dishes.

Dishes they're particularly proud of include Xinkali soup (spicy broth with dumplings), Elarji balls (polenta with cheese served with a spicy almond baje dipping sauce) and Lamb Chakapuli (slow cooked lamb with plums and tarragon).

National Wine Agency: Danger of presence of GMOs in the Georgian wine is minimal

04.03.2014 (Hvino News). The issue of verification of Georgian wine for  presence of genetically modified organisms was commented by director of the National Wine Agency Levan Davitashvili. According to him, probability that wine with the content of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) exists in the world is quite high, but with regard to Georgia it is minimal, because the Georgian manufacturers use high grade yeast.

"Wine is considered genetically modified when genetically modified yeast is used during the production.In Georgia, a lab which checks products for the presence of such substances, has been recently opened and accordingly, Georgian wine can also be checked if necessary. I am far from thinking that in Georgia such wine is produced, but if the issue arises, it will be easy to check it out,"- said Mr. Davitashvili.

This issue became urgent after a Russian media reported that 65% of Moldovan wine contained GMOs.

© Hvino News       |  DRINK GEORGIAN!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Georgia raises prices for wine exports

04.03.2014. Most Georgian wine companies have already raised the prices of their exports. Production prices have risen since the end of 2013, and it affected the main export markets.

"Prices rose only for red wine, and this is caused by  increase in product demand and a rise in price of grapes in Georgia. Export wine has risen in price by 10-20%, but in Georgia prices have not changed," Business Georgia quotes Georgi Margvelashvili, general director of Tbilvino.

Schuchmann Wines also raised export prices 10-15%. According to its CEO Nutsa Abramishvili, the reason is the same - growth in demand and the rise in price of raw materials.


Friday, February 28, 2014

ICC Georgia to open office in Batumi

28.02.2014. ICC Georgia is pleased to announce the opening of a new office in Batumi that has been in high demand from businesses in Ajara and it offers direct access to the services from ICC Georgia.

The opening ceremony will occur today 28 February 2014, starting at 5pm where a presentation will be given by the Chairman of ICC Georgia Mr. Fady Asly and followed by a social event.

The new office is collocated with the office of the International Investors Association. Osman Chalishkhan - Mjavanadze, who is one of the members of the Board of Directors of ICC Georgia, will be the senior representative at the new location.  “This is a positive step for Georgian businesses not only for Ajara but for the whole country, Ajara is a very important destination for investors from all over the world and the presence of ICC in Ajara will help them integrate very easily in the business life of the country” said Fady Asly, Chairman of the Board.

ICC press release

Meet the growers: Georgia

28.02.2014. The Real Wine Fair is delighted to welcome back a sizeable contingent of Georgian wine growers for the 2014 event. Wine is truly integral to Georgian culture; it enjoys a sacramental function, for whilst many people have their own Qvevri and make wine to put on the table, the very love of wine itself symbolises a simultaneous deep-rooted attachment to the (mother)land and a love of one’s fellow man and one’s family, and a spiritual love for nature.

This relatively small country is now having an enormous impact on the world wine scene and, in particular, its revived traditions have captured the hearts and minds of many leading growers from other countries. For the natural wines made in Georgia possess a remarkable energy; from organically farmed vineyards, made in qvevri whether with or without prolonged skin-contact they truly throb with life. The renewal of this wine culture is in its relative infancy; the vines need to become more established and the terroir influence to develop fully, yet the strong identity of the wines indicates a singular self-determination that is immensely attractive to those searching how to establish their own individual wine culture.

As well as presenting the wines over the two days of the fair the growers will be hosting a traditional Georgian “Supra”, a banquet of many dishes, many wines, many toasts and hopefully, much spontaneous song!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

President Margvelashvili celebrates the qvevri wine culture tradition at Winery Khareba's "Tunnel"

27.02.2014. President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili has visited Georgia's famous wine-making city Kvareli in the Kakheti region, to celebrate international recognition of the ancient art of traditional wine-making.

The President attended a ceremony to mark the traditional Georgian method of making qvevri wine, approved by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage.

"We are proud of being at the edge of entering the Europe and augment the world civilization,” Margvelashvili said.

The wine event was organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Winery Khareba, a wine production company.  Winery Khareba's wine complex "Tunnel" was used as the venue for the event. Guests had an opportunity to attend the exhibition showing ancient Georgian wine vessel and photos.

The great wine tasting session was another big reason why guest flocked to Kavreli, as they were welcomed to the wine-tasting ceremony.

The event featured a documentary film about the qvevri wine-making method, shot by Georgian director Merab Kokochashvili.

ICC Georgia holds 5th Consultative Board

27.02.2014. Yesterday, 26 February 2014, the National Committee of ICC Georgia held its 5th Consultative Board meeting at The Holiday Inn in Tbilisi.  Mr. Fady Asly, Chairman of ICC, welcomed the members of the ICC Executive, ICC Youth, Consultative boards and special guests.  The program featured a presentation of DCFTA Implementation by Mr. Nikoloz Khundzakishvili, Chairman of the DCFTA Implementation Commission, and included an overview of the economy and investment climate from the perspectives of ICC (Mr. Fady Asly), Business Association Georgia (Dr. Soso Pkhakadze), American Chamber of Commerce in Georgia (Ms. Sarah Williamson), and the Georgian Bar Association (Mr. Zaza Bibliashvili).  Ms. Teona Lavrelashvili, Chairwoman of the Youth Parliament and ex officio, ICC board member, remarked on the highlights of her trip to the United Nations in New York and US State Department and Congress in Washington, D.C., partially organized by ICC Georgia. Following the presentations, the Consultative Board had the opportunity for questions and remarks.

Afterwards, a reception in honor of the Consultative Board was held with attendees including ICC youth members, partners from the business sector, distinguished guests and the diplomatic corps. The reception was opened by the Honorable Bruno Balvanera, Regional Director of the EBRD, who provided a summary of the ICC’s Consultative Board Meeting.  Mr. Fady Asly, Chairman of ICC Georgia introduced the newest Consultative Board member, H.E. Mr. Z. Levent Gümrükçü, Ambassador of Turkey.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The journey to the soul of wine

"Back To The Roots": Qvevri wines are in a category of their own – and they now have UNESCO World Heritage status.

by Thomas Brandl

25.02.2014. You will not find a bigger expert on winemaking in traditional amphorae, which are called qvevri in Georgia, anywhere else in the world: Giorgi Dakishvili is a degree-qualified oenologist who holds a doctorate in his favourite subject. "Wines from amphorae simply have more soul," explains the man, short in stature, whose friends call him Gogi, "but making them is a big challenge." If this challenge is mastered, however, it results in wines that are unforgettable and which are in a category of their very own: Wines that are characterised by tannin, with no pure culture yeasts or enzymes, filtration or sulphur, with a thick polyphenol structure, an orange colour and hints of spices, fine herbs, dry fruits and almonds. If the grapes and cellar sanitation are not first rate, however, the end result will quickly find its way into the vinegar jar ...

A tradition that celebrated its beginnings 8,000 years ago in the South Caucasus, today's Eastern Anatolia, is now happily making a comeback in Europe. An increasing number of daring vintners are going 'back to the roots'; some are experimenting with one or two Georgian Qvevris or Spanish Tinajas, while others have turned the full focus of their production to it. There can be no doubt that winemaking in amphorae is still a niche business, yet interest in it is quickly growing.

Monday, February 24, 2014

In search of a bit of Georgia in America

A broken qvevri stands guard... 
Photo: winetrailtraveler
24.02.2014. We spent the weekend searching for a bit of the country Georgia in America. We had to travel about three hours from central Maryland to central Virginia. We visited Castle Hill Cider and discovered an outdoor marani with several buried qvevri. The qvevri were different sizes and were produced in Georgia. One broke during transport and stands guard over the marani. Other pieces of the broken qvevri are in the tasting room. Staff use the broken pieces to show visitors the wax lining on the inside of the terra cotta qvevri.

Castle Hill Cider in Keswick, Virginia may be the only cidery in the world that makes a cider in a qvevri. Pippin apples are crushed and just the juice is placed in the qvevri to ferment. The cider remains in qvevri for a few months. The name of the cider is Levity and it has a light yellow color. There is apple on the aroma and taste, but it is less pronounced than other ciders not made in qvevri. We noticed that the Levity was more complex than the other ciders. There were also hints of honey on the aroma and taste and some minerality on the finish. Stuart Madany, production manager, is investigating using more tannic apples in the future.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sales of Georgian wine in Ukraine decreased

21.02.2014. The wine companies surveyed by Georgian Commersant FM radio station are talking about the decline of sales in Ukraine in light of developments in this country.

Badagoni's director Gia Shengelia says that the processes taking place in Ukraine have not yet been reflected in trade relations between Georgia and Ukraine but notes that 90% of restaurants and supermarkets stopped work, causing a significant decline in sales.

Shengelia adds that if wine supply to Ukraine faces problems, it will reduce the company's sales, but so far the trade partner of  Badagoni in Ukraine implements wine import according to the schedule. A share of the company's exports in Ukraine achieved 15-25% of the total export.

Telavi Wine Cellar also confirms the decrease in wine sales in Ukraine. According to Zurab Ramazashvili, chairman of the company’s supervisory board, their partner company in Ukraine informs about the sales decline. But problems with the supply of wine have not been created yet. Ramazashvili adds that Ukraine is one of the largest trading partners where 20-25% of the total export are sold.

© Hvino News       |  DRINK GEORGIAN!

Making Italian wine with a Georgian accent

by Yigal Schleifer

22.02.2014. Carlo Catani, an activist with the Slow Food movement, was at a wine show in Italy two years ago tasting some bottles from Georgia when an idea struck him: what if he were able to convince Italian winemakers to make wine using the traditional Georgian method of fermenting it in large clay vessels known as kvevri?

The initial idea was something of a joke, says Catani, who works on promoting wine culture in his native region of Romagna. But the more he thought about it, the more intrigued he was about the idea. “We talked to some producers in our region, and 15 of them agreed to try doing it. Our goal was to help spread Georgian wine culture, but another goal was to get the producers to collaborate among themselves, which was something they usually didn’t do. This was the only way they could make this kind of wine in a good way,” Catani says.

And so was born what is still an ongoing experiment – to make Italian wine with a Georgian accent (or is it Georgian wine with an Italian accent)?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Georgian supra during Real Wine Fair in London

21.02.2014. The Real Wine Fair is delighted to announce that it will be holding a traditional Georgian Supra, a celebration of Georgian wine, gastronomy and culture, at its pop-up restaurant, The Unfiltered Dog on Monday 14th April 2014.

The banquet will be prepared by Georgian chef Giorgi Rokashvili and will feature a range of speciality Georgian dishes such as red beans with wild thyme, oyster mushrooms with tarragon and green plum sauce, chicken livers with caramelized onions and white wine, lamb chanakhi and churchkhela with honeycomb.

Wines from the twelve Georgian growers and winemakers attending the fair will be copiously poured, and the feast will be punctuated with many toasts made by the tamada (the ceremonial host for the evening) and traditional songs.

Tickets for the dinner will cost £55 per person and will shortly be available to purchase.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Grape processing plant to be built in Kutaisi FIZ

20.02.2014 (Hvino News). According to Georgian Commersant FM,  Georgian and Egyptian investors will build a new grape processing plant in the Kutaisi free industrial zone (FIZ). Currently six Egyptian companies are operating in the Kutaisi FIZ.

According to the manager of the industrial zone, the investors have already bought 30 acres of vineyards in the region. Mikheil Tigishvili says that the construction of the plant is underway, where the grapes harvested at the company-owned vineyards will be processed. The project envisages an investment of 2 million USD. Rkatsiteli and Sapervavi wines will be exported to other countries.

© Hvino News       |  DRINK GEORGIAN!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Georgia’s qvevri wine trending in America

by Tamar Khurtsia

19.02.2014. A new trend is emerging in America – to drink orange wine, which is a special Georgian ghvino variation. Georgian woman Vera Person Sagareishvili, who is the managing director of Corporate Accounts at Panorama Travel (a New York-based travel agency), believes more Americans could enjoy Georgia’s Qvevri wine but the product needs to promote this most cherished wine-making method among them.

Pearson Sagareishvili emigrated to the United States of America 18 years ago. Within her role with Panorama Travel, she closely works with the Georgian National Tourism Administration (GNTA), a Governmental body responsible to develop tourism and attract American tourists to Georgia.

Agenda.ge interviewed Vera Pearson Sagareishvili and asked her about Georgia’s developing hospitality sector, the major challenges within the industry, the characteristics of American travelers and what attracts them to Georgia.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

International wine tourism conference has its sights set on Georgia, Sakartvelo

by Terry Sullivan

Wine tourism is becoming more defined as people become aware of the vast number of wine regions throughout the world. Even with this increased perception amongst wine travelers, it is not uncommon to hear, “I didn’t know they made wine there.” I’ve heard this many times about the country Georgia, the site for the sixth International Wine Tourism Conference (IWINETC). The conference takes place in Tbilisi March 29th and 30th. Why would an international conference choose a country to host an event that many people do not even know where it is located?

The country Georgia is an obvious choice for a wine tourism conference. Many people who drink wine will at least occasionally think about the wine, the grapes, the producer, the vineyards, the wine region and perhaps the history of the region. Some may observe the wine in a glass and ponder, “Where was wine first made?” The answer lies in the country Georgia. Wine has been continuously produced in Georgia for 8,000 years. That is thousands of years before wines were produced in Greece, Italy and France. Grapes were cultivated in Georgia for thousands of years. The country has a most impressive wine history. What does it offer wine tourists?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The rebirth of seriously good Georgian wines

15.02.2014. You wouldn’t have thought but just a few hours from Sochi one of the world’s great wine regions is starting to produce seriously good juice again. Jordan Salcito on the Georgian wine revival.

The Republic of Georgia is a mere 260 miles south of Sochi, along the Black Sea. That’s slightly longer than the distance from New York to Boston – a stone’s throw, especially by Russian standards. Despite the proximity, Olympians and Sochi tourists are unlikely to be drinking much Georgian wine this winter. Until last year, they couldn’t even buy it, under a seven-year Russian ban on Georgian wines.

Georgia’s wine industry has taken some rough blows. Phylloxera struck in the late 19th century, and in the 20th century, Soviet winemaking mandates encouraged quantity above quality. Gorbachev’s anti-alcohol campaign in the late 1980s obliterated a great deal of vineyard area (though, as Jancis Robinson notes in The Oxford Companion to Wine, mainly state vineyards suffered as “no Georgian farmer would be willing to pull out his own vines”). In 2006, Russia imposed an embargo on Georgian agricultural products, including wine. Russia’s chief health inspector, Gennady Onishchenko, claimed they were contaminated with heavy metals and pesticides. Until the embargo, Russia purchased roughly more than 80% of Georgia’s wine production.