Meet Giorgi Samanishvili, Chairman of the National Wine Agency of Georgia.
He was my introduction to the wines from the country of Georgia, located between the Black Sea and the Caucasus- a rather small country that is home to ‘8000Vintages.’.
Georgia, for those of us in the wine world is known for wines that ferment the traditional way-in a Qvevri-a 1000 liter, beeswax coated terra cotta jug that has been buried into the earth. The wines from this method versus oak barrels or stainless steel are more assertive wines and more intense in color. Red wines are often closer to black in color, while white wines are a dark amber.
Wine was born in Georgia, according to Mr. Samanishvili. The qvervi jugs that most households in the ten wine regions of Georgia that make up this small country are home to the 30-40 more common grapes that used in the qvevri, from the possible 500 indigenous grapes that thrive in this country.
Soil types vary, as do water sources. Georgia has over 1000 rivers and an equal amount of wine producers. The average vineyard is about three acres, where more white wine is produced then red.
The new breed of winemakers vineyards are medium in size and focus on small production. Half of the wine that is produced is exported. Georgia’s moderate climate and moist air are ideal conditions for the varietals to thrive.
I was overwhelmed by the wines of Georgia that I sampled. The red ‘Saperavi’ grape is the most influential red grape used in winemaking,while the Mtsvani and Rkatsiteli are the top white grapes.
The Georgia people have their own alphabet and language. As I explore the wines from Georgia, in the near future, I hope to share some of the new language of Georgia with you.
Philip S. Kampe