10th June 2019
Georgia is not a country that comes to mind when discussing great wine making nations, however, this is beginning to change. Georgian wine is fast becoming known in wine circles and bottles can be found for sale in the UK and America.
We visited a family-run vineyard in the Kakhetian wine region of eastern Georgia - Jimsheladze Winery. Our host, Beka, oozed passion for Georgian wine as he described the unique fermentation process he, and many in Georgia, use. The grapes are pressed, and the juice, skins, pips and stalks are put in a Kvevri (large clay pot) and buried underground to ferment for around six months.
Beka has attended the artisan wine fair in London two years running to improve his business connections and help put Georgian wine on the map. The first year he attended most people who came to his stand asked where Georgia was. A year later most people coming to his stand knew the intricacies of the Georgian wine making process.
His beautiful stone building, where we did our tasting, could have been in Italy or France but was nestled in the Georgian countryside, which we accessed on foot at it was too rocky for our vehicle. We tasted his ‘Amber wine’ which tasted more like a cross between wine and spirit, not surprising considering it was 14% alcohol content.
But the real highlight was the red wine, although maybe I’m biased being a red wine lover. Some of the group bought a bottle to enjoy later that evening and we’ve all been enjoying the wine as we travel through Georgia from the semi-arid desert of the South to the Greater Caucus mountain range of the north. It’s the food, drink and hospitality that bring people to Georgia as much as the mountains and monasteries. We’re halfway through our tour and I write this from Gudauri as we turn our backs to the mountains and head south to explore the ancient capital of Mtskheta.
I would try describing the red wine but I’m not much of a connoisseur, so next time you’re shopping for a bottle and notice a Georgian wine, pick it up and give it a try to support their growing industry. Or better still, go and visit Georgia and the Kakheti wine region