August 19, 2015
Region of the Week: Georgia
For today’s region of the week, we decided to discover the wines of Georgia… but not that Georgia. We’re not talking about our southeastern state here, but about the Eurasian country, at the crossroads of Asia and Europe. Georgia is one of the world’s oldest winemaking regions, with over 6,000 years of viticulture history – and yet, its popularity stops at the borders of the former USSR. Scroll down to learn why Georgia is a true hidden gem!
Georgia and its grapes
Located between the Black Sea and Caucus Mountains, bordered by Russia, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Armenia, the small country is characterized by a wide and diverse range of climates, from temperate to sub-tropical. This makes it a particularly interesting region for winemaking – which Georgians have understood! Grapevines are grown almost all over the country, but the most significant region for winemaking is Kakheti, which produces 70% of Georgian wine.
Over 500 different grape varieties are grown in Georgia, but the most popular are the red saperavi and the rkatsiteli for the whites. The former is used to make two of the most popular wines of the region, the semi-sweet Kindzmarauli and the dry Mukuzani. Other indigenous varietals include Kakhuri, Alexandrouli, Aladsturi, Keduretuli, Ojaleshi, and Usakhelouri for reds and Chinuri, Mtsvani, Tetra, Tsitska, and Tsolikouri when it comes to whites. But its grapes are not only what makes Georgia so unique – its traditional winemaking technique, specific to the region, gives stability and complexity to its wines. The winemaking process – from fermentation to aging – takes place in what is called a qvevri, which is a big clay pot lined with beeswax and sunk into the ground.
This is one of the many things that make Georgian wines so fascinating today, although that was not always the case. For years, political issues had a damaging effect on the wine industry, but the last decade proved to be quite successful for the country, as winemakers have started reaching out to international markets, and Georgia’s wines is slowly gaining reputation among sommeliers and wine aficionados.
Where to taste?
Pheasant’s Tears – The family-owned winery has been mastering the traditional Georgian winemaking process for 8 generations now, and offers a wide range of wines and tours.
Telavi Wine Cellar– Established in 1915, the winery has strived ever since to deliver high-quality wines, with their 450 hectares of land. The tasting room offers a variety of unique Georgian reds and whites.
Where to stay?
Chateau Mere is seen as many as a hidden gem in Georgia’s Kakheti. Located at the very heart of the wine region, staying at this castle is the opportunity to discover the unique winemaking techniques of Georgia, and discuss the country’s wines with the owners. To sip on a local red while looking at the Caucasus Mountains, Chateau Mere is the place to go!