Enjoy Georgian Wine this Christmas

Georgian Wine SocietyThis week I came across a very exciting website, The Georgian Wine Society, which helps supply British consumers with the best Georgian wines.

It is widely believed that it was Georgia in which wine production first began, over 7000 years ago, with archaeological remains suggesting that grape juice was placed underground in clay jars to ferment during winter as early as 4000 BC.

Georgia is a land famed for its natural bounty. These days there are over 500 species of grape in Georgia, a greater diversity than anywhere else in the world, with around 40 of these grape varieties being used in commercial wine production. Conditions are well suited for viticulture: summers are rarely excessively hot, winters are mild and frost-free. In addition, the mountains around the vineyards are full of natural springs, and rivers drain mineral-rich waters into the valleys. All this means that Georgian wines have a reputation for being exceptionally pure.

Around 150 million litres of wine are produced each year in Georgia, with around 45 000 hectares of vineyards under cultivation. There are 18 Specific Viticulture Areas (a local analogy of the Controlled Appellations of Origin) where the grape variety, planting density and yield per hectare is controlled by Ministry of Agriculture, and where the grape yield per hectare is limited to 8 tons.

Georgia’s wines fall into several zones: Kakheti and Kartli in the east, and Imereti, Samegrelo, Guria, Ajaria, and Abkhazia in the west. By far the most important of these is Kakheti, which produces 70% of all Georgian wine.  The wines available from the Georgian Wine Society are sourced from four of the best and most progressive Georgian vineyards:

  • Teliani Valley Winery established in 1997 in Tsinandali in the heart of Kakheti, and is the modern successor to a winery built for the Russian Romanovs in the 1880s; In 2004, a brand new winery was completed, and new vineyards were planted in each of Georgia’s best micro zones.  Teliani Valley won a major award as Georgia’s best medium-sized enterprise in 2005 and has set up the country’s first school for sommeliers;
  • Tbilvino Winery was first established in 1962.  It was privatised in 1995 and a new management team took over in 1999.  The winery has a young local team of winemakers who have benefited from working with several consultants from Australia and Italy, giving an exciting balance of both new and old world perspectives;
  • The Telavi Wine Cellar was founded in 1915, and combines the best of Georgian tradition with a modern outlook. Australian winemaker David Morrison has been consulting here since 1998, bringing state of the art techniques to enhance rather than overwhelm Georgia’s unique wine heritage.  The winery was transformed and totally re-equipped in 1997 and now owns 450 hectares of its own vineyards in the Alazani Valley in the heart of Kakheti.  The vineyard overlooks the Alazani River, and is shielded by the Caucasus Mountains. Telavi uses the brand name “Marani” for its wines – which means a small wooden wine cellar in Georgian.
  • Orovela’s 40 hectare Chandrebi Estate is located on the right bank of the Alazani River, near the village of Ikalto in Kakheti. It has 35 Hectares of Saperavi grape, and 5 Hectares of Mtsvane. Like the Telavi Wine Cellar it is bordered on the north by the Caucasus Mountains, and also on the south by the Tsiv Gombori Mountain range, meaning the microclimate is characterized by hot summers and mild winters.  The vineyard was acquired in 2001 and replanted and reworked, the Chandrebi area being selected as the area is cooler and drier then other parts of Kakheti region.  During the growing season and harvesting period the temperature is kept low by mountain air from the Caucasus. Grapes from the vineyard go through numerous tests for quality, and the resulting Saperavi has been gaining international praise. At the forefront of the new drive for quality in Georgian wines, Orovela gives an exciting glimpse of Georgia’s wine future.

Those with an active social conscious will be pleased to know 10% of all The Georgian Wine Society’s profits go towards helping Everychild’s childcare programs in Georgia.  To read more about the good work Everychild does visit www.everychild.org.uk

To contact the Georgian Wine Society visit georgianwinesociety.co.uk, telephone 0800 098 8243 or write to:

The Georgian Wine Society
16 Binsey Lane
Oxford
OX2 OEX

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About Charlotte J

Graduate, journalist, blogger and follower of all things media.