I’m a huge fan of Georgian qvevri wines – that’s to say, wines made in the 8,000 year old traditional manner, where grapes, skins and sometimes stems are piled into a 500 – 2,000 litre clay amphora-like vessel, buried up to its neck in the ground.
The challenge has always been how to get hold of them. A tiny amount is imported into the UK, even less to the Netherlands where I currently reside. And what little there is often ends up languishing on restaurant lists, as it’s mostly too pricey to be easily sold in shops.
But times are changing, awareness of the wines seems to be increasing (admitedly from a very low base), and one adventurous Dutch wine merchant “Andere Wijn” has hugely expanded their Georgian range.
Damijan Podversic’s decision in 1999 to reject his conventional winemaking education, in favour of a more “back to the roots” style, did not sit well with his dad who denied him usage of the family’s ancestral cellar. Since then he’s developed an impressive and tradition style of skin macerated white wines, following in the footsteps of Josko Gravner.
Tbilvino is based in western Georgia’s Kakheti – the country’s most important wine region. A product of the modern age, Tbilvino was conceived in a post-communist world – their first commercial vintage was 1999. They’re pretty successful, producing around 3 million bottles a year, most of which are sold to Russia, other ex-soviet countries and China – well established markets for Georgian wine.
Since 2010, Tbilvino markets a small range of wines made in qvevri – currently a Rkatsiteli and a Saperavi, with a Kisi just about to be released. The “Qvevris” Rkatsiteli has made it onto the shelves of Marks and Spencer at the bargain price of £10, in an M&S branded guise.
I’m not sure that I have heroes anymore – and those I once had were certainly not wine writers. That said, if I did, and if they were, Hugh Johnson OBE would be a candidate. Several of his books are on my shelf, and his writings have accompanied my entire journey into wine over the last 25 […]
A year living in the small Austrian town of Eisenstadt developed my considerable love not just for one of its natives, but also for the restrained and elegant wines. The issue? Availability of many of the greatest wines is pretty sparse, or even non-existent outside Austria itself. Inevitably, if a restaurant in London or Amsterdam lists […]
It’s a great joy to finally discover a true “orange wine” that retails (just) under the €10 mark (in the Netherlands). Poggio Argentiera’s “Ansonica Bucce” is that wine.
Inzolia fermented on the skins and aged in cement.
The Morning Claret has been a little sparse with blogging lately – holidaying in South Africa was the focus of a two glorious weeks. Part of that was of course about wine discovery, and there’s plenty to discover in the huge and diverse Cape winelands. Like Johan Meyer and his Mount Abora project!
The message from Menti, a small family estate in Northern Italy’s Veneto, has a clear intent – these wines are strong, characterful and rather distinct from the usual light, fruity fare that one would expect. Monte del Cuca is a 100% Garganega feremented on its skins for 22 days.
Right now, amphoras are hip. So is minimal intervention, and extended skin contact for white wines. Diane Iannaccone and Mario Basco of “I Cacciagalli” in Campania do all three, so that makes them super-on trend. Any thoughts that they might be bandwagon jumpers were banished with one taste of their “orange” Fiano, “Zagreo”. It’s an exceptional wine, produced by people who know exactly what they are doing.
This is Grüner Veltliner, but not as you know it. Martin Diwald fermented it in open plastic tubs, on its skins for 7 days. The result – Zündstoff – was destined for a blend, but turned out to be so delicious that it’s been bottled in its own right.