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"Georgian Wine Guide 2014" - tradition uninterrupted

by Nana Kobaidze

Last week the National Library of Georgia hosted the presentation of the new, 2014 edition of the book, "Georgian Wine Guide." It's been three years since Malkhaz Kharbedia, the author of the joint edition of the magazines, "Tskheli Shokoladi" and "Wine Club," keeps his diligence to fill the gaps in the field and provides the wine lovers and wine specialists with very interesting and necessary publications.    

The consumers of the Georgian wine have become very lazy and their taste has abated as a result of undesirable and inapt situation reigning in the course of many years, in Georgia. The generation of our fathers who were accustomed consumers of N8 wine, Khvanchkara and Saperavi, was  replaced by the generation of “sons,” who grew up on the wine stored in plastic vessels. In other words, the quality wine was a real luxury for this generation of the 1990s.

However, things have changed a lot during the country’s new developmental stage. Everything happens for a reason, thus, losing the huge Russian market made the Georgian wine producers consider the competitive side and pay attention to the quality and the diversity of Georgian wine. We got closer to the European values as a result of globalization and the Internet connection and that also gave rise to the European approach towards the wine. In other words, the right consumption of wine, i.e. tasting a glass of wine, pairing it with various dishes, digging into the character and different flavors of, it became a lifestyle for a specific group of consumers.

Usually, wine lovers and enthusiasts worldwide join wine clubs and similar unions, where they get to meet with each other, taste new wines, improve their skills in the field and enjoy the environment in general. Oddly enough, there are only few such unions in Georgia, in the cradle of wine. Although many Georgian families make wine, education level in this field is still very low. A simple questionnaire that has been conducted suggests that the majority of the population knows very little about the names of local PDO’s (Protected Designation of Origin). For example, some of them think that Khvanchkara and Mukuzani are grape varieties. "Georgian Wine Guide" is therefore a good source of information for such people and other interested individuals as well.

"This is the edition which includes a detailed information regarding winemaking - the history of the Georgian wine, the regions, the species and PDO’s. In addition to this, the book contains a description of the characteristics of those wines to which, in my opinion, should be paid a particular attention." - says the author of the book.

As stated in the introduction of the book, "it is very pleasing that publishing of the book has become a tradition now. We may say that it is an annual publication reporting the wine-related news and events of the previous year.”

The loyal readers and supporters of the book gathered at the presentation. "It's been a third year already I'm catching up with the book, which is becoming more and more complex and explicit year after year. I would like to admit the latest edition is a standout among the rest as it includes a full, accurate information about the past and the present of the Georgian wine. The book should definitely attract both, Georgian and foreign readers" - says Mikheil Alkhanishvili, who has been a devoted reader of the book from the day of its very first publication.

Thus, the book will be a good guide for those seeking information about Georgian wine. It has been printed in two languages, Georgian and English, targeting both, Georgian as well as foreign readers. Also, the book includes a special subchapter for those who are interested in wine tourism. One can find a list of 75 large or small wine companies, monastery and family cellars, wine guest houses/wineries, wine shops and restaurants. Some of them fully satisfy the wine tourism requirements, some are taking their first steps in the field. Nevertheless, Georgian Wine Guide provides its readers with general perspective on the subject as it comprises relevant information about wine, references as well as different contacts for further information.   

One of the important parts of the book is a map section, which is more developed and informative than the ones of the earlier editions. "It was Malkhaz's idea. We had small-scale maps in previous editions, which only included areas of viticulture, places of origin, winemaking locations and major species. This year, information has been refined, renewed and expanded as the second page has been added to the map. As a result, you can see a detailed topographic map of all 18 PDO’s," - says Zaza Gagua, a representative of the "EcoTourism Development Center", who has been working on the book as well.

This cartographic work is related to specific difficulties. One has to search, confirm and collect an information from various sources. Unfortunately, there is no detailed information available about the areas of viticulture in Georgia. There is only a general information about the areas of winegrowing. National Wine Agency has already begun to keep the cadastre of the vineyards throughout Georgia and if the process is finished until the next year, Georgian Wine Guide 2015 will include a detailed information of a map outlining the country’s vineyards.

In addition to this, the series of "Wine Infographics" are planned to be issued with the maps illustrating Georgian wine regions. Imereti map has already been published which will be followed by Kakheti and other regions.

The next joint project of "Wine Club' and "EcoTourism Development Center" refers to the wine tourism. The plan is to create large-scale maps outlining the micro zones. Finally, they aim at  creating an atlas of the Georgian wine, owned by almost every wine country of the world, except us. We hope that this initiative will be realized very soon.

New "Georgian Wine Guide" is on the cutting-edge in many ways: According to the author, almost 70% of the 360-page book has been updated and only the historic overview has been reprinted. The chapters describing the regirions now include the details about soils, climate and winemaking techniques. New subchapters have been born. For example, a particular subchapter is dedicated to the names of PDO-s delivering a detailed information about specific micro zones, their soil, climate, vitis species, winemaking methods and historical backgrounds. 

The individuals who are willing to expand their knowledge and awareness of winemaking in Georgia are given the opportunity to get themselves introduced to the author's viewpoints regarding the existing condition of the Georgian wine, to read the previous year’s chronicles as well as take a look at the 2013 harvest reviews across the country and at the awards won by various Georgian wine companies. Furthermore, there is a subchapter in the book offering wine descriptions starting from Qvevri wines to various white, red and rosé wines.

2013 year has been a special one for Georgian Qvevri Wine as the ancient tradition of Qvevri winemaking has been recognized by UNESCO as a significant intangible cultural heritage. During recent years, the local winemakers have  revived the tradition of Qvevri winemaking. While first edition  of the book contains the descriptions of only 21 Qvevri wines, all of them from the Kakheti region, the latest edition incorporates the tasting notes of about 50 Qvevri wines that have been produced in Imereti and Guria regions too. As to the rest of the wines, we have tasting notes for 81 various samples (white dry - 29, sparkling - 3, white semisweet / semidry - 3, white sweet - 1, Rosé - 7, red dry - 31, red semidry - 7) and wine and food pairings. The author introduces several interesting examples of Chacha and Georgian brand. 

This section of the book should be of special interest to the wine business representatives since the book reports on the condition of Georgian wine industry, compares the current data to the one of previous years and analyzes it. "Winemaking is quite a large and complex field, thus, having a good amount of right information is extremely important. "Georgian Wine Guide" is the only publication that educates and provides readers with the information about the country’s very best wines while describing their characteristics and features. Therefore, I do think that this book will become a reference book for those involved in the field" - says Alex Baduashvili, a chief wine consultant of "Château Mukhrani." We hope that the "Georgian Wine Guide 2014" will guide not only the field specialists but also those who admire the Georgian wine and  show their interest while believing in the future of it.

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May 2019