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Vulgar display of power: Georgia part 2

by Magnus Reuterdahl

What has wine, Georgia and Heavy Metal in common?  – Maybe not that much, then again quite a lot, let me explain. The experience of wine is like the experience of music – it is something that affect your mind and soul, ie your state of mind. Georgian wine could in one way be said to be like a vulgar display of power, though not vulgar in a bad way, but as a statement – qvevri wine is such a different wine, made in a different way, with such a uniuqe expression that it is like an explosion, at least flavorwise in my mouth  Music was also a part of the Georgian experience, not this type of music, but still music. And as Panteras brute force woke me up and got me to find the really heavy side of heavy metal, qvevri wine has opened up a new horizon of wine experiences – so there are a few connections.

This song, Rise from the album Vulgar display of power (1992), has no connection to the subject of wine or Georgia but then again you can always make it work, by using it in a different way:

We’ve got no time to lose

Your news is old news

Hate this, hate me, hate this

Right approach for the wrong

It’s time to spread the word

Let the voice be heard…

Lets spread the word of Georgian wines, its old news, as its a very old way of making wine, let the voice be heard: We love Georgian wine!

With that lets turn to another visit, to Schuchmann/Vinoterra winery in Kisiskhevi.

At the winery winemaker Giorgi Dakishvili met us and gave us a tour and a tasting. The winery is owned by a Burkhard Schuchmann from Germany. The winery owns several vineyards in Kisiskhevi, Napareuli and Shilda, all in the Kakheti provins.

The wines made by the European method is sold under by the Schuchmann label and the qvevri wines by the Vinoterra label.

The winery is set in Kisiskhevi where they make ca 400’000 bottles each year. The qvevri wine are made in amphoras dug down in the earth. The qvevris holds 500-3000 litres, the size of the qvevri will affect the wine as the temperature will differ. The smaller ones makes the wines more fruity and the bigger ones more body, by mixing wines from different qvevris you can make sure they are balanced the way you want (Regarding mixing wines from different qvevris, I hope I got it right – if you know please leave a comment).

When making qvevri wine you put the grapes in the qvevri with skins and seed and sometimes stems. The wines are made by using the wild yeast, and sometimes a little sulfur after the malolactic fermentation. After this the qvevri is closed by a stone lid, clay and sand and opend after six months.

The qvevris are The first time you dig down a qvevri the walls are sealed with beeswax. After every fermentation they are cleaned with lime and a brush made from the bark of the cherry tree.

The wines:

Vinoterra Rkatsiteli 2011 (qvevri)

This is one of my favorites from this journey, a big yet mellow wine, with lots of dried fruit, apples, apricot, orange zest, nuts, a little butter scotch and fantastic tannins. It has some qualities that you find in wines from Jura and in French cider and in Calvados, its part a white wine and in structure red – its a wine to contemplate over and to enjoy. It’s still young and I would love to store this for a few years, later on we got to taste a 2004 that showed that this wine will thrive in storage.

Drink to grilled fish (salmon etc), chicken, duck, cheeses. I had it to our Swedish Christmas lunch which worked like a charm.

Vinoterra Kisi 2011 (qvevri)

This has a little bit more edge than the above, something in the nose almost goes towards a Macallan, that elegant nutiness.

Its more heavy on the tannins, and besides dried fruit there is also some exotic fruits, almonds and a light oxidized note. Elegant, well balanced and on the spot. Love it.

Vinoterra Mtsvane 2008 (qvevri)

This in turn is a little lighter with some white flowers and and an oakiness (though it’s no oak) to it, soft tannins. There is also dried fruits and nuts and it tends to be a little sweeter and perhaps a little more laid back. There is something in the flavor that is reminiscent to sherry. Very good but falls a little behind the previous two.

Schuchmann Mtsvane 2011

This is young, possibly a bit to young, and its difficult to judge after the powerful qvevri wines. It has a sauvignon blanc quality, flowers, some aromatics, fresh really nice acidity.

Vinoterra Saperavi 2009 (qvevri)

Now this I love, its lush, its young, its full of red and blue fruit, its got flowers, some violets and sweet licorice and spice mixed with fantastic tannins – this wine screams for a steak! Love it!

Vinoterra cabernet sauvignon Katheti style 2008

Not my cup of tea, it got all the flavors but its a little to big and in a blind tasting I would put this down as a new world parker style wine; big, bulky and a little jammy.

Schuchmann M1 2008

The wine is made on 50 % saperavi, 40 % cabernet sauvignon and 10 % Merlot.

Now this is a nice wine that would be difficult to place, its in a way quite fresh but then again there is something more new world in it as well mixed with herbs that are Georgian. A fun little thing that would be a great everyday wine – smooth, well balanced, international with a Georgian twist.

There is more to come!

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May 2023