Georgian wine continues to strengthen in the UK, with key importers adding Georgian wine to their portfolio.
Naked Wines launched family winery “Pi” in Spring 2022, and quickly sold out of their Saperavi. Buying Director, Ray O’Connor MW, re-ordered and added two further Georgian producers in response to customer feedback and demand. He observes that customers respond to the personal and emotional connection that Georgians have with wine:
I was very keen that both Teona and Levan [of Winery Pi] would join our 10 days Tasting Tour in the UK in June as I knew their personality would resonate with not only our Angels but also the other winemakers who they would be sharing a bus with travelling around the country. They were a big hit. They brought lots of materials to put on their table and theirs was one of the first you saw when you walked in, so Georgia was front of mind for everyone. I loved that!
Pi’s rich, inky Kakhetian Saperavi is a benchmark, and it is fascinating to read the reactions of Naked’s customers to this unfamiliar yet historic variety. Naked have gone on to finance Winery Pi’s purchase of equipment so that the winery can invest in wine production, so positive was their customer response.
Naked’s latest Georgian wineries are located in the cooler western regions of Georgia, Imereti and Racha. David Chachanidze’s small Solomone winery is in Imereti, and specialises in local varieties. O’Connor worked with David to create an amber-influenced wine for Naked Wine that highlights the zippy style typical of Imereti. Solomone’s wine comprises 20% amber qvevri wine blended with 80% conventional white wine and is, says O’Connor, “a perfect steppingstone for our customers to appreciate amber qvevri wines”.
Naked’s third Georgian producer is the young winemaker Luka Beshidze, whose “Ancient Valley Wines” is in the highland region of Racha. O’Conner is expecting the fresh and aromatic white Mtsvane and red Aleksandrouli to arrive at the end of September. Wines will sell at £9.99 and £10.99 for Angels.
Top Italian specialist Astrum Cellars have expanded their portfolio with a fine selection from Central Europe, and are working with Tiko Estate in Georgia, a boutique winery run by a family of winemakers with international experience. Their pure, refined wines are now listed in the prestige on-trade, including at The Fat Duck, Bray.
And buying collective The Merchant Vintners, whose members comprise over 30 regional wholesalers across the UK, is finalising a selection of Georgian wine sourced from GWS, one of Georgia’s most dynamic large wineries.