British wine trade and press are hosted in Georgia
The #GeorgianWineUK team took a group of British wine buyers and journalists to Georgia last week. On the trip, hosted by the National Wine Agency of Georgia, were consultants and restaurateurs Martin Lam and Kate Hawkings, journalists Emma Diggory and David Williams, photographer Miles Willis, and Sarah Abbott MW and Madeleine Waters of Georgian Wine UK.
An introduction to contemporary Georgian wine, and ancient culture
The itinerary introduced our guests to the diversity and quality of contemporary Georgian wine. We visited wineries and met with producers from all sectors, from small family vineyards to large, historic wineries. In addition to the winery visits, guests were introduced to the richness of Georgian wine culture. We spent time in Tbilisi, visiting restaurants, wine bars, churches, and beautiful public sculptures and spaces, under the expert and engaging guidance of cultural expert Maka Tarashvili.
We started the visit with a presentation by Georgian enologist, Lado Uzunashvili Lado has worked around the world, from Georgia to Australia, and has both a national and international perspective on Georgian wine. (He now makes his own wine at his own estate, Mukado.) The presentation covered Georgian wine history, grape varieties, regions and winemaking techniques, including the long history of both Qvevri and ‘European’ winemaking processes in Georgia.
Guests tasted a wide range Georgian wines in a ‘walk around’ tasting, and over many great dinners. Wines included white, red and rosé, in Qvevri and conventional styles, from Lagvinari, Teliani Valley, Badagoni, Gotsa Family Wines, Vaziani, Kakhuri Gvinis Marani, Château Mukhrani, Maranuli, Zurab Topuridze, Matrobela, and Tsinandali Estate.
Visiting vineyards and meeting makers
Over the next 3 days, we visited producers across Kakheti, Georgia’s largest wine region. We tasted scores of wines, experienced fabulous Georgian hospitality and blossoming enotourism, and asked many questions of Georgia’s expert and refreshingly open winemakers. Delegates met owners and winemakers at Marani, GWS, Teleda (Vita Vinea), Papari Valley, Satsnakheli (Tchotiashvili Family Vineyards), Pheasant’s Tears, and Alaverdi Monastery. Guests also met with senior figures from the National Wine agency including its Director, Giorgi Samanishvili, and Marketing Director, Irakli Cholobargia.
A taste of Georgia’s booming gastronomy and hospitality
Restaurants Barbarestan, Bina 37, and Crazy Pomegranate were world-class ambassadors for Georgia’s increasingly acclaimed and recognised cuisine. The slick but friendly Biltmore Hotel was a glamorous space in which to recharge, feast at breakfast, and take in the electric views of Tbilisi. Quirky, arty Château Mere at Telavi was a home from home in vineyard country. We woke to the sun rising and birds circling over vineyards and the brooding Caucasus.
In the words of our guests:
“A quick note to say thank you for a most enjoyable, and hugely educational & enlightening visit to Georgia…I am still trying to digest all the information-regions, sub regions, grape varieties, place names etc.” Martin Lam, Wine Buying Consultant to the UK trade.
“Just wanted to say a huge thank you for hosting such a memorable and inspiring trip. It was a huge privilege to be a part of and I am honoured to have been on this inaugural UK trip. Your infectious enthusiasm, knowledge and generosity throughout is so much appreciated. I know how much time and effort goes into making these things happen and you did it with such grace and humour and style. We’ll keep you posted about coverage on the-buyer.net” Emma Diggory, journalist at The Buyer.
“What a fabulous trip to a fabulous place! Sarah, Madeleine many, many thanks for being such wonderful hosts. I could see that a lot of thought, care and attention had gone into the itinerary. I’ll be in touch with a few queries when I start writing.” David Williams, journalist and columnist.
“This trip was such an eye-opener for me. I’m fairly well acquainted with the new wave of Georgian wines that have been appearing over recent years. Many of them I love, but I know they can be a bit too wild for more conservative tastes. We saw so much good winemaking in Georgia, not only some fabulously characterful but pristine qvevri wines but also those made more conventionally in forward-thinking wineries who are paying close attention to detail when it comes to quality. The Georgian winemaking industry seems to be a bright future, both for niche qvevri wines and those made in more commercial styles. I love so many of the more extreme qvevri wines for my own drinking; speaking as a restaurateur, I’ll be keeping a particular eye on the more approachable (and less costly) wines coming onto the market that still carry Georgia’s distinctive character.” Kate Hawkings, Restaurateur, Wine Writer and Consultant.
For more information on Georgian wine promotions, trips and opportunities for UK wine buyers and communicators, please contact us on [email protected].