Adam Lechmere writes about October’s Georgian Wine Festival for the Academie du Vin online magazine. This specialist wine publisher has recently launched Miguel Hudin’s comprehensive guide to Georgian wine. Lechmere’s article explores how in the verdant hills of Georgia, a land steeped in the annals of viticulture, the world’s oldest wine culture is experiencing a renaissance. With a history extending back 8,000 years, Georgian wine culture is a tapestry woven with the strands of tradition, resilience, and the love of the craft, as this recent press coverage explains.
Georgia: A Tapestry of Vine and History
The cradle of viticulture, Georgia, has long held the fascination of UK wine connoisseurs and is now enchanting a broader demographic. The rediscovery of this Eden for wine lovers has been captured in the pages of Miquel Hudin’s book, “Georgia, A Guide to the Cradle of Wine,” which found the spotlight during the Georgian Wine Festival at Dartington Hall.
The Festival: A Celebration of Heritage and Wine
The festival, orchestrated by wine masters Sarah Abbott and Justin Howard-Sneyd, was more than a showcase; it was an immersive cultural journey. Visitors actively engaged in the richness of Georgian wine and cultural heritage, surrounded by the historical grandeur of Devon’s Dartington Hall.
Georgia’s Geographical Canvas
Nestled between the towering High Caucasus and the Black Sea, with Russia hovering to the north and Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan to the south, Georgia’s fertile valleys have been both coveted and celebrated throughout history. This small yet vibrant nation boasts a population of 3.7 million and a landscape as diverse as its grape varieties.
The Supra: A Culinary Heartbeat
The festival’s zenith was the Supra, an emblematic Georgian feast, held in Dartington’s medieval great hall. Here, the legendary polyphonic choir Shvidkatsa serenaded diners, enhancing the already rich atmosphere with their harmonies, echoing the themes of love, loss, and celebration intrinsic to Georgian culture.
Wine: The Soul of the Supra
Despite the array of cultural demonstrations, from grape crushing to dance, the wines claimed the spotlight. An exhibition of approximately 80 wines from esteemed producers like Giuaani and Dugladze, as well as importers such as Taste of Georgia and 80-20, showcased the complexity and depth of Georgian viticulture.
The Qvevri: A Symbol of Resilience and Revival
Central to the revival is the qvevri, an ancient earthenware vessel used for fermenting and aging wine. This practice, nearly lost during Soviet rule, has been embraced anew, bringing with it a resurgence of traditional Georgian winemaking techniques.
The Scientific Serendipity
In a compelling revelation, grape genetic science has highlighted Georgian native grapes as the historical ‘bridge’ connecting Asian and European varietals. This positions Georgia not merely as a participant but as the progenitor of modern winemaking.
Reflections from the Wine Community
Critics and aficionados, like Robert Joseph and Vladimer Kublashvili, commend the festival for its role in uniting neophytes and enthusiasts, all drawn by the allure of Georgia’s enigmatic wine legacy.
The Lost Eden Beckons
As Abbott poignantly notes, the weekend’s events underscored the thirst for knowledge about Georgia’s ancient wine culture. To many, Georgia represents a “lost Eden” — a sentiment echoing profoundly with wine lovers and novices alike, captivated by the idea of rediscovering a primordial wine paradise.
In the narrative of Georgia, every bottle uncorked is a chapter of history relived, every glass raised a toast to the endurance of an enigmatic culture. The press, in documenting this cultural reawakening, is not just reporting on an event but inviting the world to partake in the rediscovery of a nation’s heart, one poured out generously in glasses filled with its most ancient treasure — wine.