In 2012, diggers unearthed a surprise stash of hundreds of old qvevri in the grounds of Vaziani wine cellar. They were the remains of the once princely, then derelict, winery of Makashvili, founded in the latter half of the 15th Century. Vaziani (a large, modern winery established in the 1980s) set about restoring the old marani and, even more ambitiously, the old qvevri. The fragile clay vessels were winched out of the ground that had supported them for decades. Most cracked or broke. Small breakages could be repaired but, even so, just 39 of the 200 could be saved. The 39 were cleaned and re-lined (a demanding task, requiring the expertise of qvevri craftsmen), and installed in the restored marani. Today, Makashvili is producing some of the best qvevri wines of Georgia, winning gold medals and trophies at international competitions such as the International Wine Challenge. The Amber wines – from a range of varieties including the lesser seen Mtsvane and Kisi – combine generosity and power.
The wines will shortly be available in the UK through Georgian Wine Club.