We had never tasted Georgian wines before. That is to say, wines from Georgia the country, not the state. Once we did, we knew we’d continue to taste amazing wines from this region in the future. Many people don’t realize that Georgia holds the distinction of being the birthplace of wine. Scientists found wine residue on pieces of clay vessels dating back 8,000 years. Therefore, winemaking is a part of the small country’s identity. Read on for the story and the three wines we tasted.
In 2015, scientists uncovered ancient clay vessels dating back 8,000 years at an archeological dig in southeastern Georgia. Researchers analyzing the residue contained within the vessels—the remains of grapes and grape seeds—dated the material to 6000 BCE, establishing ancient Georgia as the first known location of grape winemaking.
While winemaking has long been the engine of the Georgian economy, winemakers are now exploring new markets and finding a new place for their wines on the world stage.
As a result, the country is now reviving the industry, with more than 2,000 new vineyards in the past decade. Subsequently, Wines of Georgia‘s motto is “Ancestral grapes. Ancient techniques. Modern tools. Revolutionary wines.”
According to the National Wine Agency of Georgia, the country exported more than 140 million bottles of wine to 66 countries, including 1.5 million bottles to the U.S. The U.S. is the seventh largest export country for Georgia wines. This means it’s now easier to taste wines from this country, and after we opened three bottles, we are glad to hear it.
Here’s where you can find Georgian wines in the U.S.
Chateau Mukhrani Estate Goruli Mtsvane 2020 ($27)
We recently tried this white wine from Georgia, and we were wowed. Chateau Mukhrani 2020 features vibrant grassy and citrus notes, with refreshing acidity and a thread of minerality, from 85% Goruli Mtsvane and 15% Chinuri, grapes native to the region. At first sip, it tastes similar to a well-made Sauvignon Blanc. But at the same time, this Goruli Mtsvane is unique, with fresh and salty notes from the minerality in the soil. This gorgeous white wine also has aging potential. We drank it as an apéritif, and then paired it with delicious chicken wings. Beautiful! You could also match it with tomato and cucumber salad, chicken with garlic walnut sauce (satsivi) or eggplant dishes. A landmark historical estate and winery, Chateau Mukhrani has crafted wine since 1878. It is known as the first Georgian Chateau, with a vineyard, wine cellar, and a palace.
Askaneli Gocha’s Collection Muza Qvevri 2019 ($30)
This amber wine comprises a symphony of five native grapes: 30% Rkatsiteli, 25% Kakhuri Mtsvane, 20% Krakhuna, 15% Kisi and 10% Mtsvivani. Rich aromas of white plums, stone fruit, dried herbs and minerality echo the velvety, textured palate, along with notes of caramel. The wine’s color comes from six months of fermentation in quevri (Georgian clay vessels) with skin contact. Not everyone likes amber wines. For example, I enjoyed it but Dave did not. However, if you’re not sure, try it with a bacon-avocado salad, turkey or Peking duck. You might be surprised. Founded in 1998, the Chkhaidze brothers named the winery after the village of Askana, where their ancestor Antimoz Chkhaidze built an old wine cellar. The village preserved that cellar and several pitchers dating back to 1880.
Silk Road Saperavi 2020 ($16)
This dry 100% Saperavi full-bodied, red wine offers aromas of raspberries, blackberries, figs and cherry cola, with hints of cinnamon and black pepper, mirrored on the palate along with orange zest on the finish. Instead of oak, the grapes are fermented in stainless steel tanks. Subsequently, this Saperavi has the weight and feel of a Rhône blend. Serve it with hearty stews, grilled meats, lamb chops, salmon, roasted mushrooms or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Saperavi is the leading grape of Georgia, representing 30% of the country’s harvest in 2022.
Summary: Georgian Wines
In conclusion, our journey into Georgian wines is just beginning. We look forward to experiencing more exciting wines from the birthplace of wine. And we recommend you do the same.
Thanks, Colangelo, for the introduction to these marvelous Georgian wines.
Margot and Dave