Kakheti wine tour
Within kakheti wine tour we will visit following places:
History of the region
Kakheti, many associations are coming with this name, but at first of course wine, It's the heart of viticulture of Georgia and probably most fertile land, land which gone through many invasions and wars, most devastating was Persian invasions in 16-17th century, when thousands of Georgians were massacred and exiled to Persia forcibly. Still, as a symbol of their mighty spirit they saved their Christian belief and monasteries, worth to mention Ujarma fortress and church from 5th century, Nekresi monastery complex from 4th centruy Gremi monastery, beauty of Alazani valley Alavardi church and so on. But again I don't want to talk a lot about history here as it can be discussed during the tour, more useful will be information about growing wine industry in this region.
Most prominent wine verities originated from Kakheti. One, who made decision to visit Georgia, already has some information about the country, but probably not so many of you know that wine is the main symbol of the country, Georgians are proud of 8000 years old culture of wine making. From about 4000 grape species in the world 500 local species are found in Georgia. Well widely popular only about 50 species. Grape tree symbol was carved on ancient artifacts, same symbol can be seen on most Georgian churches as a part of exterior decoration, well it's not just decoration but goes much deeper within the Christian symbolism including Eucharist. As we count thousands of years of wine culture that means we had also our unique way of wine making. Georgian wine was made in a Qvevri, clay vessel which was buried in ground and was used for fermentation, storing and aging of wine. Not long time ago Qvevri was inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (UNESCO). Ancestors of Georgians discovered most important moment for wine fermentation, it was temperature control. As Qvevri was buried in ground it could be assured of negative temperature fluctuation and there was not need of control by artificial means. Ground keeps perfect temperature for wine fermentation. Traditional Georgian wines have specific taste for several reasons. First of all Georgian wines are made from local species, second _ they are fermented in Qvevri, third _ Georgians, especially Kakhetians were using not only juice but crushed grapes as well, so wine was fermented with crushed grapes, thus why Kakhetian wines contain tannin and have specific strong taste, different types of grapes have different fermentation times.
But why nobody heard about Georgian wines and why from this 500 local breeds only few dozens are used in production?
History of Georgian wines
Everything goes to Soviet times. As you know Soviet Union was similar country to North Korea, Russians kept all invaded nations behind iron curtain, not allowing them to know about the life on the West, nor Western people could taste anything Soviet. Nobody could know about Georgian wines or cuisine. This market was isolated and regulated, mainly Georgia and Moldova had to fulfill demand of huge soviet market on a wine. As a result, high quality, rare species were removed from production and only productive species left. Wine was falsified by factories and by private farmers as well. Soviet era and non existing market played devastating role for the development of wine production, even now many Georgians can't imagine house wine without sugar and water, it's like proper way of wine making. Hopefully embargo on Georgian products from Russia's side and development of tourism changed situation to the good. Many new small wine cellars emerged who offer high quality wines and old forgotten breeds were resurrected as well. Big role was played by wine enthusiasts, who collected extensive information about wines, brought evaluation system and motivated real competition between wine makers. There are several wine cellars within Kakheti region I advise, one is Tchotiashvili wine cellar, they produce really good wines in limited quantities, also can say only good about Schumann wines, their management and wines deserve excellent marks from my side. Can't advise trendy place Pheasant's tears, wines maybe good, but American marketing sucks, you will hear same boring stories with whispering voice in front of Qvevri replica, how Georgians took shape of the clay vessel from woman's womb. Believe me, good wine doesn't need marketing tricks and Georgian wine was made by real Georgians, who never cared about marketing technologies, but loved wine and treated it as holly liquid, saved it through hard times of Muslim dominance, survived Soviet times and now resurrecting old tradition. I always consider everything within one entity, so for me real Kakhetians, how they offer wine, how they drink, what they think about wine is more valuable than furnished marketing with fake stories about wine. Wine is like human, it brings not only warmth of the sun, not only strength of the soil, but also spirit of those people who brought it up to you, wine is part of the culture and at the same time sum of the culture. So It's my vision, not to cut out things from natural order, not to just taste it as physical liquid but discover full flavor of wine culture in an authentic atmosphere, with real Georgians, in a real Georgian wine cellar and discover one major difference between western and Georgian perception of wine drinking. Good wine you will feel by your tongue, by your taste receptors, but it will be physical pleasure what you will get. Georgians discovered something different, wine for them was not just pleasurable liquid, it was used more as a mean of Eucharist communion. And indeed Georgians usually drink in a company of friends and open their heart during wine drinking, say toasts discuss different topics and are trying to transform wine drinking in a artistic performance full of poems, songs and dances. Well it's the idea, but good ideas must have equal performers, of course not always it's the case, without proper intellectual background so called "Georgian Academy" has more common with morons academy where people compete in wine drinking with Khantsi, (bull or elk horns for wine drinking, can go up to 2lt).
Most Georgian wines are dry wines, but there are some exclusions, like Kindzmarauli from Kindzmarauli village semi sweet wine, Khvanchkara from West Georgia. So if you are one who loves dry wines I advise to taste From white wines, most common Rkatsiteli, old but resurrected again Kisi, Kakhetian Green and best from Manavi village Manavi Green. And of course very strong and rich of flavor red wine Saperavi.