georgia

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Ancient
Georgia has a solid claim to be the birthplace of wine, a birthright dating back at least 8,000 years. Chkhaveri is one of those Georgian grapes that is described as ancient and indigenous, among other quite positive descriptions. It also makes wine in the white, red and rose varieties, depending on the producer and the region.

Fragile yet worth it
The grape tends to fall flat when faced with fungal diseases and phylloxera so it was quite at risk until recent decades when it now appears to be making something of a comeback even if true Georgian wine converts still have a hard time finding it regularly in the Tbilisi supermarkets.

Taste
Watercolor wine in a style resminiscent of the Monet, Cezanne era. Hard to pin down exact color (is it light red, light orange, aperol?), hard to pin down the exact taste (is that light strawberry, rose on the lips, maybe a smell of a raspberry?) but the lightness and length of the wine shimmer on for a long time and the combination is lovely for a hot afternoon heading into evening.  Ripe for sunsets in hot climes.

Detail up!
Lukasi 2017 Rose 11% wine of the versatile Chkhaveri grape from the mountainous region of Adjara in the west of Georgia
Random Googles
* Chkhaveri is the English writing of the Georgian grape – ჩხავერი – which gives a sense of how different the languages and scripts are from each other.
* Georgian script (all 3 of them to be specific) is one of the three UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritages. The other two are wine (from the clay amphora known as qvevri) and polyphonic Georgian singing. All 3 well deserved.
* Government of Georgia provides here a fascinating amount of detail on the origins of Chkhaveri, cultivation, history and future of the grape

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Madness in Pie Slices
Trivial Pursuit leads men mad. Sure, it’s easy enough to get the Orange “Sports” pie slice. Random history learned in the fourth grade can net you the yellow slice but you’re still four away from victory. Plus, unless lightning strikes and Teddy Roosevelt appears with big stick in hand, it’s impossible to answer the Pink slice – “Entertainment.” Really, it should be re-branded as “Slice of Un-American Entertainment” and denounced for the pinko card-carrying it is.

Blue Pie Peaches
Fortunately, there’s now one slice that you’ll be able to answer – Blue. Geography. Because this slice will inevitably lead to the question of which state is also a country. And you’ll know – because you drink wine and remember Ty Cobb as the “Georgia Peach” from your Orange pie slice glory days.

Georgia – a country
Enter the country of Georgia. Nestled against the soothing belly of Mother Bear Russia and topping Turkey, that land of many grape vines (3X as many as South Africa!) and notably few wines (sigh….), this is a country. Not a country of ______ or a country known for _______. Just a country – and that’s enough because it’s had a hard enough time attaining even that title.

Tis-so-a-cow, Rhee
On top of that, Georgia is a country that makes wine from its grapes, like Russia and unlike Turkey. You’ll be a better man than I (more likely to garner the Pink pie slice for sure), if you know this grape name. In fact, I’d buy you a pie if you can pronounce it. Tis-so-lih-cow-ri? Who knows? Who would confirm it?

Old, Old Wines
Georgians will confirm it and they’re out in the tweeter-verse. They’ll tell you Tsolikauri is one of the most planted grapes in the country in a country has grown wine for over 8,000 years (not a typo). They’ll tell you it’s one of the highest quality grapes the country offers out of the more than 400 grapes it grows. They just won’t tell you that it was one of Stalin’s favorites because then they’d have to explain that Stalin was born in Georgia and that gets awkward because you already have your yellow pie slice and you know he killed lots of people. Not over wine or anything but still. It’s awkward.

Taste
The taste of Tsolikauri is pretty much different and different in a really good way from other wines this wino has tried. We’re talking peach with a sweet smell (ok, kinda similar), medium body with medium sweetness (still kinda the same) but then there’s the difference. This Tsolikauri seems like it’d be high alcohol since it’s riding around your mouth in a go-kart made from white port and summer riesling. You’re thinking it’s going down in high-alcohol infused blue flame but no – this wine brakes and clock in at only 10.5% alcohol. Slow, long victory lap featuring more peach and cries of joy ensue from the audience ensue.

Detail Up!
Marani 2005 of the Tvishi controlled appellation made in Racha-Lechkhumi region in Georgia – for a 2005 white, this bottle (surprisingly) had plenty of life too.

Random Googles:
* One blog, righteously called Fringe Wine, describes Georgia as its “first real discovery” – a pretty solid compliment from someone called Fringe Wines
* Tsolikauri is one of the big grapes used in Georgia, along with Rkatsiteli, Tsitska, Mtsvane, Tetra, Krakhuna and others (sidebar – it’s great fun saying these aloud and loudly)
* Those cool looking jugs on the label you see above is a big part of Georgian wine culture (yup, it’s way older than expected) – they stick that jug in the ground to keep the wine cool while it ages… for years. Called a “Qvevri

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