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2019 Vartikhe Marani Tsolikouri

2019 Vartikhe Marani Tsolikouri

Region: Bagdati < Imereti < Georgia

Grape: Tsolikouri

Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Organic farming; 6 months on the skins in
qvevri (traditional clay pots that are buried in the ground); bottled
unfined/unfiltered with no added So2; zero-zero; 13.5% ABV

Winemaker: Kakha Tchotiashvili

When it comes to winemaking, Georgia (the country, not the state) is
the OG -- literally, Gerorgia is widely considered to be the cradle of
winemaking culture dating back 8,000 years!!  And as for natural
winemaking, there is no other country so embedded in the ideals of the
movement -- mostly because it's not a 'movement' or a new concept for
them, it's simply the way they've always done things.  Grapes are
grown in organic+++ vineyards and aged in qvervi (large clay pots
buried in the ground), where they remain on the skins for long periods
of time, with no additions or subtractions.  Winemaking culture is
everywhere in Georgia -- not reserved for an elite few, here everyone
makes wine because it is an important part of their culture, something
akin to food that should be enjoyable and nourishing, not dissected
and put on a pedestal.

So we've featured Georgian wines before, but ones from the western
region of Imereti are a new discovery for us.  Here, where the
winemaking tradition goes back to 6000 B.C., the air from the Black
Sea to the west and the Caucasus Mountains in the north creates a
humid subtropical climate, creating the perfect storm for growing the
indigenous and rare grape varieties of the region. This is one of
Georgia’s primitive wine regions that can trace its . And, amazingly,
the ancient techniques haven’t changed all that much over eight
millennia: to this day, traditional producers like Vartsikhe Marani
spontaneously ferment and age their wines in large, clay “qvevri” that
are buried underground.

Local boy Kakha Tchotiashvili, who grew up making wine in the
traditional way with his father, makes the Vartikhe Marani wines in
teeny tiny quantities and without any additives or chemicals in the
vineyards or winemaking. They are literally hand made from start to
finish, with each bottle inspected and numbered by Kakha himself. All
are made in Qvevri, and all are fermented with wild yeast and bottled
unfiltered.  After fermentation is finished, the Qvevri are sealed and
covered with soil until spring time.  During the process, the solids
in the wine slowly drop to the bottom of the Qvevri and the clear wine
rises to the top.  When temperatures drop outside, the fermentation is
completely stopped, and the wine is transferred to new Qvevri to age
for more months. In the spring, the Qvevri is opened and wine is drunk
during the big local celebrations called "supra" and only the leftover
wine from the party is bottled. A supra is a traditional – and
over-the-top – Georgian feast that is the center of Georgian social
life.  How awesome is that -- we only get this wine IF they don't
drink it all at the supra!

And also surprising that there was any left, because this wine is so
interesting and delicious.  Intellectual and complex, with savory
herbal notes, exotic spice and rich, concentrated apricot and orange
rind, this is a wine that makes you feel sophisticated and smart just
for choosing it.  Given the long skin contact, there is a subtle
tannic quality that makes it a perfect food wine.  Pair with your
holiday charcuterie or cheese board, because amber wine sings with
gooey, stinky cheeses.  And with all the structure and complexity, it
would be excellent with a roasted chicken or rich holiday spread.  We
are dying to travel to Georgia and experience a supra IRL, but until
then, we drink the amber wines!

SERVING NOTES: chill slightly, but not as much as a normal white wine,
and if you're feeling ambitious, decant into a pitcher -- air brings
out the pretty floral notes.

Regular price $38.00
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