I recently had to come to Tbilisi for a span of a little less than three days. We had to sign documents at the Bank of Georgia. It was a last minute trip, so I didn’t have any real plans to do anything such as going out to Kakheti and visiting winemakers for wine tours or checking out whatever hot new restaurant has opened up. These inhumane hours that bring you in and out of Tbilisi are murder on your energy. I wanted to take it easy.
On Saturday night I joined friends for a producer tasting at the ten month old Wine Boutique, which is just up the street from Rooms Hotel. It’s a small wine ship with one large table and two smaller ones that can accommodate a nice group for wine tastings. We arrived early, and the first thing I notice is the amount of wines for sale at very reasonable prices. There are the usual classics, and a number of new producers.
We enjoyed an interesting horizontal tasting of 2018 wines with Father Michael. He calls his winery Utskinari, which means humble in Georgian language. After a few minutes, we all understood why that name was so fitting. He presented each wine, and let the wines speak for themselves, a great skill in these days of social media shouting, and every winemaker clambering to get a piece of the action, unwilling to listen to critique. Father Michael allowed us, the drinkers, to decide for ourselves which wines we liked. It was fun to be a tasting of Amber qvevri wines with Georgians. After all, these wines are their heritage, they’ve been drinking them since time immemorial and they have am ease of description that doesn’t come so easy to those of us with formal Western wine education.
After the tasting, when most of the people left, I stated behind with Irakli and then the bottles started popping. One of my favorite of the evening was a delicate Rkatsiteli from Tsarapi. Even though it was made in the traditional Kakhetian way (six months of skin contact), it didn’t have a heaviness to it that I often find to be the case with amber qvevri wines from Kakheti.
Giorgi Kobiashvili, the owner, explained that this was due to where it was grown, an area with clay and limestone soil that leant itself to a fresher, brighter wines that was more to my taste. I have always preferred the Amber wines of Imereti over Kakheti because they tend to be fresher and more elegant, so this was a great surprise for me.
It was great to be able to sample wines with knowledgeable people who were friendly and, if I am honest, a LOT of fun to spend time with. A great wine evening for me is one that lends itself to great conversation. Qvevri wines seem to facilitate a more philosphpibcal mindset.
If you are in Tbilisi, head on over to Wine Boutique, have a chat and buy some wine. Tell then Sarah from Taste Georgia send you, and he will give you a 10% discount.
17 Anastasia Eristav-Khoshtaria Street
0108 Tbilisi, Georgia