“I am so glad you came to taste my wine” Giorgi said. “I hope you will come again and again.” Most Georgian take guests to be a gift from heaven. Giorgi is no exception
Giorgi Revazashvili is young but talented winemaker from a remote village in the Ateni Valley in Western Georgia. We have come to taste his qvevri wines.
Ateni is a fertile place. There are cornfields and orchards and little villages with yellow painted overhead gas pipes. Endemic Tavkveri and Chinuri grapes thrive in the valley’s microclimate. Everybody here has vines and they all make wine in qvevris buried in the back garden. Most make chacha, the fiery Georgian grape brandy from the left over grape skins and pips.
Giorgi’s vineyard is situated in a small village in the Ateni Valley, 750m above sea level. The vineyard covers just 1ha and is farmed naturally without the use of chemicals or fertilisers. All the grapes grown are local species: Chinuri, Goruli, Mtsvane, Budeshuri and Tavkveri. Following the small harvest (only 3000 litres of wine produced from each harvest) the wine is left in traditional Qvevri for about 6 months and a small amount of sulphur is added before bottling.
We drove as far as the coach could go and walked the rest of the way to Grigori’s house and marani (cellar). Grigori led the way and several dogs followed us, barking continuously. The small winery occupied the ground floor of his house. The stone tank where grapes are foot trodden stood behind a row of qvevris buried in the ground. A small stainless steel storage tank stood in one corner and bottle racks lined the walls.
We tasted his white – a Chinuri and Goruli Mtsvane blend. It had tannins from qvevri Chinuri with herbal aromas and flavour of dried apricots and crisp floral, lime and honeyed notes from Goruli Mtsvane. The Tavkveri dry red from the local Atenuri appellation was attractive with herbal and bright cherry flavours.
Giorgi and his mother led us to the first floor balcony of his small house next to the winery. Most Georgian houses have such large balconies where people relax and have meals. A table was already laid. There was the cucumber and tomato salad with a few leaves that accompanies virtually every Georgian meal, Imeruli Khchapuri – the pie filled with pungent, salty Sulguni cheese, jonjoli – pickled Jonjoli flowers with vinegar, oil, onion and coriander, meat pies, cheese, lovely Georgian bread and fruit & nuts – all prepared by Grigori’s mother who kept on pressing us to eat more. Grigori sat next to me and poured the wine. “I was at the Real Wine Fair in London this year” he told me. I was impressed and wondered how Eric Narioo finds these obscure winemakers in remotest corners of the earth and get them to exhibit at his annual wine show.
Merab was looking at his watch and getting anxious. “We should be going” he whispered in my ear. We were planning to visit another winemaker for a tasting lunch and then see a master qvevri maker before driving to Kutaisi. Giorgi opened another bottle of wine and his mother brought in more cheese pie. I smiled and poured myself another glass of Chinuri. What’s the hurry I thought. After all, we were the gifts from heaven!
Giorgi Revazashvili, Ateni Village, Revazashviligiorgi@gmail.com
- Giorgi Revazashvili who speaks very little English, wrote: “thank you very much ,you can vizit my village ateni every time you are ingland best friend” and has asked to become a Facebook friend of the HMWS.
The tour was arranged by Living Roots LLC, 3, Ingorokva st, Tbilis,i Georgia, +995 599 48 00 86 www.travellivingroots.com