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Georgia on my Mind (2)

“Meat & greet” describes best  part two of my travel experiences with Georgia. On the second day, we travelled to Kakheti. The tradition-rich region is the economic powerhouse of Georgian viticulture. A large part of the country’s wine production comes from here. The landscape of the Alasani Valley around the town of Telavi is just stunning. From the valley, the Caucasus rises to an altitude of over 4000 metres. 

The amber wines of Georgi “Gogi” Dakishvili, vinified in Qvevri, are particularly impressive.  First the Dakishvili Family Selection Kiss 2019: Savoury apricot, camomile, honey and spice. Fine tannins, good complexity and length. 

Then the Orgo Rkatsiteli 2020, whose freshness and structure contrasted well the finesse of the Kisi-based Family Selection: Medium amber, solid grip of tannins, fresh and expressive, with great focus. Apricot, honey, ginger, quince, herbs – just excellent. 

A 10-year-old Qvevri wine in dark amber was also particularly exciting: Hay, orange peel, camomile, honey, walnut, fresh acidity, elegant and savoury finish with a refined tannic grip.  Gogi is also Head Winemaker of Schuchmann Wines, founded by German entrepreneur Burkhard Schuchmann in 2008. Of interest here, although not typically Georgian, was the Schuchmann Rosé Brut made from Malbec and Merlot, with its fine fruity notes of red berries and creamy texture. 

The reception at Teliani Valley, a large producer with around 700 ha of vineyards (disclaimer: for whom I do some consultancy) was also very special. The combination of exuberant Kakheti cuisine and wines like the Glekhuri Kisi Qvevri 2019 – was the perfect match – pictures tell more than words. 

Close to Telavi sits the Tsinandali winery, the former summer residence of the Kakhetian dynasty of the Chavchavadzes. The associated hotel, which is perfectly embedded in the historical structures – is an absolute must-see. And wines like Sophia go perfectly with the spicy cuisine. Speaking of wines from the nobility. Also worth trying is the Saperavi Qvevri by Prince Ione Bagrationi: dark cherry fruit, blackberry, and mulberries with peppery spices.