Friday, August 26, 2016
Georgian Toast: A Taste Of History
--Cuisines of the Caucasus Mountains: Recipes, Drinks, and Lore from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Russia by Kay Shaw Nelson
Back in 2008, when I first tasted a wine from the country of Georgia, a former Soviet republic which is located in the Caucasus region, they were a rarity in the Boston area. It is only in the last few years that Georgian wines have started becoming more readily available in the Boston area. At the last few Boston Wine Expos, a number of Georgian importers and producers have showcased their wines, and I've eagerly tasted these wines, enjoying the unique, indigenous grapes, as well as some of their traditional wine-making processes, such as the use of qvevri, earthenware vessels used for fermentation and aging.
In addition, Georgian wines present a taste of history as Georgia is often said to be the birthplace of wine, with archaeological evidence extending back approximately 8,000 years. Their use of qvevri also extends back to those earliest times, so modern producers using these earthenware vessels have a connection to the ancient past. As qvevri clearly affect the taste of the wine, it is actually like you are sampling a piece of history, and that is exciting.
Matter & Light Fine Art Gallery, located on Thayer Street in the South End. Thayer Street is lined with art galleries and Matter & Light is located on a lower level. It is a small gallery, displaying works from contemporary artists from all over the world. Much of the works are abstracts, though there are also some figure studies.
Ballets Russes Arts Initiative, a non-profit, based in Boston, that promotes creative exchange in the fine and performing arts between the U.S. and the post-Soviet region. They host numerous events, promoting the arts, including films, concerts, dances, plays and more. If you're interested in the arts of the post-Soviet region, then you might like to check out this Initiative.
Bazaar International Gourmet, with stores located in Brookline and Allston. It is a specialty grocery store with a large selection of Russian and Eastern European foods. Some of the hors d'oeuvres were more traditional Georgian dishes, though they were not labeled so I'm not sure as to the identity of many of the dishes, though they were tasty, and went well with the wines.
Georgian Toast, a Massachusetts-based boutique importer focused exclusively on wines from Georgia. I previously encountered their wines at the last Boston Wine Expo and you can check out my prior review for background on Georgian wines, background on Georgian Toast, and reviews of a number of their wines. Above, holding a bottle of wine, is Kosta Middleman, one of the passionate members of Georgian Toast.
At this event, there were 12 wines available for tasting, from four different providers (Georgian Valleys, Jakeli, KTM, and Orgo), and included wines made from indigenous varieties such as Rkatsitelli, Mtsvane, Ojaleshi, and Saperavi and from specific regions including Kakheti, Khashmi, Lechkhumi, and Gurjaani. Some of the wines were fermented in qvevri while others were made with more modern wine-making practices. I'd previously tasted many of these wines, and retasted them again, finding them just as delicious and compelling as before, especially the 2012 Jakeli Wines Saperavi.
There were three wines which were new to me, and they all deserve some attention.
2014 Kakhetian Traditional Winemaking (KTW) Ia's Rosé is a semi-dry Rosé wine, with a 11.5% ABV, that is made from a blend of three grapes, Saperavi, Muscat and Mtsvane. The wine spends about 8-10 hours on the skins, giving it a bright pink color. It has a lovely aroma of red fruits and floral notes, and on the palate there are tasty flavors of strawberries and raspberries, with hints of rose petals, and a little tartness on the finish. It is crisp and easy drinking, perfect for the summer, though it is food friendly and you can easily drink it year round.
I highly recommend both of these Orgo wines, and they are an excellent introduction to Georgian qvevri wines. If your local wine shop doesn't carry Georgian wines, then ask them to check out the Georgian Toast portfolio.