UK-based Institute of Masters of Wine sent its delegation to Georgia
The first “Masters of Wine Trip to Georgia”, organized in cooperation with Georgian Wine Association, was a highly professional event, which envisaged retrospective tastings of indigenous grape varieties as well as microvinifications of high-quality rare Georgian varieties.
Hvino News has interviewed Rosemary GEORGE, Master of Wine a freelance wine writer and author. She kindly agreed to share impressions about trip to Georgia.
Please tell us about yourself. What made you enter into the world of wine?
Rosemary George: I fell into the wine trade by accident back in 1972 after reading history at London University which at the end of the 1960-s had a flourishing students’ wine society. Basically it was an excuse for a weekly party, but something rubbed off, as after completely a secretarial course, I applied for a job with a large mail order wine merchant, The Wine Society, and they offered me a glass of champagne at the interview, as well as the job!
The first I heard about the trip to Georgia was a conversation with Lisa Granik, who was behind this trip, at our annual champagne party. And I was very interested as I first visited Georgia in 2006 to judge for your first ever wine competition, but sadly the logistics of the visit did not allow us to visit any wine producers.
From professional standpoint, was your visit to Georgia a valuable experience? If yes, can you highlight the most interesting moments?
Enormously valuable and enriching. I’ve been involved with wine for over 40 years and a Master of Wine since 1979, and it is wonderful to go somewhere, where there is something new to discover, I had very little experience of wine produced in qvevri and as for all your unpronounceable grape varieties… And so I will be writing about it all as much as I can. The tasting at the research station was definitely a highlight, as was the Alaverdi monastery.
How can you characterize the current place of Georgia among the world’s wine producers?
The history of Georgia is fascinating. I think Georgia will be seen as a small niche producer, making some very special and individual wines. You have been large producers under the Soviets, but I certainly do not see that as your role today.
What are the biggest obstacles, which lie in the way of a wider international expansion of Georgian wines?
In a nutshell, your unpronounceable grape varieties. You will probably have to concentrate on the more memorable names, like Saperavi. And the next stage is the export market in Western Europe and the United States.
Let’s talk about the wines per se. If you have personal likes or dislikes about any specific Georgian wines, we will be interested to know.
I thought the best of the qvevri wines were absolutely delicious, and original and distinctive. There is a lovely fragrance about Saperavi from qvevri and the white wines may be an acquired taste, but I think I am acquiring it! I certainly intend to buy some Georgian wines in London.
We sincerely hope that you had a chance to get familiar with some cultural treasures of Georgia. “Technical tastings and visits will be complemented with relevant elements of Georgian history and culture” – reads the short announcement about your trip. How was the aspect implemented?
We had a memorable visit to the Georgian National Museum in Tbilisi. What a wonderful collection of gold, and then the wine artefacts. What a privilege to see some antique grape pips and the qvevri in which wine was made 8000 years ago. And if culture includes cuisine, we enjoyed a delicious range of your national dishes. The hospitality was so warm and generous.