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Archil Guniava

Archil Guniava, "Otskhanuri Sapere-Tsolikouri" 2018

Archil Guniava, "Otskhanuri Sapere-Tsolikouri" 2018

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Archil Guniava works on his family’s estate of 1.5 hectares atop clay soil in the central, western region of Georgia known as Imereti. This is a region of the historic winemaking nation (the first nation, by many accounts, to have ever made wine -- 8,000 vintages in!) that is known for both grape and mulberry production and, as such, is conducive to beautiful, deep wines. Imereti is itself one of the 5 major winemaking regions of Georgia though in a nation that has such immense diversity of terroir and grape combined with a long viticultural heritage that means the number of winemakers in the nation is enormous  - perhaps it is a fool’s errand to “define” a hierarchical system as has historically been set out by the likes of France or Italy. In any case, the climate here lends itself particularly well to winemaking where the humid, salty air of the Black Sea wanders inland to temper the otherwise relatively arid conditions of Kvaliti (the village in Imereti where Archil’s estate rests). A stone’s throw north of the winery is the Kvilira River - another body of water, in addition to the much larger Rioni River that helps define the topography of Imereti. In the cellar, Archil works with Qvevri and macerated-aging as is typical of traditional Imereti and Georgian winemaking. He also utilizes trellising for his Otskhanuri Sapere vines (grapes that benefit in a special way from height). Corn, clover, and other ground cover and flowering plants grow in the combes of these vines - the result is a totally symbiotic, complete system of viticulture, but perhaps more so, a portrait of Archil, his personality, and the depth of his family’s roots here. 

Tasting Notes: Reminiscent of a Loire Red, but with Georgian sensibilities. Denser red fruit and savory tomato mingle with a mushroomy aroma. Lightly tannic with a long, smoky finish. A perfect BBQ red. Serve at room temperature with a hearty Mediterranean feast. 

Vinification: A blend of Otskhanuri Sapere and Tsolikouri grapes hand-harvested from halfy-trellised vines grown in clay soil. The white Tsolikouri grapes go into Qvevri first after a short maceration and press before the red Otskhanuri Sapere grapes are harvested in November, macerated, and pressed into the Qvevri along with some chacha (pomace and stems). The wine ages for a short period of time before being bottled unfined, unfiltered, and with zero additional SO2.

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The Region: Imereti,

The Imereti wine region is one of the prominent winemaking regions in Georgia, a country located in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia. Georgia is known for its ancient winemaking tradition, with a history dating back thousands of years, and Imereti is one of the key regions contributing to this heritage. Here's an overview of the Imereti wine region: Geography and Location: Imereti is situated in the western part of Georgia, bordered by the Black Sea to the west. The region encompasses a diverse range of landscapes, including hills, valleys, and plains. Its geographical diversity makes it suitable for various grape varieties and winemaking styles. Climate: The climate in Imereti is characterized by a temperate, humid, and subtropical climate, influenced by the Black Sea. This climate provides a favorable environment for grape cultivation, with warm summers and mild winters. Grape Varieties: Imereti is known for its cultivation of both indigenous and international grape varieties. Some of the traditional Georgian grape varieties found in the region include Tsolikouri, Tsitska, and Krakhuna. Additionally, international varieties like Rkatsiteli and Kisi are also grown here. Winemaking Tradition: Imereti has a rich winemaking tradition that dates back centuries. Georgian winemaking methods, such as qvevri winemaking (fermentation and aging in large clay vessels buried underground), are still practiced in the region. These traditional techniques have been recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage. Wine Styles: Imereti produces a wide range of wine styles, including dry, semi-sweet, and sweet wines. The region is known for its white wines made from Tsolikouri and Tsitska grapes, which are often aged in qvevri, resulting in unique and complex flavors. Notable Subregions: Within Imereti, there are several subregions known for their specific wine characteristics. For example, the Lechkhumi subregion is renowned for its production of Tsitska and Tsolikouri wines, while the Racha subregion is known for its unique appellation of controlled origin, producing high-quality wines. Cultural Significance: Wine is deeply ingrained in Georgian culture and traditions, and Imereti is no exception. The region hosts various wine festivals and cultural events celebrating the importance of wine in Georgian society. Modern Winemaking: While traditional winemaking methods persist in Imereti, modern wineries and techniques have also emerged in recent years. This combination of tradition and innovation has contributed to the region's growing reputation in the global wine market. Imereti, like other Georgian wine regions, offers a unique and distinct wine experience that reflects the country's rich history and cultural heritage. Visitors to the region can explore its vineyards, taste traditional Georgian wines, and learn about the fascinating world of Georgian winemaking.
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