Wine, much like the other members of the alcohol family, came in to being by accident. Sitting by the riverside buried in earthen pots, stored grape juice resulted into alcohol. Not just any accident but one of the most fortunate sour deals known to the human kind. Minus the mysteries that wines can wrap you into, one of the most frequently raised query is about its origin. Unlike the story of Jesus turning water to wine, but one that is proven by the archaeologists’ studies and facts. It was in the valley of the South Caucasus in the state of Georgia that bore the first viticultural footmarks and eventually wine production. Not to be confused with the hometown of Ted Turner, founder of CNN and Cartoon Network, in the U.S.A. this is the state that was once a part of U.S.S.R. confederation. A sacrosanct part of the country’s history and culture today, wines have never come second from being a daily utility. Today it stands as the second biggest producer in that region, after Moldova.
Georgia has been a wine producer for the longest time, over seven millenniums and still counting. With its tongue twisting local varieties like Rkatsiteli, Mtsvane, Chinuri, and Manata in the whites and Saperavi, Ojaleshi, Tavkveri, and Gibrita in the reds, the country puts completely different genre of wine styles on the table as compared to the internationally known grapes like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, etc. It produces reds, whites, and fortified wines of various kinds and designations. Study of these styles is quite an intense-yet-interesting chapter in its own.Recently, Tabuni Gvino, Mumbai based importers, decided to get India its first Georgian drop. Fond of the house of ‘Tsinandali Askaneli’, one of the oldest in the country, they have made their reds and whites available to the Indian palates. The house has been producing wines since 1886 and is a boutique property with a strong emphasis on quality. Mr. Kartik Sharma and Mr. Praveen Bali, the men behind the company, speak with the same passion that the Georgians reserve for their wines: a passion that becomes the driving force behind the high quality of these wines.The Wi-Not panel put these wines on the taste-test and here are our thoughts.2005 Tsinandali Askaneli White: Rkatsitel + MtsvaneGrapes for this drop comes from two different sub-regions. Rkatsiteli comes from Telavi and Mtsvane from Kvareli. Both brought together brings wine its fruity and acidic characteristic.Deep straw colour. Intense raisin-like smell with ‘henna’ notes and green olive paste. The nose was musty at front but inclined toward a homemade yeasty bread loaf. Dry on the palate with notes of tart apples, hay, earth, pine oil, resins, and tad toasty. The palate indicates on-lees aging that add moderate body to the wine. The acidity seems to be matured lending towards being quite volatile with a high alcoholic finish and short aftertaste. The wine can prove to be dynamic with the right food, something on the gamey side. Will do great at INR900 at the retail shelf.2005 Tsinandali Askaneli Red: SaperaviThe most important red grape variety of the country provide deep red wines meant to live for up to 50 years. High in alcohol and tannins is its classical identity.Deep ruby red with pale watery rims indicating deep extraction. Husky nose with dusty notes, fruity lift but a spicy finish. The palate is dry with notes much more concentrated this time. Cherry and plums dominate the flavour spectrum with oak, sap, and black tea leaves notes at the back. Moderate yet powdery tannins, medium body and acidity, and subtle alcohol. The aftertaste lingered for a while but was clean and sharp. All in all the wine is balanced, thus, intriguing and is a moderately well made example of the variety. Pairing with a lamb stew or a pork chop shall do justice to the wine. Any tag between INR1200-1400 will be a justifiable.