Featured: Imereti, Set, Go! Gaioz Sopromadze's Georgian Gems
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Today's Featured Wines are Gaioz Sopromadze's Imeretian Stunners.
Our supplier of Georgian wines just received a fresh batch of natural beauties straight from the cradle of viticulture and we couldn’t be more excited. With every vintage Georgian wines seem to get better and more interesting, across the board. There’s a real renaissance going on in Georgia.
The region rightfully claims the title “Birthplace of Wine.” And, as wine drinkers in the US become pickier and more educated, they are seeking out a wine’s history. Finally, history and tradition has become another decisive factor on whether to drink a certain wine (like place, producers, and most importantly--taste).
As the younger generations exert their influence in their family’s operations of traditional, though sometimes variable wines, they bring with them the knowledge of how to continue their long-established style while making them more consistent. Exciting things are happening in Georgia, and we’re thrilled to bring a perfect example to you today.
This excitement is precisely what’s going on at Gaioz Sopromadze’s winery in the Imereti region of western Georgia. Imereti is slightly to the west of central Georgia. But, Georgia is quite small, so when looking at a map it seems that Imereti is only a stone’s throw from both Turkey, to the south, and Russia, to the north. Azerbaijan too, which sits underneath Georgia on the eastern edge of the country, doesn’t seem far at all.
The winery sits beside the powerful, flowing Khanistskali River in the mountains of the town called Baghdati, meaning “God Given” in Persian. The town shares its name with the Iraqi capital reflecting shared relations between the two cultures over a millenia. There is such a rich history in Georgia. Because of its size, it is often looked over, but the wine world does a disservice to itself when Georgia is ignored.
Sopromadze’s winery was built in 1914, just before the Communist Revolution in Russia, by Gaioz’s father. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Gaioz established the winery as an emblem of natural and traditional Imeretian wines. These wines have always been great, but recently they’ve gotten even better as Gaioz’s sons, Lasha and Goga, have lent a hand in the winemaking. Gaioz is still very much in charge, but with the additional help and attention his wines have really begun to shine.
As intended, these wines are a window into the traditional Imeretian style. The Sopromadze marani ( the name for a traditional Georgian winery) is a completely outdoor operation. The small manual presses sit right next to the buried clay qvevri. Recently a simple roof was added to protect the area from the elements, though the sides remain completely open. Both white and red varieties are made with skin and stem inclusion and, of course, without any artificial or manufactured additions.
For those looking to commune with wine in its most natural state you really can’t get any closer than this. For the broader range of wine lovers who don’t want to compromise an authentically natural experience for a wine that is clean, these wines work too. Drinking these wines is like walking through a grassy lawn with your shoes off. You want to feel the earth between your toes, but most of us don’t want to step on rocks or ant hills.
Often enjoying a natural wine and a consistent, clean wine can feel like an either/or-scenario, but not with wines made by Gaioz Sopromadze. With every bottle of these rare treasures you will be effortlessly transported to the dawn of winemaking, something that every true wine lover owes it to themselves to experience.
Gaioz Sopromadze, Krakhuna Amber, 2018 $29.99
The perfect introduction for those new to Georgian amber wines. Though it is a glowing, hazy. honeyed color in the glass, this wine smells exactly like fruit punch! On the palate it is super juicy and fruity with notes of pineapple, guava, strawberries and kiwi while remaining pure and dry. The balance is keen with the grip from the clay Qvevri and tannins kept in check by refreshing acidity. On its own or with Chinese or Thai curry, this is a total home run!
Gaioz Sopromadze, Dzelshavi Red, 2018 $29.99
A fresh light red for lovers of Trousseau and Freisa. In the glass this wine is a gorgeous, powdery, hibiscus color with faded rose reflections. The nose is lightly floral and herbal, reminiscent of wild violets and woodsy thyme, with undertones of sour cherry and crushed strawberry. Despite its lightness, there’s a chewiness from the Qvevri and stem inclusion which makes this a flexible pairing for both fish and meat dishes.