I love broadening my own wine horizons, and I’m always surprised at how narrowly most non-wine-focused media see the world of wine. So I was quite surprised to see a whole segment today on CNN all about Georgian wine. No not the Southern State. The country.
The country of Georgia hosts one of the oldest winemaking cultures in the world, and is regarded by some as the birthplace of winemaking. Georgian wine, of which I’ve had a scant couple of bottles in my life, comes in many varieties, but they are most famous for their tradition of long macerated wines fermented and stored in huge terra-cotta amphorae called kvevri that are buried in the ground up to their necks. These practices are currently being borrowed (honored?) by a small number of winemakers outside of Georgia, most notably Josko Gravner, whose orange wines are very dear to my heart.
In this nice little segment, reporter Ivan Watson visits a couple of wineries to taste wines out of the kvevri and it looks like a lot of fun. It’s great to see CNN off the beaten travel path, and wonderful to see them highlighting a wine region so rich in tradition and history.
Unfortunately, CNN perhaps not being so wine savvy, hasn’t done a great job of fact checking their sources, as the number of vinifera grape varieties (the primary source of most fine wine) in the world that is quoted in the story at 3000 is actually much closer to 10,000. While Georgia should be proud of their 500 (of which 38 are officially sanctioned for grape growing, according to Jancis Robinson’s Oxford Companion to Wine), they certainly don’t represent one sixth of the known varieties on the planet.
No matter. Georgia is still cool, and so are their wines.