Iago Chinuri 2019
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Iago Bitarishvili, Kartli (Georgia). White. 12.5%, 750ml.
Archaeologists have suggested that Georgian winemaking stretches back as far as 8000 years. Winemakers in the area are proud of this heritage and adhere to these ancient traditions; making wine from the 500+ indigenous varieties in the country and ageing them in the mysterious clay vessels- qvevri (which have become incredibly trendy of late). These are often buried in the ground to keep the temperature stable while the wine carries out a lengthy elevage, taking on subtle complexities of flavour over time.
Georgia is best known for its amber wines where the wine is aged in qvevri and on the skins of white grapes. The skins form a protective layer over the young wine, much as the layer of yeast (flor) does in a sherry, this allows the wine to age for sometimes years without oxidising or losing freshness. They also impart tannin structure and complexity.
Iago Bitarishvili farms 2 hectares of (the white grape) Chinuri in Georgia's Kartli region, on the outskirts of the Caucasus mountain range. The grapes are gently pressed and then aged for 6 months in qvevri on the skins. The wine itself is gently tannic and multi layered, with muted notes of citrus, quince and pear and lots of savoury nutty yeasty character and a dash of salt to finish. Serve only lightly chilled to open up its depths.
This is a delicious and affordable example of Georgian winemaking.