I got into eastern European wines, namely Georgian wines, after working with Amphorae made by Chad Stock in Oregon. I was also simultaneously repping for a portfolio that had a few skin contact wines in the portfolio, and one was Dila-O. ( which is a great production if you're looking for an approachable entry into the Georgian wines, but truly I simultaneously say dive in and try Pheasant Tears, Andreas Gvino, Nikalas Marani...).
After a long deep dive, I do not claim anywhere to be an expert, however I have a passion for this region. It might be because it makes me feel closer to my family in Ukraine. It might be because I have had the privilege of playing with Amphora while I was still new in the industry... still, I have a lot of love, respect, and passion for this region and how it continues to stay resilient throughout tons of turmoil.
Wine has always, and will always, be a creation that pulls you closer to the people of that region... at least for me. This opinion of mine is partially why I think it is so important to talk about the native grapes of the regions that aren't... well, "Old World". Eastern Europe holds the longest history of making wines. Armenia and Georgia are probably both correct in saying they made wine first, because.... 6,200BC... they probably shared that country. When USSR took over control of that land, Armenia became brandy wine, and Georgia became a mass producer of some of the limited grapes that were allowed for wine production in communist control (Read more about that in Uncorking the Caucus, and Amber Revolution).
I'm going to leave it at this little tid bit, as I'd love some participation from you all about your thoughts, ESPECIALLY anyone who knows more about Turkey and Israel! Both have beautiful histories that include religion and wine (which is another subject that someone more educated on than I should bring up!) and how that limits or pushes consumption, and how it is to drink those wines out of that country vs in that country!
- Grapes I love: Areni and Kangun (Armenian), I find them to also be semi accessible, as well. I'm still learning about more Armenian wines. Kisi, Saperavi.. Budeshuri clone, Mtsvane. and Chkaveri for rose.
- Favorite Distributor: Black Lamb Wine. However Georgian Wine House based in DC also is wonderful.
- Favorite books on the subject: Lisa Graniks Wine of Georgia, Obviously. Amber Revolution. Uncorking the Caucus.
- Fav producers: as mentioned in the body, Nikalas Marani and Andreas Gvino probably are my two current favorites for consistent beauty and elegance in these unfiltered wines.
If you're also into Georgian/ Armenian/ Turkish wines.. and Israeli ( as they all like to claim birthplace) please write your favorite education forms/ grapes/ producers!!
Look forward to talking with you all!