The FINANCIAL — Up to 31 of the best Georgian wine producer companies participated in the IV Georgian National Wine Competition – Georgia – Cradle of Wine.
The competition awarded 8 gold medal winners and 29 silver medal winners. According to the judges’ decision, out of 160 bottles of wine, the ‘grand prix’ was given to Alaverdi Traditions by Badagoni as the best white wine, and Kvareli Special Reserve produced by Kindzmarauli Corporation as the best red wine.
The Wine History Foundation with the support of Tbilisi City Hall, National Intellectual Property Centre of Georgia Sakpatenti, Georgian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Georgian National Museum, The FINANCIAL, Culinary magazine and Wine Club were joint organizers of the competition.
“It can easily be said that this competition has become a traditional endeavour and is becoming more and more versatile both in terms of participants and the wine samples presented,” Jemal Inaishvili, Co-Chairman of the Wine History Foundation told The FINANCIAL. “From the start the Georgian National Wine Competition had two goals: to encourage further improvement of the quality of Georgian wines and to promote wine culture and consumption. We are glad to be emphasizing positive trends in both directions and hope that our competition has also contributed to this,” he added.
Q. What were the terms of the competition and how do you assess the samples?
A. Each type of wine presented by the winemakers for the competition has to be accompanied by a wine sample, one bottle. According to the presented samples, the organizational committee of the competition will purchase as a degustation sample three bottles for each type in retail sales networks. Only those samples which are sold in stores and are available to the general public will participate in the competition. This is called the “Blind Method”. The bottles are packed in foil with special codes on them. If the samples do not meet the standards, the company is removed from the competition.
Degustation and assessment of the presented wine was made by a competent jury which consists of well-known wine experts from Great Britain, France, Germany, Poland and Georgia. The Chairman of the jury is Ana Godabrelidze from Georgia, Co-Chairman: Natasha Hughes from Great Britain. Members: John Salvi, Great Britain; Axel Biesler, Germany; Wojciech Bosak, Poland; Giorgi Samanishvili, Georgia.
The winning wines were awarded a ‘grand prize’, with gold and silver medals and diplomas. This year the competition’s conditions were much more severe than in previous years. So we do not have as many gold winner companies as last year. But it does not mean that Georgian companies are not producing as high quality wine. The jury just decided to make the conditions stricter.
Q. How does the jury assess Georgian wine in general?
A. From the very beginning, we have chosen a way of joint evaluation of presented wines by the leading Georgian and international experts. This helped our Georgian judges to appreciate the opinions of foreign experts as well which portray general quality requirements towards wines in the potential export markets. At the same time the foreign judges are wine writers for the leading editions and themselves can promote our country and Georgian wines. They publish articles in the newspapers where they work or put them on their blogs. These writers know the tastes of customers in the West. Customers read their articles and take into consideration the advice given by the writers. They publish really positive articles about Georgia and wine and this raises customer’s interest towards our country.
Q. How would you evaluate Georgian wine’s export potential?
A. Our traditional markets are still post-Soviet countries: Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus and the Baltic States. Export to Russia is still forbidden though Georgian companies are starting to enter the Russian market again. Despite the fact that export was forbidden, Georgian wine has been sold in Russia because Russians love Georgian wine. The Russian embargo played a positive role as well as a negative one. When I say a positive role I mean improvement of the quality of Georgian wine and covering new markets. Georgian companies were used to the Russian market and its requirements. To enter European markets they had to improve the quality and adjust to European standards.
Eastern Europe, America, China, Britain and other countries are all new markets for Georgian wine which have successfully been getting covered.
Q. How did you come up with the idea to establish the Wine History Foundation?
A. Davit Lortkipanidze, Director of the National Museum of Georgia and I came up with the idea to support research related to wine history, showing Georgia as an ancient winery country. The Georgian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Georgian National Museum supported idea to set up of the Wine History Foundation – Georgia – Cradle of Wine. The Foundation promotes Georgian culture, including wine culture, supporting the rise of wine production and consumption. The Wine History Foundation arranges consultations with wine producing companies, organising wine competitions, conferences, seminars and discussions.
The first national wine competition was held in 2006. This year the fourth national wine competition was held.
Our foundation aims to prove that Georgia is the cradle of wine. We have opponents who think that not only Georgia but the whole nearby territory which includes Armenia, Azerbaijan and Iran, is the cradle of wine. The biggest factual materials are found in Georgia however which proves that Georgia is indeed the cradle of wine. Our culture, traditions, history are all closely related to wine.
Q. What are the future plans of the foundation?
A. The Foundation will issue information and methodological materials on winemaking and wine history. A special webpage will be created and programme courses will be organized. The Foundation will establish relations with local as well as international organizations that have the same purposes. The special webpage will be a virtual museum of wine and will lead to the establishment of the real Wine History Museum.
We are also planning publication of a special wine magazine.
Any legal or physical person may become a member of the Wine History Foundation. As well as that there is a Wine Club that will regularly arrange meetings to discuss winery and wine tasting issues. Cultural events will be arranged in Georgia as well as abroad.