Why Georgia’s future is so exciting

Wine consultant, Sarah Abbott MW, explains why she is so excited to be part of the dynamic and breakthrough work being done by Wines of Georgia (Hall 1, Stand BC323) and its producers to re-invent its wines for the world’s leading international markets.

In the past three decades Georgia has come from civil war and great hardship to astonishing recovery. But until recently, the Georgian wine sector did not have the structures we take for granted in say France, Italy and Australia.

When President Putin banned imports of Georgian wine in 2006, it was a disaster for Georgian wine. But Georgians are incredibly creative and determined, and the story of the last 10 years has been how Georgia can now compete on the world stage of wine.

What is driving those changes?

Georgia now has a national wine agency, which is part of the Ministry of Agriculture. Wine is a priority product for the ministry and it is booming. The World Bank rates Georgia as the top CIS country in ‘ease of doing business’. As a result the number of wineries has exploded over the last five years.

How do you see the future for Georgian wine?

Georgia is in a fantastic position. The wine potential is huge and is increasingly being met. They have thousands of years of unbroken wine tradition, hundreds of native varieties and diverse wine styles.

Georgia’s positioning is more like New Zealand in terms of price and quantity. The Georgian agencies have been visionary in integrating wine tourism, food tourism and cultural tourism.

What styles of Georgian wine do you think best work best?

The dry whites are lively and gently aromatic and remind me of Gruner Veltliner and Alvarinho. The aromatic dry whites are generally unoaked, have naturally fresh acidity, creamy textures, and food- friendly length.

The hero of the dry reds is Saperavi which range from bright, red-cherry and lively to sumptuous, spicy, and oak- aged.

Saperavi has huge potential, and is probably the noblest grape that most people have never heard of.

There is also a lot of interest in the off-dry reds. These are an historic wine style of Georgia. It is also making good sparkling and rosé styles.