“Georgian wines, the great ones, are in demand. France, Italy, London, Japan and increasingly New York are importing. Japan is super nuts over wines from this country” Alice Feiring
Iago Bitarishvili has always worked organically in his small vineyard in Chardahki (total production is probably around six thousand bottles) and been passionate about preserving the local traditions, never being even slightly seduced by newfangled techniques.
Iago works with only one variety – the light-skinned and late-ripening Chinuri – although he makes two versions of it; one with skin contact and one without. The skinny one is gently crushed before the whole bunches are surrendered to the clay and remain there for six months or so to accrue colour, body and tannin.
Nothing is rushed here. Iago’s skin-contact white is left to nestle in the earth for around ten months before bottling although it is transferred from one qvevri to another during that time. With a strong yeast population, the ambient fermentation will proceed healthily and Iago will break the cap to allow the gases to escape. The malolactic proceeds naturally once the qvevri have been topped up and towards the end of the year the jars are sealed wherein a large flint stone or a piece of glass and is then further sealed with wet clay and covered in damp sand.