As promised here, I started educating myself about Georgian wine.
Why Georgia? The first cultivated grapevines originated in that country some 8,000 years ago. If this is accurate, Georgia is the cradle of wine making. There it all got started.
Georgia wine-producing regions have various climate and soil
conditions, influencing the taste of the wine. On top,
Georgia has over 500 (!) indigenous grape varieties. Enough for a
lifetime of tasting.
And Georgia is the home to a unique production method in wine making.
The wine is aged and stored in a special cone-shaped clay vessel, known as kvevris:
A vessel holds between 200 and 3,500 liters and is placed in the ground to help regulate storage temperature, keeping it between 14 and 15°C.
This old, traditional production method gives the wine a very unique taste. It is very different from "European" aging in casks or metal tanks.
Different from Europe, where wine makers are allowed to add stuff to the wine, like grape juice and sometimes even sugar, the Georgian wine made in vessels remains the way it is. The grapes are harvested, put into the vessel, which is sealed and that's it. No additives, no mixing or blending, you get the original, natural product.
Most casks or metal tanks are cleaned with sulfur. In Georgia the vessels are cleaned with lemon. That should make a difference in taste as well.
Some wine is aged for two years only. But some families set up a wine, when a child is born, and open the vessel for the child's wedding or 18th birthday.
More about Georgian wine after my first tasting.