Georgian experiences

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Discovery of the Georgian vineyards

Wine is an ancient Georgian culture. It’s taking a big part of the economic, social and cultural life of the country.

The specificity of this drink is the vinification procedure, done in “Qvevri”. This name comes from the earthenware jar used to ferment the wine before storage. 

It was in the Kakheti region, at the East of Georgia, on the hills before Tbilisi, that we stopped in a vineyard. 

We have been warmly welcomed by Niki Antadze in his house. Accompanied by his daughter, this ex-boss of a night club showed us his treasure and its traditions. 

Three acres of old vines (including some having over 100 years) overlook the valley and the scenery of Caucasia. 

In the cave of this organic wine producer, the wine is being fermented and aged in one of the 8 earthenware jars. The soil has been dug to place these jars. The production is low but Niki started with nothing. Today, he wants to make a good quality, by pleasure, that he exports mainly in Germany and France.

On the shady terrace and around a wide wooden table, we tasted the wine with Georgian bread, cheese, olive oil and tomatoes from the garden. We were surprised by the wine. The first tastes was a sparkling white wine. An unusual tasting as it was very different to the French champagne and the Italian Prosecco, with fine bubbles and a mineral taste. The dry white wine was very fruity with a note of “soil” due to its ageing in earthenware jar. The red wine was more classic but a bit acid for us, maybe it was too young. We enjoyed this great moment of sharing in all simplicity.

Once the tasting and the visit of the vineyard were finished, we went back on the road towards the Georgian capital with 5 bottles of this surprising white wine in our cases. 

A night in the restaurant of Khertvisi

By going towards the historic place of Vardzia, we crossed a dangerous storm of hail. We found a shelter in the “Café Tourist”, a restaurant in the village of Khertvisi. Located at the bottom of the fortress of Khertvisi, the inn seemed to be under its protection. A perfect place due to the storm. 

While we waited a lull, the boss of the restaurant prepared the lunch. He arrived with different plates reminding us the Mediterranean cuisine. Once our stomachs were full, we went back on the road to discover the troglodyte city of Vardzia, just a few kilometres further. 

Once we went through the labyrinths, we went back to the “Café Tourist” where we hoped spending the night. But it was hard to understand each other as the boss knew only a few English words. Usually closed, we understood he was sorry for not having a lot of food for the diner. We reassured him and helped him for cooking. We prepared the fries while he was making some salads. We spent the evening with Simon and Claudia, a German couple travelling with a Volkswagen van, parked next to the UAZ van for the night. 

It was windy. We shared the homemade “Chacha”, the local eau-de-vie, and the wine made from the vines of his garden. The “Chacha” was kept in a big plastic bottle of 5 litres and the wine was in soda bottles of 50cl. 

We understood that we were not authorised to leave this table without finishing all the bottles… but it was a fail for us! As there was a storm outside, the boss accepted to put our sleeping bags and mattresses in the restaurant room. 

The following day, we woke up with a big headache. The Chacha let its marks…