In one of the most ancient and diverse winemaking countries in the world, a Georgian and a Frenchman have laid down roots. By combining ancient and rare Georgian varieties and traditions with Champenois know-how, the two are creating groundbreaking wines that are unlike anything the world has seen before.
People: Nino Gvantseladze & Bastien Warskotte
Place: The Shida Kartli, Kakheti and Imereti regions, Georgia
Varieties: Rkatsiteli and Saperavi (from Kakheti), Chinuri, Goruli Mstvane and Tavkveri (from Shida Kartli) and from Imereti; Vani Chkhaveri, Dzelshavi, Tsitska and Aladasturi
Did You Know? When it comes to the traditional method (like how sparkling wine is produced in Champagne), Bastien was frustrated at the model of adding sugar and yeast to the bottle in order to create a second fermentation. So, he began dwelling on what he could do to create his own, more natural version, taking inspiration from Pascal Agrapart’s Experience cuvée. He says,
"I thought, why not use honey instead of sugar and yeast? So I did, and it worked! Then I froze some juice during fermentation and kept it in the freezer. Then, in January I put it in the bottles. That worked too. The problem is that you need around 10% of the juice to freeze, and that means you need loads of freezer space. So now, with the Areva cuvée, I let the wine go dry, and then add honey. So the bubbles created are from the honey, not from the sugar of the juice, as there isn’t any. But the yeasts are still alive as it’s only three weeks after the fermentation finished. So it’s its own unique style. It’s super juicy and drinkable."
Natural Winemaking & Qvevri
They decided to take a totally different route to the one Bastien had been taught at enology school. They both felt compelled to make natural wine. Bastien explains,
“I studied enology. You basically learn how not to make natural wine, but rather how to make wine by using as many products as possible in order to fulfil the industry. That’s unfortunately the same with agriculture. There are big companies behind these products. So, they teach you that you need to add this enzyme… that yeast… every kind of product. And well, that’s not the way it should be. Because at the end of the day, you can make wine from just grapes.”
They make both still and sparkling wines, with a variation of skin contact, aged in both barrels and the traditional Georgian qvevri. Being from France, working with qvevri was a whole new world for Bastien: