Author: Oleksandra Hryhorieva
Sunny Tbilisi and welcoming WinExpo Georgia is a great combo! And with the Wine Travel Awards and Drinks+ participating in the expo, this is even better!
The WTA Awarding Ceremony, where the winners of all 6 nominations of the Wine Travel Awards (WTA) 2022-2023 were officially revealed, took place traditionally at the London Wine Fair. However, due to the fact that we had many Georgian companies and prominent figures among the winners, we decided to continue our celebration in Georgia where WinExpo Georgia became our exhibition partner.
WinExpo Georgia, a renowned wine industry exhibition with a consistent 15-year legacy, offers Georgian producers an exceptional platform to showcase their products to both domestic and global markets. Our main objective for the expo’s 2023 edition was to help visitors learn more about the dynamic and innovative WTA community, increase the number of its Georgian members and forge new partnerships and cooperation.
The WTA celebration in honour of the winners of the second edition marked the afternoon of 2 June with a great atmosphere. The WTA winners from Georgia got extra attention and were awarded with trophies and diplomas.
Our VIP guests – wine, tourism and HoReCa professionals, journalists and bloggers – were welcomed with a glass of Shobili 2018, an exclusive qvevri sparkling wine made according to SHUMI’s patented technology. Shobili 2018 was awarded with a gold medal at The Qvevri Wine Hunter Award Georgia 2022. As a welcome wine from SHUMI Winery, WTA attendees could also have Tsinandali, a dry white wine of the Iberiuli premium collection.
Our sincerest congratulations to SHUMI Winery who was chosen the winner in three different categories of the Visiting card of the country nomination – Must visit, Progressive Approach, Art & History Object – by three independent WTA judges! Stéphane Badet, lecturer at ISVV – Institute of Vine and Wine Science at the University of Bordeaux, specializes in wine economy, industry management, business, marketing and tourism for many years, gave the victory to the SHUMI Winery in the Must Visit category. Gergely Szolnoki, Professor of Market Research at Geisenheim University, made his choice also in favour of the famous historical Georgian winery in the Progressive Approach category. SHUMI won the Art & History Object judged by Sarah Abbott MW, Founder of Swirl Wine Group, marketing strategist, communications specialist, wine judge and writer. Besides, SHUMI became an absolute record-holder in different categories as a public voting winner.
Salome Lomsadze, Commercial Director at SHUMI Winery, received the award and noted how pleased the SHUMI’s team is that world-class wine tourism experts notice and recognize the long-term efforts of the winery’s team with high awards. Also, Salome explained why she appreciates the WTA project so much, because it is the epitome of modern international marketing, not just a “vanity fair”, but a “long-term play”, which today brings results to the nominees and all participants of the award.
We happily raised our glasses to such bright winners of the public vote from Georgia, awarding them with diplomas:
- Château Mukhrani – Must Visit category – a premier wine destination in Georgia committed to upholding the utmost standards in the production and delivery of all its products and services. It seamlessly merges the distinctiveness of Georgia with the finest international practices and expertise.
- Harvest Celebration at Chateau Mukhrani – Event of the Year.
- Gocha’s Collection – Askaneli Winery & Distillery – Brand – the Visiting Card of the Country.
- Askaneli Winery & Distillery – Progressive Approach – ranks within the top three wine production and vine farming companies. The company plays a significant role in safeguarding and promoting the cultivation of native grape varieties, thereby elevating the overall prestige of Georgian winemaking.
- WinExpo Georgia – Magnet of the Region.
Nino Gamrekeli, Creative Director at WinExpo Georgia, emphasized on how important common industry efforts are in promoting Georgia as an attractive enogastronomic destination. WinExpo Georgia’s role here is to become an international platform that contributes to this recognition.
The Brightest Journey category features two proactive promoters of Georgian wines who entered top 5 during the public voting stage this year:
- Daria Kholodilina, a Georgia-based wine tourism specialist and a big friend of Georgian wine, who kindly agreed to help us hold the event at WineExpo with the translation into Georgian.
- Sofia Nikabadze, a wine blogger who travels a lot around Georgia to discover some interesting small family cellars and introduce them to wine lovers.
During the awarding part of the celebration, Sofia shared her observations regarding the growing international interest in the Georgian wine industry and the changes that small wineries in Georgia pursue:
“Wine is a part of Georgian identity and culture, and it is, with rare exceptions, a kind of visiting card of Georgia for all visitors to Georgia. In recent years, the attitude towards Georgian wine has changed, more and more foreign experts, wine connoisseurs and consumers are interested in Georgian wine. The improvement of the quality of Georgian wine, the expansion of small wineries and the production of natural wine in Georgia, and at the same time the increased interest around the world, created a favorable ground for the development of wine tourism in Georgia as an independent tourist product.
Worldwide, the wine tourism industry is becoming more and more popular. Georgia has a great potential for the development of this sector. Ever since we earned the name of the homeland of wine, the world’s attention has been drawn to us. Many wineries have been restored and are being restored, winemakers provide places at family-hotels to their guests. More and more producers are thinking of creating a tourism product and not limiting themselves only to wine production. However, there is still much to be done in this direction.”
A holiday in Georgia lasts as long as you stay on this land. It is not surprising that the next day we went to Kakheti, Tsinandali, to celebrate International Sommelier Day at the beautiful SHUMI’s location. The invitation extended by the winery owners was warmly accepted by the managers of the Drinks+ media group, who assembled a remarkable team of experts. This exceptional group included renowned figures such as Robert Joseph, an esteemed WTA judge, celebrated wine writer, winemaker, and wine critic; Sofia Nikabadze, a well-known Georgian blogger and wine enthusiast; Yevgenia Nikolaychuk, a highly regarded Ukrainian wine expert and successful businesswoman; Galina Kochubeeva, the head of the representative office of the US Meat Export Federation; and Saba Kitiashvili, a prominent Georgian sommelier and the Chief Sommelier of SHUMI Winery. On International Sommelier Day, the journalists from D+ had the pleasure of celebrating alongside these exceptional professionals, while discovering the delights of sparkling wines and exploring the remarkable offerings of SHUMI Winery, including their impressive wine collection, museum of artifacts, and ampelographic collection, among others. It was a joyful moment that made us realize the remarkable world of wine tourism and the significant role played by the WTA community within it. We raise our glasses of sparkling qvevri in a toast to the magnificent world of wine!
Georgian exemplary wine tasting journey and festive buffet
In the framework of the event, the WTA team organized a walk-around tasting of exemplary wines produced by our Georgian nominees and partners in a pairing with premium American beef (thanks to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), sponsor of the celebration).
Galina Kochubeeva, representative of the U.S. Meat Export Federation in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Georgia, Ukraine and Mongolia, joined the event and briefly talked about the Federation’s activities devoted to promoting its premium products, supporting the most talented chefs and the most popular restaurants from different countries.
We invite you to hit the tasting road with us and discover those extraordinary wines!
SHUMI Winery presented by Saba Kitiashvili, Chief Sommelier of SHUMI Winery
Khikhvi Qvevri Iberiuli 2019 – dry amber qvevri wine.
Tasting characteristics: aromas of almonds, ripe pears, peaches and white cherries. Khikhvi Qvevri Iberiuli is medium-bodied and has a refreshing taste with pleasant acidity, velvety tannins and a long aftertaste.
Award: Platinum Medal at The Qvevri Wine Hunter Award Georgia 2022.
Salome 2020 – a limited edition dry red wine.
Wine style: elegant, complex, aged in oak. Tasting characteristics: The aroma intertwines subtle notes of violet, spices, a complex bouquet of ripe cherries and light cigars. The taste is smooth and velvety with a long aftertaste.
Awards: ‘Best of Show by Country’ trophy at the LWC London Wine Competition 2023; Gold medal at the Sakura Japan Women’s Wine Award 2023.
Bio Saperavi Iberiuli 2020 – dry organic red wine.
Tasting characteristics: Dark pomegranate wine is characterized by aromas of ripe cherries, blackberries, prunes and chocolate, with light tones of vanilla, tobacco and cloves. It is full bodied. It has a harmonious, intense, perfectly balanced taste, rich in velvety tannins, with a long aftertaste.
Awards: Georgian Red Trophy at the International Wine Challenge 2023; Gold medals at the Berliner Wein Trophy 2022 and the MUNDUS VINI grand international wine award spring tasting 2022.
An exclusive drink made from more than 300 rare grape varieties harvested in the SHUMI collection vineyard and prepared using SHUMI’s patented technology.
Vinification: During the fermentation in conical stainless steel tanks, extreme attention was given to an extraction aimed at fresh and fragrant aromas, full colors, and supple, elegant textures and tannins. Once the wine had run off its skins at the end of the fermentation, it was put through a full malolactic fermentation in oak barrels to fully bring out the finesse and expressiveness of the aromas. The aging process, which lasted approximately 12-14 months, then began and took place in 60 gallon French and Hungarian oak barrels, partly new and partly used once previously.
Awards: Gold medals at the MUNDUS VINI grand international wine award summer tasting 2022 and the China Wine & Spirit Awards 2021.
Château Mukhrani introduced by Giorgi Chikvaidze, brand ambassador
Collection Secret dry white 2019
Blend: Rkatsiteli 46 %, Chardonnay 33 %, Sauvignon Blanc 12 %, Goruli Mtsvane 7 %, Muscat 2 %.
Tasting characteristics: Crafted from prestigious Georgian and French grape varieties. The wine with unique taste and aromatic profile alongside perfect balance and long memorable aftertaste. Significant for Château Mukhrani wines.
Chef’s recommendation: Chicken breast in mandarin sauce. Best enjoyed with salads, seafood, and poultry. Excellent with salmon with fresh grapes and a delicate wine sauce.
Collection Secret dry red 2018
Blend: Saperavi 50 %, Cabernet Sauvignon 25 %, Syrah 17 %, Petit Verdot 8 %.
Color: Dark ruby red.
Bouquet: Fragrant intense and deep fruit bouquet of blackberry, black currant and mullberry, paired with fine sweet spices, vanilla, chocolate, black pepper, dried herbs, tobacco and earthy notes.
Taste: Elegant and complex structure. Dense Palate of jammy dark fruit, chocolate, spice, herbal and earthy notes. Well balanced oaky notes with full bodied medium palate and very long fresh fruity finish.
Chef’s recommendation: Pork tenderloin in mustard sauce. Best enjoyed with lamb or wild mushrooms, cooked with spices.
Shavkapito dry red 2020
Shavkapito 100%. Shavkapito is one of the oldest and rarest Georgian endemic red-grape varieties from the Kartli region. It has great potential to create subtle and elegant red wines with its distinguished style and perfect balance.
Chef’s recommendation: Steak made with dry-aged beef. Best enjoyed with red meat or game, fried, grilled or stewed with spices. Excellent with mature cheeses of different styles.
Tavkveri dry red 2017
Blend: Tavkveri 90% and Saperavi 10%. Tavkveri is one of the oldest and rarest Georgian endemic red-grape varieties from the Kartli region. It creates powerful and at the same time subtle and elegant red wines with its distinguished style.
Color: deep red.
Bouquet: Very floral bouquet, with licorice and black currant notes. Spicy and fresh acidity.
Taste: Fresh attack with nice pressure on tannins, chocolate, floral and spicy notes on dark fruits. Medium bodied and fresh finish on crispy tannins.
Chef’s recommendation: Dorado and ham. Best enjoyed with red meat and mature cheeses of different styles.
Réserve Royale Saperavi 2015
Saperavi 100%. Saperavi is the most famous Georgian endemic red-grape variety. It has all the noble characteristics to make one of the world’s outstanding red wines. It delivers rich, fruity wines of bountiful body and great vinosity.
Color: Brilliant Dark red
Bouquet: Intense and concentrated flavors of dark fruits behind fresh oaky notes. Wild fruits. Cassis, black berry, black pepper, spicy, velvety balsamic notes.
Taste: Very elegant attack on dark blackberry. Black chocolate. Black pepper. Full-bodied and long balsamic finish on fine tannins and minerality
Chef’s recommendation: Beef filet with demi-glace sauce. Best enjoyed with red meat or game, fried, grilled, or stewed. Excellent with mature cheeses of different styles.
GWS – Georgian Cradle of Wine
Vismino Bio Mtsvane from Maghraani vineyard
Type of Wine: White Dry
Color: Pale, with a bright rim.
Nose: Intense. Ripe white fruit and tropical fruit tones.
Palate: Mild with balanced acidity, providing freshness. Hints of citrus fruit.
Food Pairing: Smoked fish, mixed salads, chicken with herbs.
Vismino Ojaleshi from Martvili vineyard
Type of Wine: Red Dry
The name “vismino” means “I should be listening.” It perfectly transmits the essence of the brand, and invites all attentive “listeners”, observers, learners, experimenters to fully enjoy life’s experiences.
Color: Ruby colored with.
Nose: Cherry, currant and blackberry aromas.
Palate: Velvety, harmonious and rich varietal aromas, characterized by light acidity.
The flavours are powerful and lingering, carried by the tannins to the finish.
Food Pairing: Serve with poultry, grilled salmon, pasta and cheese.
Vismino Saperavi Cabernet Franc from Artana vineyard
Type of Wine: Red Dry
Color: Dark ruby color
Nose: distinct aromas of black mulberry, cherry and black currant, with velvety tannins and balanced acidity.
Palate: Fruit and spice aromas blend harmoniously with the delicate tones of aging in oak. Distinguished by long and pleasant endings.
Food Pairing: Perfect with grilled steak, mushrooms, chicken and fish.
Type of Wine: Red Semi-Sweet
Color: Dark ruby
Nose: Intense aromas of wild berries and other red fruit.
Palate: The balance and complexity of this wine is created by the combination between rich flavours and the tannic structure. Integrated acidity adds pleasant freshness to the wine.
Food Pairing: Lightly spiced dishes with meat or vegetables.
Colors of Georgia Akura 2016
Colours of Georgia is a rare collection of iconic wines produced from carefully selected parcels and crafted with the utmost care. Within them lies the quintessence of Georgia, the cradle of wine, and 3 remarkable terroirs of the Kakheti region.
This wine comes from an exceptional plot located at an altitude of 650 metres, facing East on a slightly sloping, pebble-strewn terrain over a two-metre-thick limestone subsoil.
Tasting notes: The nose offers enticing aromas of red and black fruits, blackberries and black plums, with elegant spices and soft, balanced notes from the barrel ageing. The palate is particularly full-bodied yet lacks any heaviness or bitterness. The mid-palate reveals a perfectly controlled tannic concentration and a beautiful expression of ripe fruit followed by a long finish. High cellaring potential (over 15 years).
The WTA Celebration and Walk-Around Tasting at WinExpo Georgia has been informationally supported by the Georgian Sommelier Association, Homeland of Wine magazine and Swirl Wine Group.
Our sincerest congratulations and the good wishes of future growth and prosperity to the WTA 2022-2023 winners!
We are inviting progressive wine & spirits companies, brands and tourism services to join the third exciting year of the WTA campaign! The doors of the Wine Travel Awards 2023-2024 are open for new collaborations and integrations.
Photo: Pavel Platonov, WTA