Iago’s Chinuri 2017 (with skin contact) was fermented and aged traditionally with the skins in qvevri for six months. His only intervention is a sprinkle of sulphur, bringing the total SO2 to a miniscule 28 mg/litre.
Iago explains “If the whole winemaking process proceeds naturally like this, it makes a better wine. I almost never have to intervene with my skin contact Chinuri, whereas for the wine made without skin contact it often needs my help”. This is a young qvevri wine, still very tight on the nose, but there’s a note of kiwi fruit and green apple. With the first sip, I was struck by the wine’s purity, the very fine tannins and elegant finish. The slight hint of mint is apparently quite typical. It balances wonderfully here with pear fruit, honey, dried sage, thyme and wet stone/mineral elements.
Qvevri wines are almost always fascinating, but they very rarely reach this level of finesse. This is true fine wine making from someone who clearly works hard both in the vineyard and the winery. Iago confirmed that the soft, fine texture – even after six months of skin contact – is due to lower yields in the vineyard. Iago has pioneered in so many ways – in 1998 he began conversion to organic agriculture, gaining Georgia’s first organic certification in 2005.
“Georgia was just big wineries when I started”, he remarks, “and there was so much pollution in the vineyards after the wars”. His work has clearly acted as a catalyst, a spur for many others to renew their interest in traditional Georgian winemaking. Iago also makes cha-cha (Georgian grape spirit), and beer according to his grandmother’s recipe.
And his talented wife Marina also happens to be a winemaker, producing a delicious Mtsvane.