When white wine is described as produced in the “traditional Georgian method” (as opposed to the “classical method,”), it means that the wine is made in an egg-shaped earthenware vessel, known as Qvevri, which is used for making, ageing and storing the wine.
If fully made according to the old tradition, whole clusters of grapes (with stalks) are run into a Satsnakheli, a wooden trough, typically a carved, single piece of wood. The grapes are foot-trod, so as not to damage the pips, then the must is run off directly into Qvevri. After pressing, the “chacha” (skins, pips, and stalks) are added to the Qvevri for the alcoholic fermentation, which may last any 20-40 days, depending on the variety and the quality of the vintage. Once the fermentation is completed and the cap starts to sink, the filled Qvevri will be capped with stone or glass lids for the malolactic fermentation; the lids are then sealed hermetically with limestone clay or earth, and left in the ground until spring (typically late March or early April). Then the wine is separated from chacha and run off into another Qvevri for another year of aging. The process is similar for red grapes, but the period of skin maceration is shorter: usually one month, rather than four to six. Qvevri-produced wines have a firm tannic texture across the palate; whites develop aromas of apricots, orange peel, and nuts, dries flowers; the reds become slightly meatier, with a chalkier texture.
Qvevri wine is known for rich chemical composition, its distinctive bouquet and taste and for its nutritional and curative qualities.
Through the ages up until today, all home winemakers in Georgia have made wine in Qvevri. During the 20th century, commercial use of Qvevri declined as winemaking in this manner is quite labor intensive; they were viewed as inefficient. Today, however, a renewed interest in Qvevri has revived this method of production, not just in Georgia, but around the world.
In 2013 Qvevri wine-making method was inscribed in UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Besini Qvevri Wine
Our company first started making Qvevri wine in 2014 and since then, every year, we have been growing the number of Qvevri vessels in our winery as well as the assortment of wine made in this traditional Georgian method.