Our Mangal Mondays series of events has come
to an end on the 26th of June, and we had a blast collaborating with some great
chefs, which happened to be lovely people to work and hang out with.
For this series I came up with a wine list of
Georgian, Greek and Turkish wines only; guests had to find their way getting
out of their comfort zone and picking bottles made of obscure grape varieties –
to us – such as Rkatsiteli, Shavkapito, Xinomavro, Yapinkak and many more.
It was fun even though I’m almost certain that the
75% of guests cursed at me throughout the entire evening.
One of the highlights were the wines from Joni Okro. in Georgia, a
family-run cellar in the small town on Sighnaghi in the Kakheti region of Eastern Georgia. Joni established in 2004 the estate which covers 5.5ha of vineyards, where he works with six Georgian varieties of grapes: Rkatsiteli, Mtsvane, Saperavi,
Budeshuri, Tsolikouri and Tavkveri. It’s all about natural wine growing and wine making
and no additives or sulphur are used in the making of the wine.
Georgian wines? Using Doug Wregg (Les Caves de
‘Georgia is, of course, the birthplace of wine
and the country with the oldest and most continuous tradition of winemaking.
The etymology of the word ‘wine’ is said to stem from the Georgian
word govino. Wine for Georgians is much more than just a beverage. Historically,
wine was not only the basis of economic wealth, but also part of spiritual
‘Joni’ Okro is one of the most respected natural winemakers in Kakheti, where
he concentrates on traditional long skin contact amber wines; like many
other producers in Georgia, the focus of winemaking lies in the passion for
ancient winemaking rituals. That implies fermentation in Qvevri and several
months of skin maceration.
His wines are
sourced from cool high altitude vineyards instead of the warmer plains his
wines retain freshness and vitality and have concentration levels rarely seen.
He also works with grapes from Kartli and Imereti. His vineyards are farmed
naturally and zero additions ensure the wines remain ‘alive’ in the bottle.
Joni shares his time between his job in Tbilisi as a Telecommunications
Engineer, farming and producing his traditional family wines and recently
running a popular tasting room and restaurant above his cellar in Signagni.
What a guy!