On Thursday, April 12, at the lovely Mediterranean restaurant Agora participants were treated to a four course meal featuring various wines from Georgia. That’s Georgia, the former Soviet Union located between Russia to the north and Turkey and Armenia to the south, not Georgia the state and home to Atlanta and Savannah. Virginie Ajot, marketing and sales representative of Georgian Wine House and U.S. brand ambassador of Chateau Mukhrani offered up a lesson on the history of Georgian wines; Georgia is actually the birthplace of wines. Carbon dating puts the region’s cultivation of grapes at about 5,000 B.C. and Georgian wines were referenced by Homer and Herodotus. There are over 500 grape varieties of local origin there and over 100 varieties of wild grapes—practically everyone in Georgia is an amateur vintner.
Which doesn’t mean that everyone in Georgia is a good vintner. Of the 500 varieties of grapes only about 10 are considered up to scale on the world market, and one of the guests remarked that he visited Georgia regularly and had usually found the quality of the wine he had drunk there to be very poor; which is why he was very pleasantly surprised by the evening’s tasting.
The frequent visitor to Georgia might not have been sampling from the best the country has to offer but tonight guests were. Chateau Mukhrani, began in the 1800’s when a member of the Georgian royal succession visited France. He came back with all the latest vintner techniques and proceeded to turn his entire fine estate into what would become his country’s premier vineyard. Of the four wines tasted that evening three were from Chateau Mukhrani and one, the dessert wine, was from Eniseli Wines a smaller boutique winery established in 2007. All four wines were primarily made from local grape varieties that could only be found in Georgia. Another guest Malcolm Britten, who had some familiarity with Georgian wines commented on how in his experience Georgian wines were good “food wines,” meant to be paired with dishes as part of a meal. That certainly seemed to be the case that evening.
For the First Course there was a delightful shellfish soup made with shrimp, scallops. Mussels, saffron fish fume, green peas, and served with toast. This lovely subtle soup was accompanied by Goruli Mtsvane 2009-a dry white wine. The Goruli Mtsvane has a color of the lightest gold, and an airy aroma, with a crisp clean taste. It is the perfect wine for a summer evening. This wine was 85% Goruli Mstvane with 15% of Chinuri and no use of oak.
Next in the evening was Grilled Mediterranean Branzino, (a local Mediterranean fish with its own slightly unique taste) served with olive oil bread and grilled lemon. The fish was grilled perfected and was perfectly complemented with the Chateau Mukhrani Takveri Dry Rose 2010. The Takveri is a bright coral color with a strong fruity aroma. Unlike most Rose wines the Takveri is dry rather than sweet. The Takveri is hand harvested and is 100% Takveri variety. This wine is available only in limited quantities; they produce only 5,000 bottles a year so it was a rare treat for guests.
For the third course we had a rare juicy petite filet mignon, served with mushrooms, a red wine reduction, and Tarragon with baby Zucchini Sun burst. There was a strong use of peppercorns on the filet which might have been appropriate given that all Georgian wines include a hint of pepper. This was paired with the Chateau Mukhrani Saperavi/Cabernet 2007 a dry red full bodied red wine with an inky color. It is somewhere between a burgundy and a bourdeaux. This wine was 60% Saperavi grapes and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. The native Saperavi grapes are in fact the ancestors of Syrah grapes and you can taste certain similarities. It is good to let this wine decant before serving or, failing that, swirl before drinking.
To finish the evening we had a decadent dark chocolate torte made with puff pastry and served with raspberry coulis paired with Eniseli Wines Kindzmarauli 2007. This semi-sweet red wine is so dark it was almost black with a complex bouquet and touch of spiciness that makes it perfect for serving with chocolate.
These wines and others from Chateau Mukhrani can be found at Potomac Wines and Spirits in D.C. or the Keilbasa Factory in Rockville. Also it must be said that the wines were allowed to show so well because of the expertly prepared Mediterranean cuisine and hospitable ambience of Agora.
1527 17th Street NW
Potamac Wines and Spirits
3100 M Street NW
1073 Rockville Pike