We are a wine shop that explores the best of both worlds with retail shopping and a walk-in tasting room open Tuesday through Sunday. Our tasting room selections change monthly and always focus on a different "Old World" and "New World" region. The ever-changing menu allows our guests to constantly explore and discover something new. This month we are changing things up and exploring the two old world regions of Burgundy and the Republic of Georgia. Order a flight of all four wines or simply stop by, shop, and enjoy a glass. It's up to you!
“There are many ways to the recognition of truth, and Burgundy is one of them.” — Isak Dinesen
Burgundy is a small region in the heart of eastern France that runs north/south from Dijon down to Lyon. Home to some of the most sought after and elite wines on the planet, the region has been obsessed over for centuries. As many have waxed poetically over the years, a great bottle of Burgundy is a work of art that can move a wine drinker in ways like no other. For many wine lovers, Burgundy is simply the pinnacle. Does it live up to all the hype? Well, this month, we are presenting an opportunity to taste with us and decide for yourself.
While a handful of grape varietals are grown in the region, there are two that steal the show and make up most of the wines, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. These are single varietal wines labeled and focused on the place of origin. For example, a bottle labeled Puligny-Montrachet is assumed to be Chardonnay coming from the commune of Puligny-Montrachet. Over the years, some producers have started putting the grape varietal on the bottles to help international consumers, but that is more common in entry level wines.
The climate is cool and continental with a long growing season providing a slower ripening process for the grapes. Gradual ripening allows for complex flavor development creating captivating, aromatic wines that are hunted and sought after by the most avid wine drinkers around the world. The unique limestone and limestone-rich clay below the topsoil also plays an enormous role in the wines and is the source for the vivid mineral core that hits the palate in both red and white wines.
The vineyards can be traced back to Roman times, but it was the monks of the Middle Ages who cataloged the complexity and specificity of the vineyard sites ultimately leading to the “cru” understanding that we have today. Crus are singular vineyard sites that are ranked, with “Premier Cru” and “Grand Cru” at the top levels respectively. At the time, most of the vineyards were owned by the church, but the French revolution ultimately gave the vineyards back to the people. Why is this important? The Napoleonic Code was implemented in 1804 and contained inheritance laws that required equal distribution of land to all heirs as property was passed down through generations. Over time, vineyards began to be divided into smaller and smaller pieces. The law would ultimately influence production methods as many cooperatives and negociants took shape as a biproduct of the fragmented ownership.
There are five main subregions of Burgundy starting with the more remote area of Chablis to the north. Known for its zippy, energetic versions of Chardonnay, the wines of Chablis are invigorating and fresh and typically only see barrel aging in the Grand Cru level wines. The appellation is known for its unique kimmeridgian (marl and clay) soils composed of ancient seashells that give the wines notable minerality and often flinty characteristics.
Moving south, the heart of the region is a 30-mile limestone slope known as the “Côte d’Or”. Often called the “slope of gold”, the Côte d’Or is actually short for Côte d’Orient, referencing the eastern-facing nature of the slope that brings morning sun to the vines. This subregion is home to the most prestigious villages and some of the wines in highest demand. Communes like Gevrey-Chambertin and Vosne-Romanée lie in the northern part of the Côte d’Or where Pinot reigns. Further south, Chardonnay dominates in villages such as Puligny-Montrachet, Meursault, and Chassagne-Montrachet. South of the Côte d’Or are the Côte Chalonnaise and Mâconnais. The whites in these two subregions take on richer flavor profiles as the weather is a bit warmer, but overall, the wines still tend to carry a more acid-driven and mineral character. Lastly, technically part of Burgundy, Beaujolais is a subregion that stands on its own further to the south. You will find a few whites, but the wines of Beaujolais are primarily reds driven by the gamay grape grown on their own unique granite soils. Beaujolais really deserves its own separate write up!
Except for the sparkling offer in this month’s flight, we are primarily focused on wines from the Cote d’Or. Being the most prestigious subregion, putting the flight together was no small task. Prices have been on the higher end for some time, but modern-day demand has exponentially pushed the wines out of reach for most everyday consumers. Not only are prices high, but the past few vintages have left supply very short, making access to the wines even more difficult. We hope you enjoy your exploration of this flight. It’s more than a great opportunity to experience this legendary region.
First, let us clarify that we fully understand that The Republic of Georgia is NOT a New World wine region. In fact, in 2015, when archaeologists found traces of winemaking on 8,000-year-old pottery shards in Georgia, the tiny former Soviet republic claimed the crown as the world’s oldest wine producer. That’s right. Not Bordeaux. Not Burgundy. Not Piedmont. The Republic of Georgia. So, why are we showcasing this ancient wine region on our New World platform? Well, for the sole reason that for most of us, including the 2A Wine Cru, Georgia is an incredibly new wine region of discovery that is seeing a huge revival with a new generation of wine makers combining old world tactics and philosophies along with new world inspiration. Furthermore, since the United States is the number two export market for Georgian wines, these wines are coming to a store near you sooner rather than later!
Being located at the edge of global empires, Georgia has been suppressed throughout centuries of Persian, Roman, Ottoman, Mongol, Soviet and other invasions. Political unrest. Social unrest. Economic unrest. The local people were struggling just to live authentically, as Georgians, literally giving their lives to preserve their unique language and culture, as well as their right to make wine. In Georgia, wine is an economic asset as well as a source of identity and national pride. Traditional winemaking in Georgia has always been a home endeavor, infused with history, religion and mythology with references dating back to the fourth century. A mystical legend tells how soldiers wove a piece of grapevine into the chain mail protecting their chests before going out to battle, so when/if they died a vine sprouted not just from their bodies, but their hearts. If that isn’t homage to the juice, we have no idea what is. But before we get too deep into all that, let’s have a quick geography lesson.
The country of Georgia sits on the eastern edge of the Black Sea, roughly 621 miles east of Rome, where Europe and Asia intersect. It borders on Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Turkey, and has a square mileage slightly smaller than the state of Maine. Georgia stretches between the Greater Caucasus Mountains to the north and the Lesser Caucasus to the south.
If we know anything about Georgian wine, we know that its reputation is mostly built on white wines. In fact, of the 525 different grape varieties which have been recorded, 75% of those are white varietals. Georgia is known for their orange wines. Most of their white wines stay in contact with their skins, often for months, and further ferment in huge clay amphorae, known as qvevri. Remember, the techniques used by old and new Georgian wine makers dates back 8,000 years, so time and temperature control without modern devices is deeply rooted. These large, tapered, egg-shaped vessels, often 1,000 or more liters, are buried underground to keep temperatures constant during fermentation and aging. Using the traditional method, winemakers ferment the juice and skins together. Skin contact turns what would otherwise be white wines into amber wines (orange wines) with tannins. As a side note, winemakers also use qvevri for red wines. Qvevri’s are still made by hand by Georgia’s master qvevri-making families, and with the rising popularity of amber and natural wines, the demand for qvevri production is on the rise both in Georgia and internationally. In 2021, qvevri was granted Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status. This PGI status legally established Georgia as the place of origin as well as codifies its shape, capacity, raw materials, and production method; lets call it the ‘Qvevri Law’.
There are five main wine regions in Georgia. The main region is Kakheti, which produces 70% of all Georgian grapes. Traditionally, Georgian wines carry the name of the source region, district or village, much like the French regional wines of Burgundy and Bordeaux. As with Bordeaux, Georgian wines are usually a blend of two or more grapes. The five wine regions are: Kakheti, Karti, Imereti, Racha-Lechkhumi and Adjara. As stated earlier, there are close to 575 different varietals grown in Georgia, but only 38 varieties are officially grown for commercial viticulture. To further simplify the education process, we have limited this month’s flight to just four: Mtsvane and Tsolikoluri to represent Team White and Rkatsiteli and Saperavi to represent Team Red. We believe that each selection represents the region and varietal character that makes these wines so intriguing, complex, and delicious.
The Republic of Georgia has come a long way in recent times, but there is still a long road for the current farmers and winemakers to receive the recognition they crave and deserve. Truthfully, the terroir of Georgia is finally being explored the way it should. The industry is working hard to improve and understand their land as they produce world class wines, but the energy and dedication is there. Investments are being made locally and internationally to take more control of viticulture. It is time you taste the wines and experience how far they have come. Trust us, it's only a matter of time before someone will be knocking on your door for you to take notice.
Republic of Georgia Flight
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We now host curated tastings for groups of two to ten people. Our tastings are a great way to explore wines that are new to you or indulge in some of your favorite regions. Whether you are looking to learn or to simply relax, our team has you covered.