Ramaz Nikoladze Tsitska Tsolikouri Orange 2015

From an outsider’s perspective, Ramaz Nikoladze is a key figure in artisanal Georgian wine. For one thing, he is (or was) the Georgian head of Slow Food, which has helped make some really important links between Georgia and European winemakers. For another, he seems to be inexhaustible, and has proselytized, mentored and supported numerous younger people in wine in Georgia. Thanks to Ramaz (and other key players, like John Wurdeman) fine artisanal wine has a beautiful future in Georgia. We talk, sometimes rather casually, about a wine being traditional, but Ramaz’s wines are a close as you can get. First, the vines are co-planted with other crops – fruit trees, corn, and lots of edible plants. Only copper and sulfur are used in the vines. The vineyard looks chaotic to anyone used to commercial wine farming, but it’s also a kind of Eden, and full of life. And the winemaking is fundamentally ancient - grapes fermented in qvevri, sometimes with some of the skins, and aged until they are decanted for bottling. A blend of two grapes – Tsitska brings lemony acidity, Tslokouri, depth and texture. By Jamie Wolff
It tastes like long poached fruit, almost copper pot burnt and like heat caught in skin or red rock. Like dried bunch blue Fenugreek and heavy clumps of dark vine choking clay. It has a fleshy chew like mosquitoes scarring your ankles while they rub mushrooms in the dark cooked in garlic and coriander fresh ground by a handsome generation-worn stone. It’s got scratchy stems and elephant-foot skins sparring under melting ricotta unity. Hot broke-apart cornbread grit steaming and tangy green tomato pickle in cold fridge jars acidity with a hint of napkin-wrapped spices and Ramaz’s chillies bit hole.

HKD $380
Nakhshirgele, Georgia
Less than 3,000 bottles per year; Grape: Tsitska and Tsolikouri.