294 varieties of Georgian grapes plus 94 varieties of European grapes grow in the Shumi vineyard, in Tsinandali, Telavi region of Georgia. From this extensive library vineyard Shumi, which means ‘best wine’ in ancient Georgia, makes a special mistella style wine that is not reproducible. Each year it changes depending on the field blend. As in the mistella style, Shumi adds the Chacha, produced from the same grape must, during the fermentation. The result is a highly aromatic beautifully amber wine that tastes like nectar. This will be one of the most collectible wines produced in Georgia.
In addition to this unique wine, Shumi produces oaked and unoaked Saperavi. In this culture where out of 525 grape varieties most wineries produce only the top five or six, different styles of wine production create the only distinctions. Just as unoaked Chardonnay gave new life to Chardonnay in the USA, so oak aging gives new life to Saperavi in Georgia. Traditionally Saperavi is fermented and aged without oak.
Another unique beverage of Georgia that the Shumi staff graciously invited us to experience was the Chacha production.
The grape mash is boiled, distilling this regional “grappa” style liqueur. It is twice distilled while guests eat BBQ, drink wine and bake and break bread together. Then the newly distilled Chacha is served with many rounds of toasts.
When visiting Shumi be sure to see their museum which features the oldest of wine artifacts including a qvevri from 1200 BC. For more information visit www.shumi.ge