A ​Gorgeous Orange From the “Cradle of Wine”

A ​Gorgeous Orange From the “Cradle of Wine”

Posted by Veronika Jelenik on April 08 2022 3:25pm

It comes as a surprise to lots of people that Georgia, the country located in the Caucuses between Eastern Europe and Western Asia, is widely considered the birthplace of wine. Most think of Italy or France first, but it was in fact the people of the South Caucuses who first discovered that grape juice could ferment into a tasty and fun beverage when kept in giant clay vessels underground for the winter. 

The discovery dates back to 6,000 B.C., but Georgia, aka the “cradle of wine,” is still producing some of the most delicious (and now trendy) wines, including orange, or what they call “amber” wine—white grapes fermented with their skins to create a more layered, tannic, and amber-hued beverage. 

Many Georgian producers are still using the ancient method of fermenting in qvevri—those giant clay vessels kept underground that started the whole wine phenomenon in the first place—and Gotsa Wines is no exception. 

The family-run winery’s head winemaker is Beka Gotsadze, the great-grandson of Konstantin Gotsadze, who started the winery in the 19 th century. Gotsa plants 14 indigenous Georgian varietals and has 40 qvevris on site at their winery in Kiketi. The amber wine I tried this week was a 50/50 blend of Tsolikouri and Tsitski (say that five times fast). 


Winemaker Beka Gotsadze of Gotsa Wines in Kiketi, Georgia.

In the glass, it was the definition of amber-colored, a gorgeous burnt orange hue. On the nose, I got notes of honey, ginger, orange peel, and dried apricot. I chilled it for about an hour before drinking it, which brought the temperature down a bit but not so much that I couldn’t decipher the complexity of the notes—I would recommend enjoying it this way. 

On the palate, I got notes of dried stone fruit, quince, baked apple, and spices, like cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg. It had a nice mouthwatering acid, a medium body, and a tannic finish reminiscent of over- steeped black tea. It was clean, pure, and lean, with just a touch of gin-like astringency accompanied by notes of botanicals like juniper. It also had a great level of minerality and a round body that could be attributed to its aging in clay amphorae. 

I love Georgian orange wines because they are so traditional and steeped in history. Modern drinkers sometimes overlook old-world regions in favor of trendier, funkier, or better marketed wines, but I am a strong advocate for enjoying wines made with centuries-old methods that put authenticity first. 

This wine was layered and complex and could be enjoyed on its own or with a variety of savory dishes. If you’re new to orange wine, I highly recommend trying one from Georgia first—start from the source and work your way forward. You’re sure to appreciate this one as much as I did.