Certain producer names fix themselves in the mind both as impressive people when you meet them, or via a standout wine in a large line up tasting. Gogi Dakishvili was this man for me. He’s widely credited as being one of the most skilled and influential winemakers in the country. He is consultant to the large Schuchmann winery, where he overseas their excellent range of modern wines. But he also has his own project focusing on the traditional Qvevri vessels (clay amphora) for vinification and maturation. And this is where his passion lies. Both his wines, and also those from his son Temuri, whose Vita Vinea project is a quite separate operation, are made in this way.
Both producers are located in Telavi, in the heart of the Kakheti district. Kakheti is the most easterly wine region, perhaps also the warmest, and it was from here that all the wines which impressed me the most were made. The vines are planted on both banks of the wide valley of the Alazani river on its eastwards flow towards the Caspian sea (via Azerbaijan). It is bordered to the north by the magnificent Caucasian mountains. These provide a weather block as well as plentiful water year-round. They also provide a significant barrier to the large and not always friendly neighbour to the north. There is a huge range of different alluvial terroirs: clay, limestone, granite, schist . It’s an area which has already elicited considerable international investment, and there will be more in the future.