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Ghost Towns and Georgian Wine

Georgia is still seen as the country where the cultivated viticultur originated from. In no other country in there world there were indications that the viticultur has such a great past, as far as 5000 BC.

Despite this great history, Georgian wines are very unknown in western Europe and that has everything to do with the rocky past of the country. For centuries other nations tried to dominate the country, among them Turkey and Russia. This has led to under development for the country as its own entity. Independence came in 1990, but was immediately followed by a civil war that had led to even more decay. A greater part of the local population left the country, so a lot of villages, buildings and entire areas became abandonned.

For the category of 'Urbex and Wine' it seemed like a great idea to visit these areas, while enjoying a Georgian wine of course. Unfortunately travelling is still a bit tricky these days, so I decided to visit a ghost town a bit closer to home, namely the town of Doel in my home country of Belgium!

Of course I wouldn't dare to say that Doel has shared the same past as Georgia did, but the history of this town does count for something as well! Being a very cosy village near the port of Antwerp, it was revoked as a living area due to the extention of that same port. It never came to that however, leading the town to be almost completely abandonned today. Over the years people started leaving the town, but the biggest idle came in the late 90's, early 2000's . These days only a handful of people and roaming the empty streeds feels very exciting, but also a bit scary, nostalgic and so much more!

After a quick tour of discovery we decided to open up a bottle of Geogian wine. We found the perfect spot at an abandonned gas station and garage. We had a beautif Saperavi in our backpack, made from the indigenous variety with the same name, coming from the east part of the country, close to the border of Azerbaijan.

The wine was produced in a very traditional way by using Krevris. These are pottery jugs created for wine storage and aging. They get burried in the ground troughout the whole process. The coolest thing ever! This whole combinations gives the wine a very different character, which we do not really know back in Western- Europe. This sort of stuff is getting me hot!

The fruit aromas in the first nose, are quickly being replaced with aging notes and minerality, with every sip all of the characters inertwine with eachother. Think of red cherries, black berries, spiced plum, mint and eucalyptus.  

There is a fair amount of tannins, but they are very pleasant. They only come from the grape anyway, because there has been no aging on wood.

The wine goes deliciously with different stews of beef, veal, game or lamb. As long as somewhere in the dish there are some fresh fruit components, like for instance stewed cherriers or mint.

The Soviet domination has led to lesser wines in quality, a thing we see in so many Eastern European countries. However the whole region is working on a revivel and eager to show what it has in store for us! The grape varieties does offer some flavours that most Western Europeans still need to get used to, but has so much potential! This different character gets supported with a perfect terior and a very fortunate climate. Go to the real roots of the Vitis Vinifera and try a Georgian wine!

Picture credits: @JoeyMulders