Thursday, November 3, 2011

An Introduction to the Qvevri, the mother of all wine vessels.

Georgia, the former Soviet republic of, is a land where autos share the road with pigs, sheep, and donkeys. The food pops with flavor, and wine is so knit into daily life that an extension devoted to its creation is as common in most homes as a kitchen. In these rooms, large amphorae called qvevri are planted into the soil and filled with fermenting grape juice. Often referred to as the original winemakers, Georgians have used the jugs in their vinification for eons, perhaps even as far back as 6000 B.C.

Yet it took an Italian to make qvevri chic.

The modern legend dates to the end of the last century. Friulian winemaker Josko Gravner had decided to pare back his own winemaking to the basics. His search for simplicity led him to Georgia. Qvevri - the Bentleys of the amphora family - seemed ideally suited to low-intervention winemaking. Burying them in the ground provided instant temperature control, perfect for natural fermentation. The point at the bottom of the vessel collected the grape crud, so no fining or filtering was necessary. And the ceramic material imparted little or no flavor to the juice.

Gravner first made his all-qvevri wine in 2000 and loved the results. The media treated his story as an oddity. Then he sold his wine for $120 a bottle. Other vintners in Italy, Slovenia, and Austria soon followed his example and snapped up the large ceramic containers. They also rubbed the Georgians the wrong way by referring to the jug as an amphora. Georgia would like the world to know, please, that qvevri refers to a specific citron-shaped clay vessel, lined protectively with molten beeswax and meant to be planted in the soil. {Read on}

An Introduction to the Qvevri 

The mother of all wine vessels.  By Kate

It is a hot topic at this Symposium.  Is an Amphora essentially a slightly differently shaped Qvevri (pronounced K-WHERE-VREE) or is it a different entity altogether?

Or at least as different as two vessels,  both made of clay and which both hold wine at some point can ever be.

I remain, overall, none the wiser on the above question but  I am now well versed in the subject of Qvevri and, for any wine enthusiast, it is a subject well worth knowing.

For a natural wine enthusiast, it is elementary.

A Qvevri then is a large, clay vessel used for  both the fermentation and ageing of wine.   The fact that it does both is vitally important as the Amphora vs Qvevri debate grows most heated around the subject of whether or not Amphora were only ever used for transportation. {Read on}