Nagy & Sons Vineyards consciously chooses the authentic way of winemaking in qvevri.
Qvevri is the Georgian name for the large conical amphora in terracotta or baked earth in which wine ferments and ripens.
Using amphorae is the oldest way of winemaking. Archaeological excavations revealed that this method has been used in Georgia since at least 6000 BC, making Georgia the oldest wine-producing country in the world. Their traditional method in qvevri was inscribed on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2013.
The Georgian winemaking process involves pressing the grapes by hand. The juice will then be poured into the qvevri together with the grape skins, pips and stalks to ferment and ripen for 8 to 9 months. The solids sink to the bottom of the amphora leaving the clear wine on top. Nagy & Sons leaves their wines unfiltered or slightly filtered. Due to the long maceration with skins, pips and stalks, their white and red wines contain more tannins and hence more antioxidants than when wines are fermented on mere juice, which is more beneficial for our health.
Winemaking in amphorae has many advantages.
Just like when using wooden barrels, the wine in earthenware amphorae enjoys micro-oxygenation albeit subtler. The taste of the wine is purer because there is no influence of wood and austere tannins. The clay used to make the Georgian amphorae is carefully selected as characteristics such as the mineral content may influence the wine. The thicker sides of the qvevri allows for a more stable temperature, just like the traditional Georgian method of digging them into the earth. The inner walls of the qvevri are impregnated with bees wax.
Winemaking in amphorae makes the wine naturally more stable, and consequently allows to minimise or even omit the addition of sulphites completely.
White qvevri wines
Nagy & Sons produces dry white wines.
Particularly for the white amphora wines is that these are made with the vinification method used for making red wine.
The higher tannin content gives them more body with an atypical taste.
Therefore, these wines are not only enjoyed chilled but even at cellar temperature.
The wines benefit from some aeration in the glass or a carafe.
Text by Michele Cordaro
Photography by Lulu Starr