At The Wine Society, buyer Freddy Bulmer says the focus is on making sure wine is, first and foremost, fun. As part of his job for the co-operative and the world’s oldest wine club, Bulmer travels far and wide searching for undiscovered gems around Austria, New Zealand, Australia and eastern Europe.
At the most recent IWSC northern hemisphere judging, Bulmer was put to the test to analyse wines from inside and outside his remit, tasting wines from around the Caucasus, and further afield.
Bulmer tasted from a wide range of countries, but it was Georgia, arguably the birthplace of wine, that most impressed him. ‘I was really struck by the quality of wines coming from the Kakheti region, in particular the quality of qvevri wines – a category which can so often be disappointing. But when the wines are good, they are really good, as was the case during the judging,’ said Bulmer.
Lebanon also impressed, with Domaine Wardy’s Château les Cedrés – a Shiraz-dominant red – showcasing bold fruits and herbs. There was even a silver medal for a fortified Turkish red by Kavaklidere Saraplari – Tatli Sert Öküzgözü 2011 – using the indigenous Öküzgözü grape variety. Bulmer stated it was something he had never tried before, and that he was impressed by its flavours of toffee apple, spice and, charmingly, Turkish Delight.
Teliani Valley JSC’s Glekhuri Rkatsiteli Qvevri 2019 was another highlight for Bulmer. ‘I was blown away by the complex flavours of marmalade, gingerbread and ripe nectarines. This was without question one of the best qvevri wines I’ve tried.’
Read on to see Freddy Bulmer’s top eight wines from Georgia and eastern Europe from the IWSC 2021.
Top Rated Bottles
Teliani Valley JSC, Glekhuri Rkatsiteli Qvevri 2019
Tbilvino, Napareuli 2016
JSC Telavi Wine Cellar, Marani Mukuzani 2019
Teliani Valley JSC, Glekhuri Kisiskhevi Saperavi Qvevri 2019
Domaine Wardy, Château les Cedrés 2010
Kavaklidere Saraplari, Tatli Sert Okuzgozu 2011
Russian Wine House Abrau-Durso, Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
Kavaklidere Saraplari, Pendore Harmonie 2018
Wine Handpicked by IWSC
Six of the best Georgian wines
Handpicked by IWSC
London restaurateur Isa Bal’s top northern hemisphere wines
Will Loïc Pasquet of Liber Pater turn Georgia into a fine-wine frontier?
Get access to all our back issues via our free digital archive – and enjoy the best rate on a magazine subscription