Bringing ancient Georgia to Avondale in Paarl

Johnathan Grieve never does anything without given it considerable thought.  Some years back, Corne Marais (Avondale’s Winemaker) and he introduced some amphora to the cellar to allow the wines to ferment and age in them and now taken that one step further by having specific amphora made for Avondale in Georgia near Russia.  These Georgian vessels are called Qvevri - pronounced 'Kwevri' - and are hand made from clay and fired in massive cave-like kilns with a big fire in the front of the cave. There is considerable history around these qvevri - having been used in wine-making for 8000 years!  

What makes them special is that they are then dug into the ground - or, in Avondale's case, put 24 of them into the cellar and had 52 tons of soil put around them. This means that oxygen finds it really difficult to get through to the wine and keeps oxygenation to a minimum.
Receiving 24 of these qvevri in the middle of harvest is quite a challenge, but winemaker Corne Marais seems to have managed this quite well, coating each one in lime to stop the bacteria getting in and then positioning them in the cellar (with each being a different height) and then having to cover them all with soil - quite a job!

We then tasted through a number of the 2018 wines, some having fermented in their usual amphora, some in the qvevri, and some in barrel.  What a mind-blowing experience!  
I would love to taste them all in a year's time again.

The tasting was followed by one of the most delicious meals I have had for a very long time - prepared by new chef Dale Stevens. Each course was matched with top end Avondale wines - we were really treated to the best of the best. Their 2009 Navitas (which they had just launched - at 9 years) was served with the main course of blesbok - simply sublime.

As usual things are measured at Avondale, taken slowly and done with thought and deep consideration for the earth.  Such a pleasure to behold.