Page 10 - Code de Vino, #13/19, a/w 2016
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8    Wine Club                                                                         Code de Vino #13               Code de Vino #13                                            Bidzina Ivanishvili: Living by Law of Grapevine  9
                                                           — I'd like to ask you a question that has just occurred to me.
                                                           I've interviewed many people from the world of wine: in France,
                                                           Australia, Italy, Argentina. Only when I come to Georgia, I get
                                                           the impression that wine culture is perceived in a similar way
                                                           everywhere, and the wines of the world are also more or less
                                                           similar, following a kind of a pattern, while in Georgia, the wine
                                                           is really special and surprisingly diverse. Would it be safe
                                                           to assume there is wine and there is Georgian wine?

                                                           — Here's the way I look at: there are people who drink wine and there
                                                           are Georgians who drink wine. Now, the attitude to wine... This is
                                                           where there is a clear difference: how Georgians treat wine and how
                                                           everyone else treats it around the world. Georgia is currently in the
                                                           process of restoring and developing our traditional technologies.
                                                           Only time will tell if it was for the better. But the fact that it is important
                                                           for our culture and identity couldn't be disputed.
                                                           It's a historically proven fact that wine itself was invented in our
                                                           country. We invented wine, but other countries have developed
                                                           this process further. We stayed where we were. As a person who
                                                           understands wine, you surely realize that there are subtleties in the
                                                           cultivation of Georgian wines, just as well as others. You can plant
                                                           the same Saperavi vine three hundred feet away from an existing
                                                           vineyard, and it will yield a completely different wine! So much        The traditional Georgian winemaking method involves not only aging wine in qvevris but
                                                           depends on the way the sun looks over the vines, the way the wind
        — Mr Ivanishvili, the wine history and wine culture of your   blows through the area, the soil quality. It all can and will change   also a number of old techniques, such as pressing the wine with bare feet in a special-
        country, something that cannot be measured in kilometers,   the flavor of your wine.                                       purpose device called a satsnakheli, a long container resembling a boat or a bathtub.
        but rather should be studied by the millimeter, lead to the
        realization that Georgia could well be the largest country   Accordingly, all wines are different, so I would refrain from claiming   Satsnakhelis are made of solid logs or limestone blocks. The squeezed juice then flows
        in the world, as a mere millimeter of Georgian space   that today's Georgian wine is special. Our history, though — yes,   into a qvevri through a specially designed opening in the satsnakheli.
        is rife with such power that Georgia could be compared   that's what is special! Our attitude to wine, to the way of drinking it —
        to a crystal.                                      yes, it is indeed special! The way Georgians view all things wine is
                                                           very interesting. And that's what I care about the most. Come to think
        — Yes, our country is a special place, and very dear to me.   of it: people once invented boats.
        To be a citizen of Georgia means to be immersed in a centuries-
        old wealth of history, a culture where wine is a consolidating factor.                                                Georgia is a small place where different religions are   By the way, a Georgian feast is nothing if not a contribution to self-
        Understanding and knowing Georgia is as easy as it is difficult.  — Boats?                                            represented, with as many as four denominations coexisting   understanding and self-identifying. Even the most frustrated man,
                                                                                                                              side by side. As early as in the 10th century, our king would   someone who can be called a loser, experiences true celebratory
                                                           — Yes, wooden boats! At all times and in all places, people would   often go to a mosque and pray. The concept of tolerance —   feelings when he gets to partake in a Georgian feast. He gets to feel
        — Alaverdi Monastery taught me a lesson in this regard.   make boats, hop inside, and sail somewhere. To reach other lands,   something that Europe and America have only just arrived   like a decent, worthy person. And the tamada, while preserving his
        Specifically, it taught me that guests are surely welcome,   or just to run some errands. Georgians also made such boats, called   at and begun teaching in schools — runs in our blood and   own dignity and abstaining from straightforward adulation, finds just
        but rules still come first.                        satsnakheli in Georgian. Those are wooden troughs used to press    genes. The location of Georgia — between Asia and Europe —   the right words to uncover the wonderful qualities hidden inside this
                                                           grapes and squeeze the juice.                                      has played a role here, and one can come across an   man. He lifts the man's spirits and elevates him. For Georgians,
        — His Grace, Metropolitan David definitely knows how                                                                  extraordinary motley of cultures and religions in our country.   guests and feasts are everything, the only conceivable way of living!
        to uphold the law of space!                        And even though Georgia is a coastal country, Georgians would
                                                           never use them to leave! We used satsnakheli to make wine.         I honestly believe that the biggest invention of modern
                                                           Looks a lot like a boat, doesn't it? Naturally, it is but a legend,   civilization is the Georgian feast. The most perfect one, even!   — I hear feasts also used to be a place of marriage except
        — I personally think that both the strength and the future   but it accurately reflects our people's attitude to their homeland.  If we talk about the path of a man, not after his life or into the   if there was a church nearby.
        of Georgia lie in monastic wines and micro wineries.                                                                  eternity, a thing which everybody treats differently, but in a more
                                                                                                                              materialistic sense, as something we are all born into and walk   — Correct! It's all connected, all parts of one culture. I'd like to tell
        — But of course! Those are our traditional wines, the flavor   — So a boat is a vessel for traveling inside yourself for you?  on... Then the very idea of perfection, of what people live for,   you another story: in Georgian hospitals, five years ago they started
        and power of our land. The very fact that you advertise                                                               all this is brought about in a Georgian feast with a skilled   performing successful coronary bypass surgeries. 15–20 years ago
        Georgian wines — for that, Georgia is grateful to you!  — Yes. Georgians never went anywhere. They preferred to stay and   tamada, with wonderful singing. And it is crucial that not two   I helped to send many fellow Georgians to Austria and Germany for
                                                           wait for guests to come. They pressed wine and waited for guests.   or three people gather but fifteen or twenty, and that they sing   such procedures. Then I asked Austrians to come to Georgia. In the
                                                           By the way, there's something I am also exemplary of: Georgians take   Georgian polyphonic folk songs.                village where I was born, I set up a very good hospital. There was
        — Actually, I myself owe it to Georgia for giving me   living away from their homeland very hard. I myself tried living in the                                           a need to tune up sophisticated equipment and adjust everything,
        the opportunity to touch upon the deepest-rooted values   US and in Russia, even stayed in France for six years.                                                         so I invited four Austrian doctors to help us out for two weeks.
        of Georgian culture and its people, the place where                                                                   — So you're trying to say this is a kind of law that forms
        the smallest winery and a huge company like Badagoni,   I know many Georgian expats who miss their country dearly.    the Georgian space?                                When at my house, they all would tell me as one how they'd operated
        are similar in the way they work, their naturalness and   I personally dreamt about Georgia all the time. My land kept calling me                                        on people and how after the fifth Georgian they'd worked on they
        honesty. Georgia is a space of flavor, and there is nothing   back. I never took root anywhere else. And there are a lot of migrants   — Exactly. A feast creates a special atmosphere. Dancing!   would expect only one question. Once the anesthesia wore off, all
        more important than flavor where the inner nature of man   out there, feeling the same way. Their biggest desire is to find a way   And talking! A good tamada must be able to speak   the patients wanted to know the same thing. They wouldn't ask if they
        is concerned.                                      to support themselves and their family back in Georgia and return!  in captivating verse. I believe that the tamada as a concept   would live, or how many years or how they would live. All they wanted
                                                                                                                              is a celebration of a human being itself. The very essence   to know was when they could start drinking wine. The first question
        — Every citizen should take care of the Georgian space as well.   I can expand on the attitude of Georgians towards wine forever.   of humans and the essence of life. The biggest festivities   was identical for everyone. That is not to say Georgians should be
        That alone makes them a special person, and we aren't talking   The very Georgian character was formed under the influence of wine,   can be seen at your regular Georgian feast. I tried to keep my   called drunkards. A lot of jokes exist about peoples who tend to drink
        about any special kind of deference. A special attitude to wine   thanks to the attitude to this drink. Wine unites us. It brings together   description of a Georgian feast short and simple. but it's really   a lot. But you'd be hard-pressed to find any stories about Georgians
        also plays a part. I mean, every Georgian has an attitude   the feasting table. Georgian feast is a very interesting phenomenon.   the embodiment of perfection, the very essence of life for   that would make you feel that they are heavy drinkers! In the bad
        to wine. In fact, Georgia is akin to classical dramaturgy.  Georgian feast is the utmost manifestation of acceptance.   my compatriot.                                   sense of the word, that is.
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