Saturday, September 6, 2008

Support Georgia......Drink Their Wine and Brandy!

Support Georgia......Drink Their Wine and Brandy!

It's the least that we can do (since we don't seem to have the ability to kick the Russian's out of their country).  And since the French we're one of the countries that veto'd allowing them into NATO (and that veto provided the Russians with the view that they could then act with impunity towards Georgia), switch from French to Georgian Brandy this coming holiday season......if you can find any Georgian wine or brandy.  And of course, it would only be appropriate to propose a toast Vlad Putin's just rewards....... with some Georgian Brandy!

Sweet Georgia Gold: A Brandy With Geopolitical Benefits

September 6, 2008; Wall Street Journal

Long before Russian tanks clattered and clanked their way into Georgia, the government of Vladimir Putin had already begun its war against the small, former Soviet republic. Among the opening salvos was an assault on Georgia's economy, an attack that took the form of a boycott of the country's wines and spirits, begun in 2006.
"Russia was the biggest market for every exported Georgian product, so the embargo had really hurt the economy," says Ekaterine Megutnishvili, a manager at Telavi Wine Cellar, one of Georgia's largest wine exporters. But not one to whine, Mrs. Megutnishvili notes in her email that Russia's wine blockade has merely "made Georgian companies turn their minds to target European and American markets, and now we really have good results on our hands."
[Georgia Brandy]
Dylan Cross for The Wall Street Journal
No doubt, Georgian brandy does make for a good "gift bottle" -- at least the one I was able to find. After no little searching, I was able to track down a bottle of a Georgian brandy called Vartsikhe. It came in a funky flask of raw brown earthenware decorated with little rust and white glaze triangles in patterns that remind one that Eurasia is just as close to Asia as it is to Europe.
The brandies of the Caucasus region -- Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan -- are known for their distinctive fruitcake sweetness. When the whisky writer Michael Jackson wanted to describe a single-malt Scotch as tasting of dried fruits and raisins, he would say it was redolent of Georgian brandy. 
.....Georgian brandy was the closest in style to cognac, with the medium body and elegant balance of a French VSOP.
It's worth noting that Georgia's vintners also make a distinctive alternative to vodka, an indigenous grappa called chacha. Like the Italian eau-de-vie, chacha is distilled from wine and the leftovers of winemaking -- grape skins, seeds, and even a stem or two. I was able to find a chacha made by the Telavi Wine Cellar, a spirit that was aged just enough to give it a honey-tinged color and with a nice balance between the fire essential to any good grappa and the mellow sweetness of the original grapes.
Georgian brandy and chacha are delights, even without the geopolitical benefits of buying them. But there's no denying that added bonus. Richard Holbrooke writes that "so far, Moscow has failed in its real goal -- getting rid of Mikheil Saakashvili, Georgia's pro-democracy, pro-American president." A former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Mr. Holbrooke has been a vigorous advocate for bolstering Georgia with aid to keep the country, and its government, from collapsing of economic asphyxiation. "If Mikheil Saakashvili survives," Mr. Holbrooke writes, "Vladimir Putin loses." Now that's something worth toasting -- where's that claret glass?  MORE....


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