Saturday, June 23, 2007

Rkatsiteli Grapes

Rkaksiteli (pronounced "rkah-tsee-tely"; Georgian რქაწითელი; literally "red stem") is a variety of grapes grown along the Black Sea coast of Georgia, used to make dry white table wines of the Kakhetian style. Rkatsiteli was very popular in the Soviet Union and remains popular in Russia. In spite of the Russian ban on Georgian wine, Rkaksiteli still makes its way to Russia, since it is now grown in other former-Soviet republics and in Eastern Europe. In addition, it is grown in small areas of Australia and the eastern United States. The leaves are round, with three or five lobes; the grapes themselves are golden in color and will develop brown spots on the sun side.

Rkaksiteli grapes are often blended with other grapes: with Khikhvi and Mtsvane to produce Rkatsiteli Khornabujuli wine; with Mtsvane to make the aged white wine Tibaani; with Chinuri and Chkhaveri for sparkling wine; with Saperavi and Cabernet Sauvignon for a semi-dry rose wine; or with Khikvi and Mtsvane for the fortified white port Kardenakhi. Rkatsiteli is one of the oldest varieties of grapes in the world; clay vessels have been found in Georgia with Rkatsiteli seeds dating from 3000 BC.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Colchis Gives Birth to a Nation

In ancient geography, Colchis or Kolchis (Georgian: კოლხეთი, Kolkheti; Greek: Κολχίς, Kolchís) was an ancient Georgian kingdom in the Caucasus, first settled by the Colchians in the Middle Bronze Age. Colchis was not simply in the geographic area of medieval and modern Georgia, but played an important role in the ethnic and cultural formation of the country, with the ancient kingdom laying important foundations for the medieval kingdom and the modern nation-state.

In Greek mythology the home of Aeëtes and Medea and the destination of the Argonauts, Colchis covered the present Georgian provinces of Mingrelia, Imereti, Guria, Ajaria, Svaneti, Racha, Abkhazia and the modern Turkey’s Rize, Trabzon and Artvin provinces.

The name "Colchis" first appears in Aeschylus and Pindar. The main cities were Dioscurias or Dioscuris (under the Romans called Sebastopolis, now Sukhumi) on the sea-board of the Euxine, Sarapana (now Shorapani), Phasis (now Poti), Pityus (now Pitsunda), Apsaros (now Gonio), Surium (now Surami), Archaeopolis (now Nokalakevi), Macheiresis, and Cyta or Cutatisium (now Kutaisi), the traditional birthplace of Medea.