This year Rootstock Sydney, is hosting six Georgian wine makers at the festival. On the second night, they’re throwing a Georgian feast in honour of the country and its wine traditions.
Why Georgia? Why not Italy, France or even Austria? “Georgia is important to natural wine because it's where, probably, grapes were generated,” says Giorgio De Maria, a natural wine expert and one of the Rootstock Sydney organisers. One of the philosophies of the natural wine movement is that the flavour of wine is best when unperturbed by chemical additives or excessive technological intervention. What better way to achieve that than looking into wine’s origin. “[Georgia] is the most ancient wine making area we know. We're going back 6,000 years. There's no other area in the world with that kind of history in wine making,” says De Maria.
It’s believed that winemaking actually started in Georgia around 8,000 years ago. A lot of the techniques used then are still employed now, which is what De Maria is interested in. The six winemakers coming to Sydney are dedicated not only to Georgian wines but the traditional methods of producing them. “They use vessels made of clay called a qvevri. Most people use oak barrels or other wooden barrels,” De Maria says. The wines themselves are radically, and fascinatingly, different from the mainstream. “There's a lot of native varieties of grapes that belong only to that area,” says De Maria.
Each of the winemakers will be showcasing a few Georgian native varieties at the festival. They’ll also be served next to chef Renee Trudeau’s (ex-Clever Polly) Georgian feast. “We're doing a big buffet with all the stuff on the table,” says De Maria. The idea is to mimic a typical Georgian meal, where no dish is eaten alone but as a banquet between friends or family and always with wine. “Making and consuming wine is an essential part of Georgian culture. For every meal you have a wine on the table,” says De Maria.
There’ll be pies stuffed with aged sheep’s cheese; pork skewers grilled over old vine cuttings and served with adjika (a harissa-like chilli paste); Georgian-style slow cooked lamb; and roast potatoes with fermented green plum sauce. “It will be extremely traditional. We’re not trying to twist it. If you go to Georgian now you will find this food,” says De Maria. “There may even be some singing and music. The [Georgian] producers like to sing. We just need to get them in the mood.”
Rootstock Sydney will run from Saturday November 26 until Sunday November 27 at Carriageworks in Eveleigh. Tickets are on sale now through Rootstock's website.
The Georgian feast will be an unticketed event.
Broadsheet is the proud media partner of Rootstock Sydney.