Sarah Abbott MW

I’m the founder and director of Swirl, a wine education and corporate events company that celebrates the things that make life sweet, namely wine and food. Seeing a roomful of people at one of our events having the most fantastic time gives me huge satisfaction. Empowering people to explore and understand wine and their own preferences, while championing characterful and delicious wines, makes me really happy, too.

I also work with wine producers, generic bodies and importers on branding and strategic communications. We tease out the stories in every bottle to connect with consumers and differentiate what’s unique. From mid 2014 I’ll be working with the National Wine Agency of Georgia to promote their wonderful wines in the UK.

Sarah lead the Wines of Georgia Grand Tasting together with Irakli Cholobargia, National Wine Agency, Georgia

Georgia has one of the oldest, continuous, unbroken traditions of wine making in the world, stretching back for 8,000 years. Georgian vine growing and wine production are mentioned in the works of Homer and Apollonius of Rhodes. Many archaeological finds suggest that Georgia is a birthplace of wine.

Wine is certainly an integral part of a rich, evocative culture, which values connection, expression and passion. Wine consumption in Georgia is intertwined with traditions of feasting, poetry and song.

Over 500 indigenous grape varieties are still cultivated here, many of them rescued, preserved and now propagated by a new national viticultural research station at xxxxx. White wines predominate, and range from the zesty and aromatic such Mtsvane, to the firm, stony Rkatsiteli. Reds are in the minority, but increasingly in the news. One of the most striking, and exciting, is Saperavi, described by Andrew Jefford as “a grape variety of astonishing potential”.

There is a third way, in Georgia. Neither red, nor white, nor rosé, so called ‘Orange Wines’ are derived from white grapes fermented on their skins to give darker, tannic whites. The traditional clay amphora used for these wines - Qvevri – are employed by both technologically-minded oenologists, and ‘natural’ wine makers, who eschew conventional preservatives and additions.

The challenge, and delight, for Georgia is to celebrate its unique heritage and diversity, while reaching out to contemporary wine consumers and winning the confidence of both mainstream and specialist wine importers. Georgia’s wines are not a museum piece, but they have a unique opportunity to retain a link with our deepest wine-loving past.

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