Ojaleshi 2015, Monastic Red Wine
Wine estate: the Chkondidi eparchy
Region: the Salkhino vineyeards, Martvili Municipality, Georgia
Grape variety: Ojaleshi
Alcohol content: 12%
Its beautiful crimson color and hardly noticeable rim of sunlight at the top lights Ojaleshi up inside the glass. It features the velvety, tannic and notes of pomegranate that love to make an appearance in many Georgian wines, despite the grape, region or winemaker. Apparently, this is the way the Georgian land manifests its power in the wine—through pomegranate, the local symbol of fertility.
Ojaleshi is the most beloved grape at Samegrelo. In Mingrelian, «ja» means «tree», and for Ojaleshi the trees are like friends and pillars that support its vines, helping them stretch out towards the sun. Each village has its own secrets on how to make Ojaleshi wine. And the Chkondidi Monastery is no exception: one of them is patience, waiting for the moment when Ojaleshi is ready to transform into a vivid, powerful elixir, which as a rule happens after the second wave of frosts; another secret is the sense of wine—the wine here isn’t just made, it’s created. The makers interact with it, listen in and understand it.
In the wine cellar there are giant satskhaneli made from the wild hazelnut growing in Racha. They are used to press grapes; from here the paste goes to qvevri for the transformation process.
Monk Ilya is a winemaker and owner of the wine cellar. He reveals the secret of his art ever so slightly, giving us the opportunity to experience the wine on our own terms. What a wonderful pleasure it is to drink wine from a chalice filled and offered to you by monk Ilya, the servant of this enchanting elixir!