Qvevri, pronounced ‘kwe-vree’, are ancient clay vessels, dating back 8,000 years, from Georgia which is widely regarded as the home of modern viticulture. Avondale is the first South African winery to produce wines using this ancient qvevri method and both the red and white are delicious and excitingly different!
Qvevri differ from amphorae in that they are slightly more porous and, because they are buried in the earth, there is steadier micro-oxygenation allowing for subtle differences in the wines. Using vessels sourced from qvevri master Nodari Kapanadze, Avondale uses all the exciting elements of this traditional method including whole-bunch pressing, skin contact and lees ageing.
Such is the importance of qvevri winemaking that it has been protected by UNESCO and inscribed as an ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’.
The Avondale Qvevri Chenin Blanc 2018 is shy at first, opening up slowly to cool florals and some honey blossom, leading to a richer, fuller palate with excellent balance and a fresh centre. It’s certainly different in that the palate seems more defined with a slight grip to its long, lingering finish.
Aromatically, the Avondale Qvevri Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre 2018 is more akin to Beaujolais, while the palate immediately differentiates itself with a forward and lively tannin structure. The blend offers wild florals upfront, leading on to a palate full of verve and a fresh, dry and driven finish. These two are both smart, intriguing wines and well-worth seeking out.
Avondale, Qvevri Chenin Blanc 2018
The grapes were picked between 22° and 23°B. 40% of the grapes were whole bunch pressed, juice fermented and left to age on primary lees in qvevri. 30% were destemmend, naturally fermented and aged on skins for 3 months, pressed and went back into 1vevri to age on lees. Another 30% were whole bunch fermented and aged on stems and skins for 4 months, pressed and back into qvevri to age on lees. All 3 components where taken out of qvevri in Feb 2019 after approximately a year in qvevri, blended and bottled.
Pure clean fruit with unmistakable minerality and earthiness from the qvevri on the nose. This whole bunch approach introduces an elegant grape-driven tannin structure to the wine, supporting the attractive minerality and lively natural acidity. On the palate, expect a beguiling combination of stone fruits, pear, lime and spice. Skin ferment gives the full palate; and juice ferment gives overall fruitiness. This combined with the earthiness and minerality of the qvevri makes for a complete wine. – Avondale Winemaker
Avondale, Qvevri Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre 2018
The grapes were picked between 22° and 23° B and each variety was treated separately. The Grenache was destemmed into qvevri, with a daily punch down during fermentation. The wine was left on skins for 1 month, then pressed and went back in qvevri to age. The Syrah and Mourvèdre went whole bunch into qvevri with a daily punch down during fermentation. After 3 months on stems and skins the wine was pressed and went back in qvevri to age. All 3 components were taken out of qvevri in Feb 2019 after approximately a year, blended and bottled.
Abundance of succulent red fruit – raspberry, mulberry, strawberry with violets and spice as result from the whole-bunch. Unmistakable minerality and earthiness from the qvevri on the nose are very inviting. This carries through on the palate with a bright natural acidity which gives a wonderful freshness and drinkability to the wine. The wine has a great balance between the fine tannins of the whole bunch/bright natural acidity/abundance of fruit/earthiness that keeps you intrigued and wanting more. – Avondale Winemaker