The usage of Georgian Amphora (Qvevri) containers to store and ferment wines is a tradition in winemaking dating back to 6th century, B.C. Today this ancient technology is making a comeback among brewers and vintners throughout the world, mostly in Europe and the Middle East. Currently, there are only a handful of wineries in the United States utilizing this method. Purgatory Cellars is proud to be the first winery in Colorado to utilize this ancient method and introduce our Amphora-aged wines. Wines made in Amphorae show complexity and soft tannins on the pallet, and long maceration period (up to 9 months) on the skin causes darker color so they are called Orange Wines.
Wine made in Amphora is special from many perspectives.
1. Wine is made in clay pot (Amphora or Qvevry) not as usual in barrels or stainless steel tanks.
2. The clay pots are coming from Country of Georgia
3. Wine made by this wine making technique is really rear (in whole USA there are only couple wineries using Amphora or Qvevri) as it is hard to get Amphorae or Qvevri
4. Wine is natural, inside the Amphora wine is aged together with skin for at least 6 months (even up to 9 months). Amphora is for the wine like womb for a child and after 9 months the wine is born.
5. Wine made in Amphora is more intense in color (orange wine) with beautiful deep flavors on the nose and taste with soft and long finish
Let us introduce how Amphora or Qvevry is made:
This a story on the history for which the Georgians say that the beginnings of qvevry making is there, right there due to special clay which is used to make amphorae and in which they could prepare, store and exchange their wine with neighbors like Persians, Greek etc.
There are only few living qvevry traditional making masters who could make the qvevry of the high quality still in villages of Georgia. The requirement for a good qvevry is that even one’s grandfather used to make them as the making, drying and baking clay technology is extremely complex in order to create extraordinary qvevry from special clay that can only be found on two spots in Georgia. Raw clay is dug high in the mountains and it can be brought by very narrow horse carts where the clay is mixed with another ingredients and put in earth to mature. It is ground in a special mill that is also powered by horses and waits for qvevry production. The qvevry making procedure is long-lasting as the qvevry can “grow” maximally 10cm a day and it is naturally dried.
When that is done, the qvevry is cautiously put to a new spot to the so called driers, where it is dried and left quite long. That spot has to be on draft and not in the sun. The qvevry is then put to baking in the structure layered with adobe on three sides, covered with oak from the outside and secured with huge wooden beams that hold the structure compact in the high temperature. One side of that structure is than laid with bricks and only two openings stay for firing. Fire is kept non-stop for three days and nights until white smoke comes out of that oven, which is a sign that qvevry is ready. There are special holes for smoke. Before firing, the qvevry is greased with natural bees’ wax that is absorbed in the clay creating the glaze.