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Simon Zaoty
Terry Sullivan

Simon ZoatySummary: A visit to Gurjaani in Kakheti provides a family supra experience. Learn about a supra from Simon Zaoty who entertains you while you eat traditional Kakhetian dishes.

As our van pulled up to the address of Simon Zaoty, Simon met us at our vehicle dressed in traditional Georgian clothing. He warmly greeted us and quickly made us feel at home. As we walked to his distillery, the site of the supra, Simon pointed out his table grapes and wine grapes. He paused for a moment to greet his 80-year old mother who was working in the vegetable garden.

Our first stop was at a buried qvevri that Simon opened and collected some of the Rkatsiteli. The qvevri wine was a dark gold to amber color. The aroma was floral and offered yellow stone fruits. The taste too was floral with hints of nectarines and apricots. The finish was crisp. Near the qvevri, Simon’s daughter was grilling pork. Vine cuttings are dried and used to flavor the meats that are barbecued. The barbecued pork is called suki in this Kakhetian area.

We proceeded into the distillery that was a long room. On one side of the room was a long table used for supras. Just beyond the table, a crackling fire was producing gentle heat. At the other end of the room there was a still used to make Chacha. This was one of the larger stills that we have seen at family homes while in Georgia. We spent some time talking about Chacha. Simon poured a shot, walked over to the fire and threw the Chacha onto the fire. The flames grew and roared for a moment. An immediate thought was, are we going to drink that? We then tasted the Chacha that spent a few months in oak prior to bottling. The Chacha was a dark yellow color. Alcohol and nectarines were apparent on the aroma and taste. There was some alcohol burn followed by a long aftertaste of yellow stone fruits.

Simon Zoaty     Simon Zoaty

After drinking Chacha the way Georgians drink Chacha, we sat at the table. Simon spoke of the importance of their motto “Tradition, Bounty, Hospitality." He showed us several instruments his father hand-made. We learned of the importance of family as well as the food and fruits of the land and the Georgian concept of hospitality. Visitors are considered gifts from God.

Simon ZoatyWe then sampled Simon’s Saperavi that was a dark purple color with a red rim. The wine had black fruits on the aroma. The taste had plums and blackberries. The wine had kissing tannins, tannins so bold that they pucker your lips as though you are ready to give someone a kiss. The wine was a wonderful match for the suki. For the supra, Simon made a toast. After the toast his daughter joined him and the two sang songs. The songs were accompanied by a guitar or a panduri, a traditional Kakheti stringed instrument that Simon’s father made. It was special to hear father and daughter sing the Georgian songs. Even though we did not know the words, the music touched our hearts.

Supras take a long time. There is a toast, then singing or conversation, then eating. Then another toast and the series of events continues. Before a toast Simon, our tamada made sure our wine glasses were filled. For one toast, all the men stood on benches while the women remained seated. The men toasted the women. Supras are one of those cultural events that everyone needs to experience. Wine, food and friends creates a wonderful occurrence that touches the heart.

Article Written April 2014








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