An organic wine producer by EU certification
Branded as Meysari (the name of the company’s main base location), Shirvan Wines is one of Azerbaijan’s newest winemakers and the country’s first to be considered an organic producer by EU certification.
Their first 40 hectares of vineyard were only planted in 2014, with the first harvest in 2017, so as yet, the 2018 bottling is all we have to go on. But signs are promising. Already the area under vine has grown to some 310 hectares, the brand new processing unit uses first top-quality French equipment made by Pera, and a museum, restaurant and guesthouse have been built to facilitate wine tours. For now, there are just three wine variants on offer made from a curious mélange of French grape varieties, but the range will expand and change once newly planted vineyards of Caucasian seedlings come to maturity.
Makhmari – Meysari’s premium dry red uses Carignan and Grenache grapes to produce a rather sophisticated blend with hints of green walnut and redcurrant foremost on the palate.
Sadaf – A dry white wine produced from a mixture of Marsanne, Roussanne, Clairette and Grenache Blanc grape varieties giving a certain sophistication with notes of pear and, to some noses, cedar or bay leaf.
Marjan – This dry red is an assemblage of Marselan, Grenache Noir, Cinsault, Carignan and Mourvèdre grape varieties. The result is an understandably complex creation nonetheless achieving an appealing balance with flavours of blackcurrant and blackberry to the fore.
Complete with a 200-seat restaurant, the attractive Meysari winery complex is beside the main road, a short drive west of Shamakhi, making it an easy stop if you’re heading from Baku towards Ismayilli, Gabala, Sheki or Agsu. Shamakhi itself is a historic city, originally based around two very prominent conical hills. Invaders and earthquakes have left little in the way of an old town but the city’s mosque was one of the first to be founded in the Caucasus’ and, in rebuilt form, is truly splendid. Across the valley, Yeddi Gumbaz is a fascinating little collection of old tomb towers from which you can look back towards the city. In the rolling hills to the south is the ramshackle village of Medrese, which shares its name with a classic Azerbaijani grape that’s widely grown in the surrounding area. Longer drives can take you to the magical series of tomb towers at Kalakhana (bumpy road) or north along a winding lane to the moorland heights of Pirgulu which, as one writer put it, feels like the sort of place that the Bronte Sisters would have taken a morning constitutional. It’s also home to Azerbaijan’s astronomical telescope complex and several rustic getaway resorts.