Wandering around the old Tbilisi streets the one can easily notice a large medieval building next to Sioni cathedral. Qarvasla an ancient bazar a caravansary was built in XVII century during the reign of King Rostom. More than a three centuries old Qarvasla holds a lot of interesting history and culture inside. Nowadays the aura of that time can still be felt in the walls of caravansary but with wine and delicious traditional snacks. Today, wine museum and wine bar restaurant Archive will remind you the 19th century Tbilisi with nostalgic and cozy, pleasant vibe. The Georgian chef Levan Kobiashvili researched the historical books and travelled around Georgian regions and villages to collect the old unique receipts about the traditional snacks and dishes to offer us the brilliant exquisite variations of his signature snacks (khemsi) and plates.
Collaboration of two professionals, chef Levan Kobiashvili and the best sommelier Jaba Dzimistarishvili offers the restaurant guests a unique opportunity – to taste hundreds of Georgian wines of different varieties with the appropriate Khemsi and to comprehend the subtle details in the taste of traditional Georgian wine as well as traditional Georgian snacks.
Georgian khemsi is made with organic ingredients which are harvested and grown in local farms around the country.
The wine bar and restaurant periodically offers both Georgian and foreign guests the opportunity to experience the Georgian tradition of Nadimi with various theatrical performances.
As Jaba Dzmistarishvili notes, the main focus in “Archive” is on Georgian wines. Their entire cellar consists of classic, as well as kvevri and planted wines of Georgian. Each wine carries the history of its own origin (province), and through the wine tour the visitors will discover not only Tbilisi but the entire Georgia. In addition, in the “Archive” you will come across with rare aged wines.
How many wines are presented in your cellar and how did you pick each of them?
We have 550 different varieties of grape wine and we are trying to increase that number. We want to use the existing assortment as much as possible and to offer our guests a wide range of choices. However, it is possible to find a new variety of wine made, but it might fail to meet the criteria. First of all, the wines are tasted, then they are ranked based on the tasting process and some are subsequently eliminated. Not all wines can reach our standards.
What criteria are you referring to?
Mainly, organoleptic characteristics.
As we know, wine in your restaurant is much cheaper than in other restaurants. In addition to the price, how do you differ from competitors?
Our concept does not just include a restaurant. There is a wine museum and a shop. Even in the restaurant itself, the prices of wine are quite low. In fact, our restaurant wine can be purchased at the retail prices. This is an unusual phenomenon for the Georgian market. In addition to the price, our restaurant has far bigger selection of wine and of course Levan Kobiashvili’s cuisine is what distinguishes us from competitors.
Besides wine tasting and purchasing, what else do you offer the customer to get to know the Georgian wine culture?
As I told you, we have a wine museum where the entire history and culture of wine is presented to the guests along with historical artifacts. In addition, we have tastings through which guests can taste wines from all over the world.
With you, the customer will taste the wine with the appropriate khemsi. What is the specificity of serving wine with khemsi?
In general, the cooperation of chef and sommelier means wines pared to the dishes. The wine should not spoil the dish and the dish should not overpower the wine. Matching is very important. Neither food or wine should be wasted. Levan and I are sitting and pairing different wines with different dishes. This is how the menu was created.
If you can explain, what kind of wine pairs with what kind of khemsi?
For example, Our Khemsi Boards include Nutty Pkhaleuli and Ghandzili. A slightly full-bodied, relatively high-acid, Western Churi wine goes very well with nutty dishes. We also have a board of Georgian Khamoni and Georgian ham, to which we can serve a full-bodied red wine. For any wine, we can select the appropriate menu that will fit it perfectly.
How do you rate working with Levan?
He gives me a lot freedom in the kitchen. I have the best MasterChef in Georgia and we can go a long way together. You cannot change the structure of the wine, it is bottled and formed, but we can change the specific ingredients in the course so it complements the wine as much as possible.
By Mariam Bokeria