This is “Le Mirazur” – a 3-star Michelin restaurant on the idyllic Cote d’Azur, with a picturesque view of the French Riviera, renowned chefs, and exceptional service. This year, Le Mirazur received the title of THE BEST OF THE BEST on the list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Le Mirazur’s exquisite menu is created by its founder Mauro Colagreco. This Chef of Argentinian descent receives guests from all over the world at the French Riviera. Inspired by the sea, the mountains, and the fruit and vegetables grown in his gardens, Mauro invents colorful, pictorial dishes that play with textures and bold contrasts.
Mauro came to France at the age of 20. After working with some of the best chefs in the industry, Mauro settled in Menton, a small town near the Italian border, where he opened Le Mirazur (mirazur.fr) in 2006. The success story of Georgian wine begins right here, in Mirazur, linking Ilia Kakhoidze and his shop Le Pont Caucasien in Cannes (lepontcaucasien.com), Mauro Colagreco and Magali Picherie together.
Magali is Le Mirazur’s Chef Sommelier. She first joined the restaurant’s team in 2013, but deciding to take some time off to travel, she rejoined it again in 2021. She found it was still true to its philosophy, with irreplaceable Mauro – a man who is deeply in love with his work. Magali tells us that the garden where the restaurant grows its produce holds a special place in Mauro’s heart, as the philosophy of enriching people’s lives with fresh and natural produce. This philosophy was translated into the restaurant’s four unique menus inspired by the timing of the Biodynamic Calendar. “Today the Mirazur is dependent on every single day of this calendar”, says Magali.
Georgian wine at Le Mirazur
Le Mirazur restaurant carries a selection of 8 Georgian wines from “Solomnishvili Winery”, “Nareklishvili Winery”, “Shalauri Wine Cellar”, “Orgo”, “Vinveria”, “Anemo” and “Tsinandali Estate” that were selected by Magali Picherie and Mauro Colagreco.
Magali Picherie: “For me, Georgian wines are where the ancient history of winemaking and century-old traditions begin. They mean beauty and authenticity. I love them! I’m trying to know more and more about these wines, but I need more time and experience to understand them! Because they’re complex, intense, different, and mysterious sometimes.
It is unbelievable, but most of our restaurant’s visitors don’t know that Georgia is the homeland of wine with grand winemaking traditions (mostly our French, English and Belgian guests are familiar with Georgian wine). So, at Le Mirazur we are taking our first steps in raising awareness about Georgian wines. We introduce our guests to them and offer them to discover this new, but ultimately ancient wine country.
Amber wine is still referred to as Orange wine, but I don’t like to use this term. Ilia has taught me that I prefer to use “amber wine”, as it sounds more smooth, nobler and reflects all the history and beauty of these wines!
Le Pont Caucasien
Ilia has not only taught and introduced Magali to these wines but many other sommeliers in the region. Before becoming the only Georgian Member of Honor of Monaco Sommelier Association, he was a member of the Sommelier Association of Nice. He first brought Georgian wine to France in 2013 (he even remembers the exact date, which was the 4th of April), and in November of 2020, he opened a Georgian wine shop in Cannes – Le Pont Caucasien (lepontcaucasien.com) that already carries selected wines from 28 Georgian wine companies and wineries. He is actively involved in promoting Georgian wine, so it establishes its place along with the wines of the world. Ilia frequently holds tastings that members of Monaco Sommelier Association and Sommelier Association of Nice attend to try new wines. His wife, Mariana, is alongside him on this journey. They are raising 4 children together. As Ilia says, if it wasn’t for his wife’s support, Le Pont Caucasien would not be as successful as it is today.
There are many fine wines in France and standing alongside them takes a lot of hard work. Ilia regularly attends exhibitions and is in constant communication with leading hotels and restaurants. The scope of his activities is not only limited to France, Monaco, and Belgium. Le Pont Caucasien has recently sent Georgian wine to Singapore as well.
Le Pont Caucasien is the contractor of the National Wine Agency. Ilia says that the Agency’s support enables him to present Georgian wine in the right place, at the right time, and make it accessible to the consumer. The Agency also conducts various campaigns – events, exhibitions, promotional videos – in different countries. “All of this led to Magali sending me an email one day. She wanted to try Georgian wine. That’s how Georgian wines ended up in Le Mirazur. It is an achievement that high-class restaurants, such as Le Mirazur offer Georgian wines. Their price here ranged from 60 to 120 EUR.
Incidentally, Le Mirazur also owns two Georgian qvevri. They were gifts from Ilia, given to the restaurant and Mauro Colagreco. Mauro already plans to age vinegar in his qvevri. “In France, vinegar is just as important as wine. The variety of grape, the process of making, its aging – all of these is given a lot of attention. We discussed Mauro’s idea and he might need a bigger qvevri. I will bring him one”, says Ilia.
Le Mirazur menu and Georgian wine
Magali Picherie: I like to pair European-style Georgian wine with starters like lobster with turnip, or gamberoni from San Remo, or French caviar and escarole salad. As for qvevri wines, I like to pair them with a nice artichoke tart, with Comté cheese and truffle. They also pair well with veal that we prepare with macha sauce and prunes, and with calamari, Bagna Cauda sauce, and sweet potato.
We always present Georgian wines by introducing their history. It’s very important for me to explain first where they come from and how they were made. Georgia and its wines deserve to be known. Do you know what is the most interesting part of the process? When one table tries a glass of Georgian amber wine, other tables become curious. They want to know what I just served!”.
Other important development: you can try Georgian wines in the new, ultra-modern hotel on the French Riviera – Maybourne Riviera. And it is, of course, thanks to Ilia Kakhoidze, Mauro Colagreco and Magali Picherie. The hotel houses two restaurants: Ceto, on the last floor of the hotel, and The Riviera Restaurant (on the ground floor), led by Mauro.
The striking modernist architecture of The Maybourne Riviera emerges from the rocky peninsula of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin as if forging its way into the glistening Mediterranean Sea. Dramatic views of the coastline take in Italy to the east, Monte Carlo to the west, all bathed in brilliant light. The hotel is part of Maybourne Hotel Group, which unites London’s famous Claridge’s, The Connaught, and The Berkeley. The unique menu of Mediterranean-inspired dishes now holds Georgian wines, which were selected after degustation with Ilia. They are Kakhuri Mtsvivani from “Nareklishvili Winery”, Cuvee from “Orgo” and 1984 from “Solomnishvili Winery”
Ilia also tells us that he plans to introduce Georgian wine to four restaurants in Lyon. Besides being the 3rd largest city in France, Lyon is also considered the culinary capital of the country. Paul Bocuse Institute is situated here, and the famous “Bocus d’Or” competition also takes place here, which distinguishes the city even further.
“There are four restaurants named after Paul Bocuse in different districts of the city. I had a very interesting meeting with a Chef Sommelier of one of them – namely —– at the beginning of November. Their menu is mainly focused on seafood. We tasted white and amber Georgian wines. For now, the sommelier selected three European-style Georgian wines for his restaurants, all of them amber. We are now waiting for the final results. I’m eager to see Georgian wines in this restaurant, “ – says Ilia.
Ilia also visited Nice in November. He was invited to the best chef award ceremony (Salon “The Epicurian”, hotel NEGRESCO), held at Le Negresco (one of the most prominent hotels in France). The event attended by wine professionals, head sommeliers, and chefs, also saw the professional tasting of Georgian wines. “I was offered to choose one Georgian amber wine, which the winning chef would offer to the guests together with an oyster dish. Khikhvi (qvevri) from “Nareklishvili Winery” received very positive acclaim.”
But this is not all: Khikhvi from “Nareklishvili Winery”, Rkatsiteli from “Orgo” and Kisi from “Vinotera” were also presented to Le Negresco. They will choose one of them, and Georgian wine will appear at the legendary Le Negresco.
And last, but not least – Monaco: This is the annual gala of “Monaco Sommelier Association”, traditionally attended by Prince Albert II of Monaco. Ilia is the only Georgian member of honor of the association. These are Georgian wines and a copy of Homeland of Wine magazine, presented to Prince Albert II of Monaco and the members.