Citizendium - a community developing a quality comprehensive compendium of knowledge, online and free. Click here to join and contribute—free
CZ thanks our previous donors. Donate here. Treasurer's Financial Report -- Thanks to our content contributors. --

Georgian wine

From Citizendium, the Citizens' Compendium

Jump to: navigation, search
This article is basically copied from an external source and has not been approved.
Main Article
Talk
Related Articles  [?]
Bibliography  [?]
External Links  [?]
Citable Version  [?]
 
This editable Main Article is under development and not meant to be cited; by editing it you can help to improve it towards a future approved, citable version. These unapproved articles are subject to a disclaimer.
Georgian wine

Contents

Georgia is one of the oldest wine-producing regions of Europe. Grapevine has been cultivated in the fertile valleys of the South Caucasus for at least 7,000 years and because of that the traditions of its viticulture are entwined with the country's national identity. Georgia is believed by many to be the source of the world's first cultivated grapevines, and many also believe that the word wine is of Georgian origin.

Among the best-known regions of Georgia where wine is produced are Kakheti (further divided onto micro-regions of Telavi and Kvareli), Kartli, Imereti, Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti, and Abkhazia.

History

It has been documented that the roots of its viticulture are between 7000 and 5000 BC, when peoples of South Caucasus discovered that wild grape juice turned into wine when it was left buried through the winter in a shallow pit. This knowledge was nourished by experience, and from 4000 BC Georgians were cultivating grapes and burying clay vessels, kvevri, in which to store their wine ready for serving at perfect ground temperature. When filled with the fermented juice of the harvest, the kvevris are topped with a wooden lid and then covered and sealed with earth. Some may remain entombed for up to 50 years.

This love affair with the grape was given further encouragement by the arrival of Saint Nino in the 4th century. Fleeing Roman persecution in Cappadocia, in what is now central Turkey, and bearing a cross made from vine wood and bound with her own hair. Saint Nino was swept up in the warm embrace of the Georgians, who became early converts to Christianity. Thus the cross and the vine became inextricably linked in the Georgian psyche, and the advent of the new faith served to sanction these ancient vinous practices. For centuries, Georgians drank, and in some areas still drink, their delicious wine from horns and skins specially treated for this purpose. These drinking implements came from their herd animals, as no part of the valued and respected beasts went to waste. The horns were cleaned, boiled and polished, creating a unique, durable and quite stylish drinking vessel. These horns were prized by the merchants and warriors that travelled the fertile valleys of the Caucasus. Today they are still a prized symbol of the historic eras.

Wine vessels of every shape, size and design account for the bulk of earthenware artifacts unearthed by Georgian archaeologists. The Georgian craft of pottery is millennia old. Ancient artifacts attest to the high skill of Georgian craftsmen in whose hands water, clay and fire turned into an object of an exceptional beauty much admired by people. The most impressive of all archaeological finds are kvevri, giant clay vessels in which wine was fermented and stored up. The old ones used to dig them into soil, just as we are doing now. Georgian museums have on display numerous clay vessels of all designations. Some were used to ferment grape juice and to store up wine, such as kvevri, chapi and satskhao, and others were used for drinking, such as khelada, doki, sura, chinchila, deda-khelada, dzhami and marani. For ages, artisans polished their skills to improve these vessels. The secrets of trade passed on from fathers to sons. Modern potters carefully study the ancient craft and decorative patterns and create their own pottery making extensive use of ancient national traditions and using the latest scientific and technological achievements to enrich ancient traditions.

Many of the unearthed silver, gold and bronze artifacts of the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC bear chased imprints of the vine, grape clusters and leaves. On the basis of this evidence it is safe to say that viticulture has a long record in Georgian history. The State Museum of Georgia has on display a cup of high-carat gold set with gems, an ornamented silver pitcher and some other artifacts dated the 2nd millennium BC The museum of history has a cameo depicting Bacchus. Numerous sarcophagi with wine pitchers and ornamented wine cups, found in ancient toms, are a proof that wine was nothing unusual for Georgians at all times.

Viticulture in Georgia today

Georgia ranks 4th in grape production in the former Soviet Union behind Russia, Ukraine, and Moldova, though Georgian wines have always been the most highly prized. Recently Georgian wines have begun to be widely imitated and counterfeited. Reportedly, as much as 90% of Georgian wines sold in Russia now are bogus. There is virtually no protection of Georgian wine names. Moscow markets have Georgian wines with names like Kindzmarauli produced in cities throughout Russia. In the EU, the USA and Canada, one may be assured that the Georgian wines being sold are indeed from the Republic of Georgia and have been certified as being the genuine & authentic product.

Growing conditions

When it comes to wine-making, Georgia is blessed. Extremes of weather are unusual: summers tend to be short-sleeve sunny, and winters mild and frost-free. Natural springs abound, and the Caucasian Mountain streams drain mineral-rich water into the valleys. Georgia's moderate climate and moist air, influenced by the Black Sea, provide the best conditions for vine cultivating.

Grape varieties in Georgia

Traditional Georgian grape varieties are little known in the West. Now that the wines of Eastern and Central Europe are coming to international awareness, grapes from this region are becoming better known. Although there are nearly 500 to choose from, only 38 varieties are officially grown for commercial viticulture in Georgia:

  • Rkatsiteli (white) is a variety that is so widely grown in Eastern and Central Europe that it ranks third in the world in hectares grown. It is the most important grape variety used to make Georgian white wines. It is high in acidity and is capable of producing wines with fine character.
  • Saperavi (red) produces substantial deep red wines that are suitable for extended aging, perhaps up to fifty years. Saperavi has the potential to produce high alcohol levels and is used extensively for blending with other lesser varieties. It is the most important grape variety used to make Georgian red wines.
  • Mtsvani (or Mtsvane) (white) is also important in Georgian wines, and is often blended with Rkatsiteli to which it adds a fruity, aromatic balance. In the Georgian language Mtsvane means green.
  • Alexandreuli (red)
  • Tsolikauri (white)
  • Tetra (white)
  • Alexandria
  • Mujuretuli (red)
  • Ojaleshi (red) is cultivated on the mountain slopes overhanging the banks of the Tskhenis-Tskali river, particularly in the Orbeli village and Samegrelo district (Western Georgia).
  • Usakhelauri (red) is cultivated mostly in the Zubi-Okureshi district in Western Georgia.
  • Izabela (red)
  • Tavkveri (red)
  • Asuretuli (red)
  • Cabernet (red)
  • Aladasturi (red)
  • Tsitska (white)
  • Khikhvi (white) is grown in Kardanakhi.
  • Dzvelshava
  • Krakhuna

Georgian wine varieties

Traditionally, Georgian wines carry the name of the source region, district, or village, much like French regional wines such as Bordeaux or Burgundy. As with these French wines, Georgian wines are usually a blend of two or more grapes. Georgian wines are classified as sweet, semi-sweet, semi-dry, dry, fortified and sparkling. The semi-sweet varieties are the most popular.

White

    • Pirosmani is a semi-sweet white wine made from a 40% Tsolikauri, 60% Tsitska blend. It has won 3 gold medals and one silver medal at international competitions.
    • Tsinandali is a blend of Rkatsiteli and Mtsvane grapes from the micro regions of Telavi and Kvareli in the Kakheti region.
    • Tvishi is a natural semi-sweet white wine made from Tsolikauri in the Lechkhumi region. It has won one gold medal, two silver medals and one bronze medal in international competitions.
    • Mtsvani is a dry white wine made from Mtsvani.
    • Alaznis Veli is white semi-sweet wine made from the Rkatsiteii, Tetra, Tsolikauri and other industrial grape varieties cultivated in Western and Eastern Georgia. The wine of straw color has a characteristic aroma, a fine, fresh and a harmonious taste. It contains 9-11 % alcohol and has 6-7% titrated acidity.
    • Anakopia is a white semi-dry table wine made from the Tsolikauri grape variety grown in the Sukhumi and Gudauta districts in Abkhazia. The color range is from light to dark-straw. It has a specific aroma and a subtle fresh taste. The alcohol content in the ready wine is 9-11%, sugar content 1-2 g/100 ml, titrated acidity 5-8 g/l. The wine has been produced since 1978.
    • Tbilisuri is pink semi-dry wine produced since 1984. It is made from the Saperavi, Cabernet and Rkatsiteli grape varieties grown in East Georgia. The wine has a rich fruity taste. The alcohol content is 9-11.5%, sugar content 1-2%, titrated acidity 5-7 g/l.
    • Khikkhvi is a vintage white dessert wine made from the Khikhvi grape variety grown in Kardanakhi. It has pleasant amber color, a characteristic aroma and a delicate taste. Its strength is 15 vol.%, sugar content 18-20%, titrated acidity 4-8 g/1. The wine has been produced since 1924. At international competitions it received 4 gold medals.
    • Saamo is a vintage dessert white sweet wine is made from the Rkatsiteli grape variety cultivated in the Kardanakhi vineyards of the Gurjaani district in Kakheti. It takes the wine three years to mature. The golden-color wine has an original fine bouquet, a pleasant taste with a harmonious honey fragrance. When ready for use, the wine contains 17% alcohol, 13% sugar and has 4-6 g/1 titrated acidity. It has been manufactured since 1980. At international exhibitions Saamo was awarded 4 gold and 1 silver medal.
    • Gelati is a white dry ordinary wine made of the Tsolikauri, Tsitska and Krakhuna grape varieties cultivated in Western Georgia. The wine of straw color has a characteristic savor with a fruity flavor and fresh harmonious taste. Its strength is 10.0-12.5 vol.% and titrated acidity 5-8%.
    • Kakheti is a white table wine made of the Rkatsiteli and Mtsvane grape varieties cultivated in Kakheti. The amber-color wine has a fruity aroma with a vanillic flavor. It is characterized by an energetic, velvety and harmonious taste. Its strength is 10.5-13.0 vol.% and titrated acidity 4-6%. At international wine competitions the Kakheti wine was awarded one silver and one bronze medal. It has been produced since 1948.
    • Bodbe is made from the Rkatsiteli grape variety in the village of Bodbe in the Magaro microdistrict, one of the most beautiful places of Kakheti. The wine has a light-straw color, a fine aroma of wild flowers and a pleasing tender taste which give the wine piquancy highly estimated by connoisseurs. The ready wine contains 10.5-11.5% alcohol and has 5-7% titrated acidity.
    • Dimi is an Imeretian-type white ordinary wine. It is made from the Tsolikauri and Krakhuna grape varieties grown on small areas in Imereti (Western Georgia) by the old local technique consisting in fermenting the grapes pulp to which some quantity of grapes husks is added. The dark-straw color has a pleasant specific bouquet with a fruity flavor, a fresh harmonious taste and savory astringency. Its strength is 10.5-13.0 vol.% and titrated acidity 6.5-8.0%. The wine has been produced since 1977.
    • Gareji is a white dry ordinary wine made of the Rkatsiteli and Mtsvane grape varieties cultivated in Kakheti. The wine has a color ranging from pale-straw to amber, a pleasing bouquet and a full harmonious taste. Its strength is 10.0-12.5 vol. % and titrated acidity 4-7%.
    • Ereti is a white dry ordinary wine made from the Rkatsiteli and Mtsvane grape varieties. It has a straw color, a fine fruity bouquet and a full fresh and harmonious taste. Its strength is 10.0-12.5 vol.% and titrated acidity 5-8%.
    • Shuamta is a dry wine produced since 1984. It is made from the Rkatsiteli and Mtsvane grape varieties according to the Kakhetian recipe. The wine is of amber or dark-amber color and has a moderately astringent harmonious taste with a fruity aroma. The alcohol content is 10-12%, titrated acidity 4-6 g/l, extractibility over 25 g/l.
    • Alzani (white) is a mid-straw colored semi-sweet wine made from 100% Rkatsiteli. The name comes from one of the major river systems of Georgia that borders Georgia with Azerbaijan. The climate is slightly warmer than the rest of the Georgian Wine growing regions and gives rise to much sweeter grapes than those found elsewhere. It has won one silver and one gold metal in international competitions.

Red

    • Akhasheni is a naturally semi-sweet red wine made from the Saperavi grape variety grown in the Akhasheni vineyards of the Gurdzhaani district in Kakheti. The wine of dark-pomegranate color has a harmonious velvety taste with a chocolate flavor. It contains 10.5-12.0% alcohol, 3-5% sugar and has 5-7% titrated acidity. The wine has been manufactured since 1958. At international exhibitions it was awarded 6 gold and 5 silver medals.
    • Khvanchkara is a fine naturally semi-sweet red wine made from the Alexandria & Mudzhuretuli grape varieties cultivated in the Khvanchkara vineyards in Western Georgia. The wine has a strong specific bouquet and a harmonious velvety taste with a raspberry flavor. It is of dark-ruby color. The Khvanchkara wine is one of the most popular Georgian semi-sweet wines. It contains 10.5-12.0% alcohol, 3-5% sugar and has 5.0-7.0% titrated acidity. The wine has been manufactured since 1907. For its excellent taste it was awarded 2 gold & 4 silver medals at international exhibitions.
    • Kindzmarauli is a high quality naturally semi-sweet wine of dark-red color. It is made from the Saperavi grape variety cultivated on the slopes of the Caucasian mountains in the Kvareli district of Kakheti. It has a strong characteristic bouquet and aroma, a gentle harmonious and velvety taste. The wonderful taste and curative properties have won Kindzmarauli general recognition. The wine contains 10.5-12.0% alcohol, 3-5% sugar and has 5.0-7.0% titrated acidity. It has been manufactured since 1942. For its supreme qualities Kindzmarauli was 3 gold, 4 silver & 1 bronze medal at international wine competitions.
    • Mukuzani is a dry red wine made from 100% Saperavi in Mukuzani, Kakheti. The wine is sourced from the very best wines of the vintage that have been fermented at controlled temperatures and with selected yeast strains. The wines are then matured for 3 years in oak to give the wine-added complexity and flavor. Mukuzani is considered to be the best of the Georgian Dry Red wines made from Saperavi. It has won 9 gold medals, 2 silver medals and 3 bronze medals in international competitions.
    • Napareuli
    • Ojaleshi is one of the best red semi-sweet wines made from the grape variety of the same name cultivated on the mountain slopes overhanging the banks of the Tskhenis-Tskali river, particularly in the Orbeli village and Samegrelo district (Western Georgia). Odzhaleshi has dark-ruby colour, a gentle bouquet and aroma, a harmonious rich taste with a fruity flavor. It contains 10-12% alcohol, 3-5% sugar and has a titrated acidity of 5-6%.
    • Pirosmani is a naturally semi-sweet red wine. It is made from the Saperavi grape variety cultivated in the Akhoebi vineyards of the Kardanakhi village in the Alazani Valley. The wine is fermented in clay jars buried in the ground, an ancient Kakhetian technology of wine-making. When ready for use, the wine contains 10.5-12% alcohol, 1.5-2.5% sugar and has 5-7% titrated acidity.
    • Saperavi is an ordinary table red wine made from the Saperavi grape variety grown in some areas of Kakheti. It is an extractive wine with a characteristic bouquet, a harmonious taste and pleasant astringency. Its strength is 10.5-12.5% and titrated acidity 5-7%. At the international wine competitions this wine received one gold and one silver medal. It has been produced since 1886.
    • Usakhelauri is a naturally semi-sweet wine, which is superior to all other wines of this kind for its gentle and subtle qualities. It is produced from the excellent Usakhelauri grape variety cultivated mostly in the Zubi-Okureshi district in Western Georgia. Vineyards are arranged on the mountain slopes. The wine has attractive ruby color, harmonious sweetness with a wild strawberry flavor. It is noted for a pleasant velvety taste, a delicate bouquet and inimitable piquancy. The wine contains up to 10.5-12.0% alcohol, 3-5% sugar and has 5-7% titrated acidity. It has been manufactured since 1943. The word "Usakhelauri" means "nameless" in Georgia. The wine was so fine that it was hard to find an adequate name for it. At international exhibitions Usakhelauri was awarded 2 gold and 3 silver medals.
    • Apsny is a naturally semi-sweet red wine made of red grape varieties cultivated in Abkhazia. The wine of pomegranate color has a pleasant aroma, a full and harmonious taste with gentle sweetness. When ready for use, the wine contains 9-10% alcohol, 3-5% sugar and has 5-7% titrated acidity. At an international exhibition the wine received one silver medal.
    • Lykhny is a naturally semi-sweet pink wine made of the Izabela grape variety cultivated in Abkhazia. The wine has pink color, a specific aroma and a fresh harmonious taste. When ready for use, the wine contains 8-9% alcohol, 3-5% sugar and has 5-7% titrated acidity. At international exhibitions Lykhny was awarded one silver and one bronze medal.
    • Mtatsminda is a pink table semi-dry wine produced since 1984. It is prepared by the original technology from the Saperavi, Tavkveri, Asuretuli, Rkatsiteli and other grape varieties grown in Tetritskaro, Kaspi, Gori and Khashuri districts. The wine is characterized by a harmonious taste with a fruity aroma and a beautiful color. The alcohol content is 9-11.5%, sugar content 1-2%, titrated acidity 5-7 g/l.
    • Aguna is a pink semi-dry wine produced since 1984. It is made from the Saperavi, Cabernet and Rkatsiteli grape varieties grown in East Georgia. The wine has a rich fruity taste. The alcohol content is 9-11.5%, sugar content 1-2%, titrated acidity 5-7 g/l.
    • Sachino is a pink semi-dry wine produced since 1984. It is made by the original method from the Aleksandreuli, Aladasturi, Odzhaleshi, Tsitska, Tsolikauri and other grape varieties cultivated in West Georgia. The wine is notable for a mild taste, a moderate extractibility, a pure aroma and a beautiful color. The alcohol content is 9-11.5%, sugar content 1-2%, titrated acidity 5-7 g/l.
    • Barakoni is a naturally semi-dry red wine made from the unique Alexandreuli and Mudzhuretuli grape varieties cultivated in Western Georgia on the steep slopes of the Rioni gorge in the Caucasian mountains. This top quality wine of light-ruby color has a fine fragrance of violets, natural pleasant sweetness and a tender harmonious taste. When ready for use, Barakoni contains 10-12% alcohol, 1.5-2.5% sugar and has 5-7% titrated acidity. The wine has been manufactured since 1981.
    • Salkhino is a liqueur-type of dessert wine made from the Izabella grape variety with an addition of the Dzvelshava, Tsolikauri and other grape varieties cultivated in the Mayakovski district (Western Georgia). It has characteristic ruby or pomegranate color. The alcohol content is 15%, sugar content 30%, titrated acidity 3-7 g/l. At international competitions the wine received 6 gold medals. It has been produced since 1928
    • Alaverdi (White and Red)
    • Alazani (Red) is a light red, semi-sweet wine made from a 60% Saperavi, 40% Rkatsiteli blend. It has won 3 gold medals and 3 silver medals at international competitions. The name comes from one of the major river systems of Georgia that borders Georgia with Azerbaijan. The climate is slightly warmer than the rest of the Georgian Wine growing regions and gives rise to much sweeter grapes than those found elseware.
    • Rkatsiteli Mtsvani
    • Saperavi Dzelshavi

Fortified

    • Kardanakhi is a fortified vintage white wine of the type. It is made from the Rkatsiteli grape variety cultivated in the Kardanakhi vineyards of the Gurdzhaani district. The wine matures in oak barrels for three years. The amber color wine has a pleasant specific bouquet with a typical port wine flavor and a fine honey fragrance. It contains 18% alcohol, 10% sugar and has 4-6% titrated acidity. Kardanakhi has been manufactured since 1976. It was awarded 8 gold and one silver international medals.
    • Anaga is a madeira-type top-quality strong wine made from the Rkatsiteli, Khikhvi and Mtsvane grape varieties cultivated in the Gurjaani, Sighnaghi and Tsitel-Tskaro districts. The wine has light-golden to dark-amber color, a strong peculiar bouquet, an extractive harmonious taste with a clearly pronounced Madeira touch. The alcohol content is 19%, sugar content 4 g/ml, titrated acidity 3 - 7 g/l. The Anaga wine was awarded 1 international silver medal.
    • Sighnaghi is an ordinary strong wine of the port type made from the Rkatsiteli grape variety grown in the Sighnaghi district in Kakheti. The amber-color wine has an extractive harmonious taste with a clearly pronounced fruity touch. The alcohol content 3 g/100 ml, titrated acidity 5 g/l.
    • Veria is a fortified vintage white port made from the Rkatsiteli, Mtsvane, Chinuri and other commercial grape varieties grown in Eastern Georgia. The amber-color wine has a peculiar aroma and harmonious taste. Its strength is 18 vol.%, sugar content 7%, titrated acidity 3-7 g/1. At an international wine competition it received 1 gold medal. The wine has been produced since 1977.
    • Lelo is a port-type wine made from the Tsitska and Tsolikauri grape varieties grown in Zestaphoni, Terjola, Baghdati and Vani districts. The wine has a rich harmonious taste with a fruity aroma and a beautiful golden color. The alcohol content is 19%, sugar content 5 %, titrated acidity 6 g/l.
    • Marabda is a port-type wine made from the Rkatsiteli grape variety grown in Marneuli and Bolnisi districts. It has a full harmonious taste with a fruity aroma & light-golden color. The alcohol content is 19%, sugar content 5%, titrated acidity 6 g/l.
    • Kolkheti is a fortified vintage white port is made from Tsolikauri, Tsitska and other commercial white grape varieties grown in Western Georgia. The amber-color wine has a specific bouquet and harmonious taste. Its strength is 18 vol.%, sugar content 7 %, titrated acidity 3-7 g/l. At an international competition the wine received one silver medal. It has been produced since 1977.
    • Taribana is a port-type wine made from the Rkatsiteli grape veriety cultivated in Kakheti. The wine has a mild oily taste, a low sugar content and a beautiful color. The alcohol content is 19%, sugar content 5%, titrated acidity 5 g/l.

Wine-growing regions of Georgia

There are five main regions of viniculture, the principal region being Kakheti, which produces seventy percent of Georgia's grapes. Traditionally, Georgian wines carry the name of the source region, district, or village, much like French regional wines such as Bordeaux or Burgundy. As with these French wines, Georgian wines are usually a blend of two or more grapes. For instance, one of the best-known white wines, Tsinandali, is a blend of Rkatsiteli and Mtsvane grapes from the micro regions of Telavi and Kvareli in the Kakheti region.

Views
Personal tools