90

2016 Tbilvino Qvevris, Kakheti

( £10.00, 12%, Marks & Spencer )

Marks & Spencer have culled a lot of the quirkier wines in their range of late, so I’m delighted that this left-field, skin-fermented white from Georgia, the so-called cradle of wine, is still on its shelves. Made from the local Rkatsiteli grape in the limestone-dominated area of Kakheti, it has funky, earthy, quince and orange peel flavours and some tannic grip. Dry and unusual, it’s a textbook introduction to wines fermented in clay pots, or qvevri.

BuyDrinking window: 2019-23Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Georgia, Dry, White, Rkatsiteli

How the other half drinks

by Matt Walls
Is there a quicker way to get to know someone than by flicking through their music collection or browsing their bookshelves? Both feel like a little glimpse into their soul....

Georgia: a visit to dreamland

by Tim Atkin
Visitors to the Georgian capital of Tbilisi were warned to stay off the streets last month. The city has seen its share of disorder over the centuries, but this had...
91

2012 Tbilvino Qvevris, Kakheti

( £9, 11.5%, Marks & Spencer )

Fresh from a trip to Georgia, I recommended this wine on Saturday Kitchen as a way of pushing the vinous boundaries on daytime TV. I’m delighted that it was so well received. As orange wines go, this Rkaciteli from the country’s best wine region, Kakheti, is not that extreme, as only part of the blend was fermented and aged in clay amphorae (qvevri). But it’s still a very good example of the style: bone dry and slightly bitter (from the skins) with notes of orange rind and black tea and a lingering, dry finish. 

BuyDrinking window: 2015-18Similar Wines: £5-£10, 91-95, Georgia, White, Rkaciteli

Rawfair steals the show

by Simon Woolf
It’s the third Monday in May. I’m in East London, in a barn of a building, buzzing with wine producers, press and trade. There’s a palpable sense of excitement throughout...
95

2010 Alaverdi Monastery Rkatsiteli, Kakheti

( POA, 13%, Les Caves de Pyrene )

This is the wine that first won me over to the charms of the qvevri – the most astoundingly complex nose of tea leaves, baked apples, jasmine, herbs and plum compote (and bear in mind my description does not remotely do it justice). Very much an amber/orange style, with chewy but perfectly ripe tannins – and yet the fruit shines through effortlessly. Outstanding.

BuyDrinking window: 2012-2018Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, Georgia, White, Rkatsiteli
93

2008 Vinoterra Cabernet Sauvignon, Kakheti

( N/A, 13%, Available from the winery )

A fascinating example of what happens if you take an international variety (Cabernet Sauvignon in this case) and ferment/mature it in a qvevri – in this case the wine was also matured in oak. Cabernet’s minty blackcurrant footprint is clearly present, together with herbaceous, spicy and balsamic hints. This is a big wine, with very ripe fruit, but super fresh and really rather elegant. Perhaps not entirely authentic, but original and stays true to the qvevri style. I drank this with Christmas roast goose and all the trimmings – a tough gig, but it held up.

BuyDrinking window: 2012-2028Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, Georgia, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon
92

2009 Vinoterra Saperavi, Kakheti

( €15.90, 13%, Geovino )

Trademark Saperavi produced by Gogi Dakishvili at Schuchmann Wines – Saperavi is perhaps the most important indigenous red grape variety in Georgia today. Peppery, raspberry and prune fruit with an attractive balsamic note. Spicy, tannic but well balanced. Feels effortless.

BuyDrinking window: 2012-2020Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Georgia, Red, Saperavi
92

2008 Vinoterra Mtsvane, Kakheti

( €11.90, %, Available from the winery )

Apart from being almost impossible to pronounce (seemingly half the letters are silent), Mtsvane has an entrancing soft, rounded texture, and in this example, an aroma of tea leaves and spiced plums. This is a great example of how these amber wines age effortlessly – and indeed are much better after a couple of extra years in bottle, when the tannins resulting from extended skin contact in the qvevri have integrated a bit.

BuyDrinking window: 2012-2016Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Georgia, White, Mtsvane