BuyDrinking window: 2023-29Similar Wines: £20-25, 95-100, Georgia, Saperavi
Way less funky or evolved than some of the Georgian reds that are fermented and aged in traditional clay pots (qvevri), this delicious red confirms Saperavi’s reputation as a world-class grape. Dark and brooding, with bramble, liquorice, damson and five spice flavours, plenty of refreshing acidity and well-managed, layered tannins. A delightful modern twist on an historic unwooded style.
BuyDrinking window: 2019-23Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Georgia, Dry, White, Rkatsiteli
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.
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....
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...
BuyDrinking window: 2015-18Similar Wines: £5-£10, 91-95, Georgia, White, Rkaciteli
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.
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...
BuyDrinking window: 2012-2018Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Georgia, White, Rkatsiteli
A very accessible qvevri wine, with melon, honey and floral aromas giving way to spicy but restrained tannins and apricot kernel. A great introduction to Rkatsiteli and the qvevri style.
BuyDrinking window: 2012-2022Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, Georgia, White, Kisi
Too young at the moment – winemaker Gogi says wait two years, but there’s a bright future for this complex, structured amber wine. The nose has everything from cooked plums, to toffee and caramel. Generous stone fruit and quite full bodied.
BuyDrinking window: 2012-2016Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Georgia, White, Mtsvane
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: 2012-2022Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, Georgia, White, Kisi
Alaverdi’s Kisi spends 6 months in the Qvevri, the skins and stalks lending it its deep amber colour, with fine-grained but persistent tannins. The aromas are intensely herbal, almost medicinal with hints of caramel and musk. Quite full bodied, with peachy, cooked stone fruit dominating the palate. Hugely complex, but needs food to show at its best.
BuyDrinking window: 2014-2024Similar Wines: £20-£30, 86-90, Georgia, Red, Saperavi
Alaverdi only produce around 20,000 bottles a year, and they had already run out of the 2010 vintage when we visited in November 2012. This 2011 Qvevri sample needs another year for the rather brutal tannins to resolve, but the purity and focus of the dark, berry fruit is evident. There’s some attractive ginger spiciness, terrific freshness and what Charles Metcalfe describes very aptly as a “balsamic hint”.
BuyDrinking window: 2012-2014Similar Wines: 91-95, Georgia, White, Tsolikouri
Apricot stone aroma, intense minerality and savoury fruit. You’d hardly know this qvevri-fermented wine had spent much time on the skins, as there’s very little phenolic influence. Beautiful balance, bone dry and a terrific match with a traditional Georgian salad of aubergines and tomatoes.