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Georgian Grape Varieties : Georgian Wines
   
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Georgian Grape Varieties

The Georgian names for their indigenous grape varieties often make specific reference to its origin or some distinguishing characteristics. While Georgia is home to at least 525 distinct grape varieties (Ketskhoveli et al. 1960), the collectivization of agriculture during the Stalinist regime, and later, Gorbachev’s anti-alcohol campaign in the 1980s led to the grubbing up of vast swaths of these indigenous varieties. Today, while only about 45 are in current commercial production, the Georgian government is engaged in concerted efforts to increase the genetic diversity within the country’s vineyards. Apart academic work to grow and study many now-obscure varieties, in 2014 the government has launched a program to encourage and support the planting of more of the forgotten varieties. In summer 2014, the National Wine Agency distributed 7000 plants to various growers, with plans to increase to 70,000 vine plants.

White Grapes

Goruli Mtsvane

A variety of white grape which comes from the region of Kartli and ripens late. Very lively and joyful wines are produced from this grape, with aromas of lime, wild flowers and spring honey. When mixed with Chinuri grapes, Goruli mtsvane gives rise to a sparkling wine with a special, characteristic flavour.

Kisi

A Georgian variety of white grape which grows in eastern Georgia. Both classical (European) and traditional Kakhetian (qvevri) wines produced from Kisi grapes have unforgettable aromas and flavours. The best micro- zones are the regions around Telavi, Kvareli and Akhmeta. This grape is most widespread around the village of Maghraani in the region of Akhmeta. Traditional Kakhetian wine made from Kisi grapes is characterized by aromas of ripe pear, French marigold, tobacco and walnut.

Tsitska

A Georgian variety of white grape belonging to the Imeretian family of aboriginal varieties of grape. Tsitska ripens late and gives rise to light, straw-coloured wines with greenish tones characterized by aromas of vegetation and hints of pear, lemon, honey and melon. Tsitska wines tend to be very acidic and lively.

Krakhuna

A variety of white grape which comes from the region of Kartli, where it is very widespread. Chinuri ripens late and in prolific quantities. Green or straw-coloured wines distinguished by their softness. Also sparkling wines are made from this grape. Characterized by hints of wild mint and forest (wild) pear.

Krakhuna

A Georgian variety of white grape which tends to ripen late, and from which some of the strongest and most full-bodied Imeretian white wines are produced. Wines produced from Krakhuna grapes have a high alcoholic content, are straw coloured with tints of golden sunlight, and have aromas of ripe fruit (apricot or banana, for example) and honey.

Tsolikouri

A Georgian variety of white grape which belongs to the Imeretian family of aboriginal varieties of grape, the second most widespread variety of grape Rkatsiteli. Besides Imereti, Tsolikouri grows in the regions of Racha-Lechkhumi, Guria, Samegrelo, Adjara and Apkhazeti. Tsolikouri ripens late, and gives rise to light, straw-coloured wines with aromas of citrus fruit, white plum, yellow fruit (mushmala, for example) and flowers. Wines produced from Tsolikouri are more full-bodied than those produced from Tsitska.

Rkatsiteli

A variety of white grape which could be described as the defining variety of traditional Kakhetian wine. This variety belongs to the Kakheian family of grape varieties, yet is very widespread throughout all regions of Georgia as well as abroad. In the different wine regions of Kakheti this grape ripens between mid-September and mid-October. The following high-quality, classical (European) and traditional Kakhetian (qvevri) wine are produced from Rkatsiteli grapes: table wine, regional wine, and appellation controlled wines. Rkatsiteli grapes are very often mixed with Mtsvane khakhuri variety.

Chinuri

A variety of white grape which comes from the region of Kartli and ripens late. Very lively and joyful wines are produced from this grape, with aromas of lime, wild flowers and spring honey. When mixed with Chinuri grapes, Goruli mtsvane gives rise to a sparkling wine with a special, characteristic flavour.

Khikhvi

A Georgian variety of white grape which, according to its geographical location, belongs to the Kakhetian family of white grape varieties. It ripens between the first days of September and the second half of the month. Very distinguished classical (European) and traditional Kakhetian (qvevri) wines are produced from the Khikhvi grape. In a European wine made from Khikhvi grapes, the aroma of exotic plants such as box tree is particularly noticeable, whereas a traditional Kakhetian wine produced from Khikhvi grapes in a qvevri tends to have tones reminiscent of ripe fruit or yellow dried fruit.

Mtsvane Kakhuri

A Georgian variety of white grape which, according to its geographical location, belongs to the Kakhetian family of grape varieties. In the vineyards of Kakheti this grape reaches the peak of ripeness during the second half of September. The following high-quality, classical (European) and traditional Kakhetian (qvevri) wines are produced from Mtsvane kakhuri grapes: table wine, regional wine, and appellation controlled wines. The best micro-zones are Manavi, Kondoli, Tsinandali, Ikalto, Ruispiri, Zemo Khodasheni, Napareuli, Saniore, Artana and Akhmeta. This wine is characterized by hints of vineyard peach and of fruit trees in bloom as well as by mineral overtones.

Red Grapes

Usakhelouri

A Georgian variety of red grape widespread in the Tsageri district of the region of Lechkhumi. Ripens later than average, the grapes beginning to ripen towards the end of September. The harvests tend to be small. Usakhelouri gives rise to dignified, naturally semisweet or dry wines with very rich aromas of fruit.

Chkhaveri

A Georgian variety of rosé grape mostly found in Guria. Chkhaveri would have been a maghlari wine (i.e. it would have been trained to grow up trees) during the early period of viticulture in Georgia. Ripens very late. In Guria, this grape ripens during the second half of November, and its harvest tends to be small. Wines produced from Chkhaveri are straw, light rosé or amber in colour. The Chkhaveri grape gives rise to soft and harmonious wines with a high alcoholic content and with aromas of peach or white fruit perfectly blending sweetness and acidity. The best Chkhaveri wines are produced in the villages of Sachamiaseri, Bukistsikhe, Askana, Bakhvi, Otskhana, Shemokmedi, etc.

Tavkveri

A variety of red grape from the region of Kartli, widespread in the region of Inner Kartli. Ripens late. The Tavkveri grape gives rise to interesting dry red or rosé wines with aromas of wild roses and red fruit.

Krakhuna

A Georgian variety of white grape which tends to ripen late, and from which some of the strongest and most full-bodied Imeretian white wines are produced. Wines produced from Krakhuna grapes have a high alcoholic content, are straw coloured with tints of golden sunlight, and have aromas of ripe fruit (apricot or banana, for example) and honey.

Ojaleshi

A Georgian variety of red grape widespread in Mingrelia. Ojaleshi would have been a maghlari wine (i.e. it would have been trained to grow up trees) during the early period of viticulture in Georgia. The best Ojaleshi grapes are to be found in the Martvili and Senaki districts. Ripens very late. In Samegrelo, this grape begins to ripen in mid-November and its harvest can last until the first half of December. Semi-sweet and dry red wines are made from the Ojaleshi grape, giving the wines amazing depth and character. The best Ojaleshi wine was made in the villages of the Martvili district, such as Salkhino, Tamakoni, Nakhunao, Abedati, etc.

Dzelshavi

Believed to be one of Georgia’s most archaic varieties of grape, Dzelshavi mostly grows in the regions of Racha and Imereti. Wines made from this variety are usually very soft and airy, but lively and highly-acidic summer wines can also be made.

Aleksandrouli

A variety of red grape from the region of Racha which is mostly to be found in the same region. Ripens later than average. Wines produced from Aleksandrouli grapes are dry or semi-sweet and are amazingly soft, with aromas of raspberry and black cherry.

Otskhanuri Sapere

A Georgian variety of red grape which is widespread in the region of Imereti and ripens between mid-October and the end of the month. Wine produced from Otskhanuri sapere grapes has a bright raspberry colour. Young wines have strong notes of vegetation and a somewhat rough taste, but when aged acquire a deep and elegant aroma as well as a rich and long finish.

Saperavi

A Georgian variety of red grape which can be found in every vineyard of the Kakheti winemaking region as well as in almost all the other regions of Georgia. Saperavi grapes can also be found abroad. In the winemaking region of Kakheti, this grape ripens during the second half of September but are harvested until the second half of October. High-quality red dry wines with great potential for ageing are produced from Saperavi grapes. Saperavi grapes are also used in the manufacture of sweet, semi-sweet and rosé wines. The best wine can be produced from Saperavi grapes picked in Mukuzani- Akhasheni, Khashmi, Kindzmarauli, Napareuli, Kvareli and Kondoli.

Shavkapito

One of the aboriginal varieties of the Kartlian family of grape varieties, widespread in the region of Inner Kartli. Ripens late. Strong, full-bodied wines with aromas of vegetation and berries (ripe cornelian cherries, for example) are produced from Shavkapito grapes.