Georgian Grape Varieties
According to Kakhetian winemakers there are more than 500 sorts of vine cultivated in Georgia. A quick excurse to the history of vine: specialists and experts know that this is rather difficult to talk about the antiquity of one or the other vine type. This is also fair attitude towards Georgian sorts. The thing is that the wine card of Europe was totally changed by the epidemics of phylloxera in 19th century. Having been brought from America together with the stalks of “Izabella” sort, the pest that had exterminated more than half of the continent’s vineyards. Contaminated vineyards were burned to ground and were cultivated with chemicals. It was though possible to save some part of the vines by cross-breeding them with the American grapevine. The grape was saved, but gustatory quality of wine has changed forever. Immense damage was brought by two world wars. Later in the 70-80’s there was a repeated invasion of pests. Still, no less harm had experienced the winemaking countries of the former USSR not from the epidemics, but from the reckless decisions of the Communists in 1985 who tried to overcome alcoholism and heavy drinking by cutting down thousands and thousands hectares of vinery. During those years many departments of winegrowing had been closed. Terrible fact of the past refer to those times as well when desperate winemakers committed suicide.
Soviet Empire collapsed. It was hard to restore the loss. Some Georgian sorts were restored thanks to the co-operation of colleagues- winemakers from neighboring countries including Uzbekistan.
Today they grow both - popular and rare sorts of grapes in Georgia that would be known only to experts. For the gustatory quality of each sort of vine in general and the Kakhetian in particular, the most important is its place of growth, the micro zone.
We will not name all types of wine that are made from these 500 sorts of vine but list the most popular ones of the Kakhetian sort.
Saperavi (Georgian “dyer”) is famous for its rare sort, the juice is not transparent but has a beetroot red color. Red wines from the vine sort “Saperavi”: dry “Mukuzani” and “Napareuli”, dry vintage “Kvareli”, dry “Saperavi”, semi-dry “Alaverdi” and “Pirosmani”, semi-sweet “Kindzmarauli”, “Algetti” and “Akhasheni”. White Kakheti wine of sort Rkatsiteli: sorted white dry “Rkatsiteli”, “Tibaani” and “Garedji”.
Dry white wines of the vine sort Mtsvane: “Manavis Mtsvane” and “Goruli Mtsvane”. White wines made from mixing of vine sorts Rkatstiteli and Mtsvane: dry “Vazisubani” and “Ereti”, vintage “Gurdjaani” and famous “Tsinandali”.
Beside gustatory qualities, these vine sorts differ in agricultural productivity: there are sorts with productivity of 100 tonnes from one hectare, but there are those that make output not more than three tones from one hectare. Any attempt to increase the productivity of these sorts will affect the gustatory qualities of the wine. Thus experts hunt for rare sorts of Kakhetian wine made according to a special technology including “Kisi”, “Chinuri” and “Tavkveri”.