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The Saperavi Grape


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About Saperavi

(Synonyms: Atenuri Saperavi, Meskhuri Saperavi, Obchuri Saperavi.)

Background

Map showing Georgia (the nation)

Saperavi is a red-wine grape originating in Georgia (the nation, not the state!). Georgia is thought to be the locale where wine-making was first practiced by humans; they have been making wine there for more than 8,000 years. Saperavi is itself an ancient wine-grape variety, and is today the most-planted red grape in Georgia, a nation that is a major producer of wines (though few reach the U.S.).

Saperavi has evolved several fairly distinct clones, but the paucity of Saperavi wines available in the U.S. renders that fact largely irrelevant.

Saperavi is a big, rich, deeply flavored wine, suggesting dark fruit; it can age quite well, and is really one of the better red wines of the world when well made. It is invariably a deep, inky color (indeed, its name comes from the native word for “dye”. There is now also some work being done with the grape in Australia, and in the Finger Lakes region of New York State.

Georgian winemaker with qvevri (1881)

Like may wines of Georgia, Saperavi is often vinified using the ancient method of the qvevry. Qvevri (also spelled “Kvevri”) are, to quote Wikipedia, “large earthenware vessels used for the fermentation, storage and ageing of traditional Georgian wine. Resembling large, egg-shaped amphorae without handles, they are either buried below ground or set into the floors of large wine cellars. Kvevris vary in size: volumes range from 20 litres to around 10,000; 800 is typical.” The procedure is itself ancient; again quoting Wikipedia: “the process of making wine in Kvevri involves pressing the grapes and then pouring the juice, grape skins, stalks, and pips into the Kvevri, which is then sealed. The juice is then left to ferment into wine for at least five to six months before being decanted and bottled.” The qvevri is buried in the earth, often completely so (after being initially sealed). (It may be noted that both red and white wines are often vinified in that way.) The burial of the qvevri keeps the large vessels from cracking or shattering under the weight and pressure of the huge amounts of wine in each, plus the surrounding earth acts as something of a “refrigerator”, keeping the temperature of the wine to a steady narrow cool range.

The premium renditions of Saperavi are two: Mukuzani, a dry wine aged for 3 years, produced in the Mukuzani region, sourced from the best of the local vintages; and Napareuli, a dry wine, also aged for 3 years, produced in the Telavi region, and also sourced from the best of the local vintages.

Factoid: The native Georgian way of spelling Qvevri is Kvevri; the spelling with a Q arose because when Georgian is typed on a standard keyboard, the key assigned to that K is actually the Q key. So it comes about that Georgians spelling the name in English render it with the qvevri spelling.

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Some Descriptions of Saperavi Wines

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Some Saperavis to Try

(About this list.)

Pheasant’s Tears Saperavi

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
  (CellarTracker has two separate listings for this wine.)
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Chateau Mukhrani Saperavi
(This is their basic Saperavi bottling; they have several others.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Teliani Valley “Kindzmarauli” Saperavi

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Telavi Marani “Mukuzani” Saperavi
(This is their “Mukuzani” bottling, not their basic, which is listed below.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Marani Saperavi
(This is their basic bottling, not their “Mukuzani”, which is listed above.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks

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For a Splurge

We could find no reasonably available Saperavi wines better enough than those listed above as to justify a “splurge” price.

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This page was last modified on Monday, 23 March 2020, at 3:52 pm Pacific Time.