Georgian wine production has an established European-style regulatory structure. Just as in France, Italy and Spain, Georgian winemakers work within a quality system that rewards quality, prevents fraud, and regulates Protected Designation of Origin (PDO wines). Just as you have Chablis in France that must be produced in designated vineyards of the Chablis region using a designated grape (Chardonnay), in Georgia you have Tsinandali, a crisp white that must be produced in the Tsinandali region from specified grapes of Rkatsiteli and Mtsvane.
The PDO is an EU-wide scheme that recognises and protects typical food products, covering not just wine, but also cheese, and even our very own Cornish Pasty. PDO wines are “produced, processed and prepared in a given geographical area, using recognized know-how”. Their quality is determined by their environment and heritage. Essentially, PDOs protect and recognise wines with the taste of ‘somewhere’.
This hilly region in north-eastern Georgia has the cool climate necessary for making good sparkling wine. Permitted grapes are Chinuri (which ripens late and keeps its acidity), Gori Mtsvane and the French Aligoté. Fruity, bright and vibrant sparkling.
Dry White Wines
Bright and crisp, with delicate floral aromatics. If you like Gruner Veltliner, or Chablis, or event Pinot Grigio from Veneto, you will enjoy Tsinandali.
It is made wine grape varieties of Rkatsiteli and Kakhetian Mtsvane. The wine is characterized by its light straw color, and its harmonious, refined and developed bouquet and specific varietal aroma. Tsinandali is in Kakheti, on the right bank of the river Alazani. It is one of Georgia’s most well known and widely exported white wine PDOs.
Fuller bodied than Tsinandali. Gurjaani wine is made from Rkatsiteli grown in the middle of the Alazani river valley. Gurjaani has a light straw color, a harmonious, full bodied and refined taste and honeyed and peachy aromatics.
An exuberant blend of Kakhetian Mtsvane and Rkatsiteli, Vazisubani is another PDO of the Alazani valley. Fruity, smooth and floral, it is more aromatic than Tsinandali, and less weighty than Gurjaani.
Made principally from Kakhetian Mtsvane with up to 15% of Rkatsiteli. Has the pale greenish colour and bright, delicate, fresh tarragon aromatics of Mtsvane. Lively and refreshing with gentle richness.
Sviri features the Krakhuna and Tsitska grapes. The Sviri micro-zone is on the left bank of the Kvirila River. This bright, fruity, lightly creamy white wine has moderate alcohol and a fresh, perfumed nose.
This PDO is for skin-fermented Rkatsiteli produced using traditional Qvevri. Tibaani has a dark amber color, nutty aromas, intense bouquet, velvety taste and raisin flavours. The micro-zone is located in Shida Kakheti, the eastern part of the right side of the Alazani Valley.
Characterised by an amber colour, fruity aromatics and full body. Kakheti PDO wines are made of Rkatsiteli and Kakhetian Mtsvane from vineyards at the meeting point of the Alazani and Iori Rivers.
Red and White Wines
Napareuli is an historic wine village in the upper part of the Alazani River Valley in Kakheti. White Napareuli is made of Rkatsiteli and is straw-coloured, with aromas of meadow flowers. Red Napareuli is one of the most famous appellations for Saperavi, and has a deep red color, scented aromatics, and smooth but dense tannin.
White Kotekhi is made of Rkatsiteli. It is characterized by a light straw color and gently aromatic notes of fresh bay leaf. Red Kotekhi wine is made from Saperavi, and has an inky purple color with intense aromatics and dense, supple texture. The micro-zone is located in the middle stream of the Alazani River, on the right bank.
Dry Red Wine
A fragrant, intense and supple expression of the great Saperavi grape. Kvareli is known for perfumed red and black fruits, and full but velvety tannins. The micro-zone is located in Kakheti, Kvareli region, on the left bank of the Alazani River.
One of the most well known PDOs for Saperavi, prized for its intensity and energy. The Mukuzani zone has a moderate continental climate and gives rich, ripe Saperavi with trademark perfume and full, structured body. The micro-zone is located in Shida Kakheti, in the Gurjaani district, on the right bank of the Alazani River gorge.
Cabernet Sauvignon was introduced to Georgia in the 19th century. It thrives in several key zones and, despite the Georgian passion for their native grapes, is recognised for producing potentially top quality dry reds. Teliani is a PDO exclusively for Cabernet Sauvignon. It is characterized by a dark red color, pure cassis aromatics and a firm but fine structure. The micro-zone is in Kakheti, in the middle belt of the Alazani River.
Teliani village lies between Kisiskhevi and Vantiskhevi.
Georgian Sweet Wines
Georgia has a long tradition of sweet and medium-sweet wine. The best vineyards and PDOs give nicely balanced wines of great character and vibrancy. The off-dry reds are moderate in alcohol, with firm tannin offset by lively acidity and a hint of sweetness. They are delicious with spicy and chilli-hot foods. They are typically made from late-picked grapes with natural residual sweetness coming from arrested fermentation.
This amber coloured wine has exotic aromas of nuts and honey and a rich, sweet palate. It is made from Rkatsiteli, Khikhvi and Kakhuri Mtsvane grapes. Initial fermentation on the skins is stopped by the addition of grape spirit, leaving natural sugars. Kardenakhi is in the Gurjaani district of Kakheti.
A delicate off-dry white with the gentle fruitiness and delicate herbal aromatics of the Tsolikouri grape. The micro-zone is in Lechkhumi, in the Tsageri district, on the right bank of the Rioni River.
High quality naturally off-dry red made from late-picked Aleksandreuli and Mujuretuli grapes. Deep red, with bright cherry fruit and a supple, delicate sweet but still fresh palate. This PDO is in Racha, in the Ambrolauri district.
This naturally semi-sweet red is made from the Saperavi grape. It has a dark-pomegranate colour, fine but firm tannin, and rich fruit character of mocha and dark chocolate. The Akhasheni micro-zone is located in Shida Kakheti, at altitudes of 400-460m, in the middle section of the Alazani River.
This famous wine is made from Saperavi, in the heart of the Alazani River valley. Good Kindzmarauli is exotically but freshly perfumed, with notes of sweet spice, pine and raisins. The firm but fine tannins and naturally fresh acidity offset the residual sweetness – Kindzmarauli should not taste cloyingly sweet. Delicious with cheese, and with richly spiced foods. The micro-zone is located in Shida Kakheti, in the Kvareli region.