The indigenous “vine of Alexander,” Aleksandrouli has been nurtured for a long time in the mountainous hillsides of Racha-Lechkhumi in western Georgia. Long thought to be a completely distinct variety to Mujuretuli, they are now known to be separate varieties with a common ancestor.
The most notable plantings of Aleksandrouli are in the Ambrolauri, Oni and Tsageri districts on the Rioni River, which tumbles down the Caucasus Mountains into the Black Sea. Though it could grow any in the country, is drought-resistant and can grow well on many different types of soils, until recently it was rarely seen out of Racha-Lechkhumi. It produces particularly high-quality wine on sunny, south- and southwestern-facing vineyards with stony and calcareous soils, such as those on the right bank of the Rioni in lower Racha, most famously in the PDO Khvanchkara, but also in Tola, Bostana, Chorjo, Chrebalo, Joshkhi, and Sadmeli. They note, too, that Aleksandrouli also does comparatively well on heavy clay soils.
Aleksandrouli’s conical bunches can range medium to large in size, typically with no shoulders, with average density. The grape berry is round, of average size, and dark blue in colour. Naturally low yielding, it can grow up to 800 meters above sea level, and, as fitting for a mountainous variety, it is frost-resistant. Budburst occurs in the first three weeks of April with harvest in the first half of October. The juice will have sugar levels of 22-27% and total acidity between 5-7g/l. The exact harvest time will depend on the ultimate style of wine intended.
Aleksandrouli’s historic fame comes from its partnership with Mujuretuli in producing the distinctive, naturally semi-sweet Khvanchkara. Whether fermented for dry or semi-sweet wines, Aleksandrouli is typically blended with Mujuretuli, but sometimes with Ojaleshi or Usakhelouri. Its flavour profile usually includes red berries, cherries and mulberries (“tuta”). As a dry wine in Kartli, tobacco, pepper and meaty flavours bring complexity to the fruit; its chewy character and supple tannins suggest considerable potential to improve in bottle.