Ateni is Kartli’s only PDO, and Georgia’s only PDO dedicated to sparkling wine.
Close to the town of Gori in Inner Kartli, Ateni PDO is close to north-eastern reaches of the Trialeti mountain range. The PDO stretches along both sides of the Tana river at an altitude between 620-750m above sea level. It’s only 14.5 km square, covering the small Ateni gorge.
This gorge is very different from those in other gorges of Inner Kartli, mostly due to the fact that the Tana River gorge on the right of the Mtkvari River offers maximum protection from the prevailing winds off the mountains.
The PDO was already known in the Middle Ages for its naturally sparkling wines, and although vineyards continue to be tened in the gorge, and wine continues to be made, no company currently produces wine under the appellation.
Qvevri were buried in the upper reaches of the gorge in order to make use of the natueally low temps to preserve the wine’s sugar content and carbon dioxide. Prince Vakhusti mentions a place called satsivi – ‘cold places like glaciers where outstanding wine in made’ – this place still exists, though the qvevris are too damanged to use.
Today, the most windespread varieties in the Ateni gorge are Chinuri and Coruli Mtsvane. But high-quality light red wines are also produced here from Saperavi and Tavkveri.