Posted by: tomciocco | April 12, 2012


One day, real soon, Georgia is going to shake off all of its external and internal troubles, and finally be able to fully and properly show the world its fabulous cultural history. This amazingly rich, and shockingly beautiful place has a long and particular tradition of dance, music, literature, plastic arts, cuisine, and second to none of these, the art of wine and the vine as well – hell, the Georgians more or less invented it…over 6,000 years ago…

In all liklihood, the wine grape itself, or vitis vinifera if you want to get all Latin about it, originates in what is now Georgia too, and this country that is only roughly the size of South Carolina counts over 400 uniquely Georgian wine grape varieties. One of the few Georgian grape varieties with any notoriety outside of its homeland is this evening’s wine, the big and bold red called Saperavi (another is the cold resistent Rkatsiteli which is the one of the most widely planted white varieties in the eastern U.S., believe it or not).

But as I began saying, Saperavi, Rkatsiteli, or any of the hundreds of others don’t matter one cracked seed if you can’t find them, or if what you can find is of questionable quality, or perhaps even counterfeit.  The story is one common to many of the former Soviet bloc states: political instability and infrastructural deficiencies inhibit investment and development, and the sector languishes. That said, there is a fairly sizable quantity of good to very good and even great  wine being made in Georgia, and the output is increasing steadily, and one day, real Georgian wines like this will fill bins everywhere – Gagimarjos! (“Cheers” in Georgian).

Dinner was of course, Georgian: a first course of a spinach, thick yogurt, and spices spread (including marigold petals, which is a common seasoning in Georgia), and then then Georgian-style grilled beef and lamb kebabs with onion, parsley, cilantro, pomegranate molasses, and a shortcut plavi  (AKA pilaf) with raisins, carrots, hot pepper paste, garlic, and chicken broth.










Teliani Valley Saperavi, Kakheti Region, Georgia 2008

Very deep blackish-purple color. Spicy, smokey nose with notes of boullion cube, beeswax, bread crust, sap, aromatic herbs, and currant and blackberry fruit. The palate is smooth and polished but with dry and peppery tannins, and juicy, sweet/tart plum and black cherry fruit flavors supported by notes of wanlnut butter, black tea, and bitter chocolate. The finish is clean, savory and dry.


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