Saperavi – the Georgian wine varietal attracting attention

When I visited some wineries in Queensland’s Granite Belt, I used to be pleasantly shocked to search out saperavi, a tasty varietal I hadn’t come throughout earlier than. What’s occurring there?

I.P., Mullumbimby, NSW

Credit:Simon Letch

The good wine folks of the Granite Belt area in south-east Queensland have made a speciality of left-field grape varieties. Not solely saperavi, however pinotage, tannat, malbec, nero d’avola and graciano. And in whites, alvarinho, fiano, manseng, roussanne and vermentino. There’s even the Strange Bird Wine Trail, designed to steer the vacationer round wineries that make these “alternative” varietal wines.

I observe you found a saperavi cabernet merlot mix at one vineyard and a saperavi durif mix at one other, to not point out straight saperavi at a 3rd. There’s no finish of prospects if you dig into the “other” grape varieties that abound on the planet of wine.

Saperavi is a grape native to Georgia, within the Caucasus, the place it has been farmed and vinified for hundreds of years. Its drought tolerance and late ripening swimsuit sizzling, dry areas.

The conventional Georgian method to ferment wine is in massive, baked, clay vessels known as qvevri which can be buried within the floor. The earth offers pure cooling, whereas the clay is inert – that’s, it doesn’t impart any flavour to the wine. It’s not as porous as an oak barrel, nor as sterile as a stainless-steel tank.


There are a number of excellent saperavis to be present in different areas. Hugh Hamilton from South Australia’s McLaren Vale is one thing of a specialist. He’s even made saperavi in Georgia and offered it in a twin pack along with his McLaren Vale model.

According to the Strange Bird website, saperavi is a deeply colored purple wine with excessive acidity, suited to prolonged ageing, and goes with wealthy meat dishes. In my expertise, it may be nearly overwhelming in depth, color, aroma, flavour and construction; it has quite a lot of tannin and quite a lot of acid. It ages slowly, although, retaining its youthful color and vigour for a very long time. It’s in all probability not for everybody; and in the event you discover it a bit full-on, simply serve it with the heartiest red-meat dish you could find – or the strongest cheese!

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