The country of Georgia is situated on the eastern shore of the Black Sea. Russia is its neighbor to the north, Turkey and Armenia lie to the south and Azerbaijan to the east. We may just be discovering wines from Georgia, but the winemaking history there goes back 8,000 years.
Georgia’s fascinating winemaking includes more than 500 indigenous grape varieties. Of the more than 123,000 acres planted, 75% are planted to white varieties and 25% to red. Rkatsiteli (white) and Saperavi (red) are the most prominent varieties.
An important and unique part of winemaking in Georgia includes the use of egg-shaped clay vessels called qvevri. These large, handmade vessels are buried in the ground to help control the temperature during fermentation. Wines (both red and white) are fermented on the skins in this manner. For white grapes, the resulting wine takes on an orange or amber hue.
There are more than 100,000 family wineries in Georgia. In 2019 only 1,088 Georgian wine companies were registered to sell wine commercially and only 341 exported wine in 2019. The number of commercial wineries is growing steadily and 10 wine regions have been established with 24 areas defined as Protected Designation of Origin (PDO). The Wines of Georgia website is a detailed, current source of information about winemaking in the country of Georgia. Check it out!
2014 doqi Saperavi Kakheti, Georgia — dense ruby in the glass with aromas of tart red fruit, bacon and roses. Flavors of tart red fruit include pomegranates, raspberries and cherries along with blackberries and hints of alfalfa hay. The body is round and silky with fine, drying tannins and balanced acidity. The finish is long. 13% abv. SRP $27
I love everything about this wine. The flavors are bright, complex and balanced. The silky texture of this wine is balanced perfectly by fine but drying tannins. It is so sippable and with food the fruit flavors come to the forefront even more. And that low abv is very attractive.
Saperavi grapes were fermented in qvevri for a few weeks before being transferred to French oak for 12 months of aging. This wine and its companion, were imported by Blue Danube Wine Company. The owners of Blue Danube retired and closed the company in 2019. Danch & Granger Selection was established by two former Blue Danube employees and imports wine from many of the same countries as Blue Danube. If you search diligently online you may still find these wines available. We highly recommend both.
We enjoyed this fruit-forward Saperavi with my mother’s recipe for Portuguese-style beans. I know it’s a clash of cultures, but the pairing was delicious.
POrtuguese-Style Beans Ingredients
1 pound pink beans, picked over and soaked in water overnight
4 slices of bacon, diced
1 package (usually less than 16 oz) linguica
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 bell pepper, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 garlic clove, diced
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1- 8 oz can tomato sauce
1/3 cup ketchup
- Drain beans, cover with water, bring to a boil, add cumin and simmer for 1 hour.
- Sauté bacon, onion, bell pepper and garlic until bacon is browned and vegetables are tender.
- Add sautéed bacon and vegetables, cinnamon, black pepper, tomato sauce and ketchup to the beans. Stir well and simmer slowly for at least 2 hours, covered, until the beans are tender. Stir occasionally and add water as needed.
- Slice linguica and sauté. Add to the beans and stir well. Continue to simmer for 30 minutes. Adjust seasonings as needed.
Note: cooking time can vary, but takes 3 hours or more. Don’t be in a hurry. Put the beans on to cook and enjoy the aromas. The addition of linguica is optional.