Saperavi wine grape

Saperavi is by far the dominant black grape of Georgia, and its second most planted variety after the white Rkatsiteli.  It’s rare to find a Georgian red that’s even a blend with anything else, which is perhaps a shame given the hundreds of native varieties the country potentially has to offer.
However, Saperavi does produce excellent wine, and has the almost unique benefit of a name that non-Georgians can readily pronounce!  (Say it “sah-per-RA-vee”.)  It’s a teinturier variety, its berries having red flesh as well as black skins, and consequently produces very deeply-coloured wines.  High in acidity and tannin, they can be tough when young but they age very well, especially under the softening influence of oak.  They are savoury and spicy, with plenty of dark cherry fruit and distinctive vegetal characteristics like beetroot and bell peppers.
An ancient variety with lots of different clones, Saperavi is believed to have originated in Georgia’s southwest, close to Turkey.  From there it spread, finding perhaps its best expression far to the east in Khaketi where its drought tolerance and frost-hardiness are well suited to the continental climate.
Beyond Georgia, it’s an important variety in nearby countries that also used to be part of the USSR such as Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and Azerbaijan.  There’s some in Armenia, Georgia’s southern neighbour, and a little across the Black Sea in Bulgaria.  A few enterprising Australian producers are experimenting with it.

Decanting Club wines containing: Saperavi

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