My Favorite Sparkling Wines from the Republic of Georgia
Rolling green hills and the open expanse of lush vineyards dominate the panorama of the Alazani Valley. A wise man once said that the land of the gods is in essence, a vineyard between two mountain ranges. Since the legendary quest of Jason and the Argonauts to the land of Colchis, as this fabled land was known in antiquity, the Greek heroes discovered something more valuable than the coveted “Golden Fleece.” What they found was simply the best wine in the world. Wine is and has always been, what truly defines the Republic of Georgia.
Today I am once again joined by my fellow sommeliers, Medea and Shorena. From our terrace vista, we have a lovely view of our hostʼs vineyards. Our table has been impeccably set to include an assortment of local fruits, goat cheese, and of course, lavash bread.
“Grigol, we have selected three of your favorite sparkling wines from Bagrationi 1882,” Medea said assuredly.
It was Prince Ivane Bagrationi Mukhraneli who first launched production according to French methods back in 1882. Today they can can proudly boast that they are Georgiaʼs leading producer of sparkling wines.
“Excellent selection,” I smiled as I looked over the wines. “We shall start with the Classic Brut,” Shorena spoke with anticipation.
Anyone who knows champagne is quick to note that the three most common used grape varietals are pinot noir, chardonnay, and pinot meunier. Not in Georgia. Local winemakers are partial to using only indigenous grape varietals.
“Our Classic Brut,” Shorena paused momentarily to collect her thoughts. “Our Classic Brut is made from Chinuri, Tsitska, and Mtsvane Grapes.”
“Methode Charmat,” Medea was quick to add.
Holding up my glass, the wine has a pale straw color with steady vigorous bubbles. The nose is a bit reserved with a subtle hint of apple and pear.
Gaumarjos! We jubilantly toasted each other.
On the palate, the Classic Brut is very clean and crisp with light green apple flavors. It is light in style, even on the finish.
“Very Prosecco-like,” Medea said matter-of-factly. “All in all, a fine bubbly.” Shorena was pleased by her selection.
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“Grigol,” Medea exclaimed with excitement. “I selected a bottle of your favorite.” “The Reserve Brut?ʼ I cocked a curious brow. “Indeed. It is a 2007.”Medea said proudly.
The Reserve Brut is made using methode Champenoise. The grape varietals are Chinuri, Tsitska, and Mtsvane. It is pale yellow straw in color. The nose is light and floral. On the palate, it has a creamy mouth-feel with good depth of ripe pear and fruit flavors. The finish is exceptionally strong with persistent flavors and a crisp dryness.
“I love this wine,” Medea smiled softly. “I especially like the finish.”
Shorena nodded in agreement. “This wine also has good depth.”
“Our last wine is a 2007 Royal Cuvee,” Medea handed me the bottle. “Grigol, perhaps you should share with your readers the correct way to open a bottle of sparkling wine.”
Flashing a quick smile, I nodded in agreement. “Actually it is quite simple. Place one hand on the cork and the other on the bottle. I usually turn clockwise with the hand on the cork and counter-clockwise with the hand that is on the bottle. Voila … no spray or spills. Only a nice pop.”
“You ought to see him do it with a sword, Medea laughed with delight. “Pity we donʼt have a Shaska saber on hand,” Shorena joined in on the merriment. Chuckling under my breath. “Ladies, letʼs press on.”
Our 2007 Royal Cuvee proved to be a most elegant wine. On the nose, it is delicate and refined with a hint of white flowers, and ripe apple. It has an expressive palate with excellent acidity and balance. There is also a creaminess of ripe pear and a hint of almond. The finish is crisp, long, and with a persistent richness. The Royal Cuvee is made from a blend of old vine Chinuri grapes using methode Champenoise.
“The grapes are from the Kartli region?” I queried. “Of course, “ Medea replied. “A fine wine indeed, “ I flashed a smile. “I could drink this wine all day long, “ Shorena exclaimed. “Touche,” Medea agreed as she applauded the wine. “Ladies, you out did yourself today,” I nodded in approval. “What is next for this trip?”
Medea gave a subtle grin. This weekend we have a very special tasting planned when we arrive in Batumi Beach.”
“But that my friends is another story … “