Saturday, November 21, 2020

Sun Wine 2018 Saperavi, Georgia

Sun Wine SaperaviWhen we talk about winemaking tradition in Georgia we’re talking about the former Soviet republic that intersects Europe and Asia.

Grapes From The Birthplace Of Wine

Batman and Robin have the batsignal. When that spotlight illuminates the sky with the bat emblem, the Dynamic Duo hop into the Batmobile ready to fight crime.

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I don’t have anything like that (although I do know some Jokers!) instead all I need is a simple call or email from my friend Arthur. That’s the signal to grab a nice bottle of wine and head for a (socially-distant) wine tasting.

Arthur had a couple of beautiful bottles, and I’ll share them in the near future. Today I’m focused on a very special bottle from the birthplace of wine that we enjoyed during a fabulous tasting on his back deck. I’m talking about Sun Wine 2018 Saperavi from the country of Georgia.

Georgia, the country that intersects Europe and Asia and was once a Soviet republic, is home to Caucasus Mountain villages, Black Sea beaches and an ancient wine-growing region producing over 500 unique grapes that produce exotic and affordable wines. In fact, once archeologists discovered qvevri (clay vessels) filled with grape seeds dating back to over 6,000 B.C., Georgia laid claim as the oldest winemaking region in the world.

Ancient Grapes In New Bottles

Saperavi is a hardy grape that is used to make Georgia’s most celebrated wines. It is also grown in  Armenia, Moldova, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and in small quantities in the Niagara and Finger Lakes regions of New York State and Northeast Ohio. I had my first taste of Saperavi at McGregor Vineyard in the Finger Lakes as part of a blend called Black Russian. It was delicious and I was anxious to try this new bottle.

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Saperavi from GeorgiaSada Wine Imports, a U.S. importer of Georgian wines,  released five wines under its family’s Sun Wine label to showcase Georgia’s 2018 vintage. The 2018 rtveli (harvest) was the first in 10 years that wasn’t subsidized by the state. Business is looking up and Georgian wine exports are at an all-time high.

The name Saperavi means “to give color” and the bottle we cracked open is 100% Saperavi. The label has an attractive photo of a vineyard inside the outline of the country of Georgia. The bottle proudly proclaims the country as the birthplace of wine and displays a Georgian flag. The wine retails for a tasty $19.

The Saperavi I had previously tasted was bold and tannic, so the Sun Saperavi was a bit of a surprise. The wine comes from the Georgia’s eastern Kakheti region, famous for its winemaking history and favorable climate for growing of several rare grape varieties. It has only 12% ABV and so is much lighter than I expected.

The wine is light bodied with aromas of cooked berries, leather and apricot. It is nicely balanced with notes of cherry and pomegranate.

I’m now enthusiastic about seeking out and trying more Georgian wine! I enjoy Rkatsiteli and would like to try the Georgian version. Sada also imports wines made with Mtsvane, a white grape with apple and citrus flavors. In addition they sell a Saperavi made with grapes from Mukuzani. There the wine is aged for three years in oak, giving a nice robust flavor.

The vote counting in Georgia is finally over and we have a winner: Saperavi from Sun Wine!

Full disclosure: This wine was received as a marketing sample.

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