NV Vachnadziani, Saperavi, Kakheti, Georgia
£9.59, Fintry Wines, 01206-366599, fintrywines.co.uk
This is a world first for me. Not only is this my first Georgian wine write-up in 700 columns in this esteemed publication, but it is also the first Georgian wine I have ever recommended in my 33 years in the wine trade. And what a way to kick off my appreciation of the intriguing vinous creations from this so-called “cradle of wine”. Indigenous rkatsiteli grapes’ seeds have been found in 8,000-year-old clay vessels in Georgia, so this country has had some practice at the wine game.
Vachnadziani was established in 1953 and it is one of the oldest commercial wineries in Georgia. Considerable investment has been ploughed into this estate, after years of neglect under Soviet rule, to bring it up to pace with today’s fast-paced wine world. With more than 1,000 hectares of vineyards planted and a large array of indigenous varieties in the portfolio, too, Vachnadziani has set itself up to champion ancient Georgia and embrace modernity.
Saperavi is a “teinturier” grape – one of only a handful of red grapes whose flesh is pink, not clear. Accordingly, this is a particularly fruit-packed wine. This superb red is unoaked, nicely weighted at only 13% alcohol and it is bright, clean and juicy. There is a decent twist of spice bringing detail to the plummy core. It is the warmest and most convivial welcome I can imagine for those of you new to Georgian wines.
Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition's Communicator of the Year (matthewjukes.com).