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For my third new wine I am heading to Georgia (the country – not the state!). Just before the holidays I had the opportunity to try the delicious sparkling wines of Bagrationi. Lots of unknowns here, except that I remembered from my studies over the years that Georgia had a long and prestigious history of sparkling wines. In fact as the people I met from Bagrationi explained to me, archeological finds show that winemaking in Georgia can be traced back 7000 years, which is even further than in Greece.
Georgia has a lot of very old indigenous grape varieties. The ones used to produce these sparkling wines are the white varieties Chinebuli, Mtsvane and Tsitka (I know, a mouthful to pronounce). I was intrigued by these varieties and keen to understand what each variety brought to the final blend. My hosts explained that Chinebuli gives body, acidity and fruit intensity. It is also highly prized for sparkling wine production. Mtsvane adds complexity, especially in the aromas. Finally, Tsitka adds freshness, acidity and citrus flavor.
When we think of Georgia, one might be inclined to think that the climate would be too cold for growing grapes. However, Georgia is actually fairly south, on the Black Sea, whose influence moderates the winter cold. It is also on the same latitude as the well-known wine regions of southern France, northern Italy and northern California.
I tasted all four of Bagrationi’s sparkling wines and was extremely delighted with how they tasted. The mousse and bubbles were tiny and persistent in all four. Having only recently entered the US market the wines are not yet very available across the country. At the moment they are available online from Barclay’s Wine.
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