Saperavi is a black grape from Georgia, grown in several countries around the Black Sea.
It is a teinturier variety, and the name Saperavi (“საღებავი”) actually translates into English as “paint” (noun), or “dye”. The variety is popular for several reasons. It is a cold resistant, high acidity, high tannins, and lots of colour, characteristics which makes it good for producing varietal wines as well as “save” less robust varieties – especially in hot summers – by becoming a blending partner.
Aromas and flavours are red berries, plums and cherries, but also spiciness with hints of white pepper and juniper.
There are four types of wine to look for.
- Considered to be the best wine made from this grape, Mukuzani is a dry varietal that is aged for three years. It is produced in the Mukuzani region.
- Saperavi is the name of a semi-sweet to dry wine, aged for 1 year. This is produced in several regions.
- Kindzmarauli is a semi-sweet wine made from a kind of late harvested grapes. It is produced in the region Kvareli and is aged for two years. When produced in the Gurdzhaani region the same kind of wine is called Akhasheni.
Wines made from the Saperavi grape are known for their good ageing capability. We are talking about thirty to forty years. There are wines known for having been more than fifty years in bottle and still being of good quality. Still they are drinkable also when young.
The excellent pairing with a dry varietal is the traditional Georgian dish, Mtsvadi, grilled skewers with pork or lamb. It will also pair very well wild game or aged cheese. The wine is best served at 16-18°C/61-64°F.
If you instead are enjoying a semi-sweet Saperavi wine, try it with fruit, sweets, or strongly flavoured cheeses.
Where is it grown?
Saperavi is not a widely-spread grape, but in the area where it is grown, e.g. in the countries around the Black Sea, it has a fairly high penetration.
- Georgia 4.751 ha/11,741, MPG 3, PTPA 10%
- Ukraine 1.514 ha/3,741 ac, MPG 10, PTPA 3%
- Russia 716 ha/1,769 ac, MPG 10, PTPA 3%
- Moldavia 716 ha/1,769 ac, MPG 15, PTPA 1%
- Kazakhstan 428 ha/1,057 ac, MPG 4, PTPA 6%
Saperavi is a very old variety that is thought to have originated in south-western Georgia.