Category Archives: Rkatsiteli

Badagoni Pirosmani White 2014

I don’t know why but there’s a fever among the expat population in Istanbul for all things Georgian. Both Pop-Up Istanbul and Popist Supper Club have held Georgian nights. I served as the tamada at the latter (but that’s a different story). I, like several friends, have two kilos of khinkhali in my freezer. And we’re mad for Georgian wine (although really who can blame us?). So when my friend K came home from London with a couple bottles of wine from Badagoni I was thrilled to share the Pirosmani White with her.

Badagoni is a fairly new winery in Georgia all things considered. While established in only 2002 it has quickly become one of Georgia’s largest wine producers. With help and support from well-respected enologist Donato Lanati, Badagoni wines have won awards both domestically and abroad.

Located in the Zemo Khodasheni village in Kakheti, the most famous of Georgian wine  regions, Badagoni produces wine in both the traditional Georgian and European styles. Their product line up is extensive. If you have time to visit Kakheti you can book a tour at Badagoni. However if you’re just breezing through Tbilisi their wines are widely available. I believe there’s even a Badagoni office/shop on Freedom Square.

Pirosmani White

Badagoni Pirosmani White 2014 Tasting Notes:

Named after arguably one of the greatest Georgian artists, Niko Pirosmani, the Pirosmani White (there’s also a red) is a semi-dry wine. It is a blend of Rkatsiteli, Kakhetian Mtsvane, and Kisi. In the glass it’s almost perfectly clear with barely a hint of discernible color. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was expecting from this wine. It was not however this lovely, light and delicate but still flavorful wine. Which despite its delicacy was still a rather surprising 12% abv.

The nose here was full of vanilla, cream, and white peaches. These were reflected on the palate with the addition of tropical/mango flavors. As a semi-dry wine K and I agreed that it was best served quite cold (around 5C) but the presence of strong acidic backbone kept the wine from sliding too far into the sweet category.

I would definitely go back to this one and can only hope to lay my hands on more wines from Badgoni in the future!

Georgian Wine Tasting in Istanbul

Georgian wine has been gaining in popularity for several years now. Not even Istanbul can resist the charms of neighboring Georgia’s wine and cuisine. While we don’t get a huge variety of Georgian wine here we at least have a steady supply.

While the wine tastings I lead are usually Turkish wine-focused, several months ago we shelved the Turkish wine in favor of some of the Georgian wines available here. Apparently not even sharing a border with a country makes it easier to import alcohol. The selection here is limited to a few basic table wines from a couple of Georgia’s large, commercial producers; particularly Chateau Mukhrani and Telavi Wine Cellar.

Georgian wine

Chateau Mukrani is one of the largest wineries in Georgia. The winery was originally established towards the end of the nineteenth century by Prince Ivane Mukhranbatoni on the family’s Mukhrani estate. By 1896 winery production peaked with twelve wines and international awards and popularity. Unfortunately the chateau and vineyards suffered during the twentieth century. In 2002 an investment group formed to restore the chateau to its former glory. By 2007 they were producing wines from newly invigorated vineyards in the eastern Georgian village of Mukhrani.

In the middle of Alazani Valley, lies Kakheti’s largest city, Telavi. It is just outside the city where, in 1915, Telavi Wine Cellar was founded. Telavi Wien Cellar belnds innovation with a sense of history, keeping faithful to the noble traditions of Kakhetian winemaking, while adapting to modern methods to produce wines that would please the most refined, and discerning global palate.

Georgian food

Of course no Georgian wine tasting would be complete without some traditional Georgian food. I made several dishes including both Imeretian and Megruli khachapuri, a chicken salad, and my favorite Georgian starter: eggplant rolls with garlic walnut paste.

And now, the wines!

Chateau Mukhrani Goruli Mtsvane

Chateau Mukhrani Goruli Mtsvane 2014 Tasting Notes:

There are some dozen different grapes with the word Mtsvane in their names because in Georgian, Mtsvane just means “green.”  Many grapes are called Mtsvane Something, and typically the Something part of the name has to do with where the grape is from (or thought to be from).  Mtsvane Goruli (or Goruli Mtsvane) means “green from Gori,” which is a town in the Kartli region in the Caucasus mountains of south-central Georgia.  This and Mtsvane Kakhuri, which means “green from Kakheti” are the two most common varieties found.

We tasted the Chateau Mukhrani Goruli Mtsvane. Bright and fruity with white and yellow plums and citrus on the nose, the sur lie ageing add some depth of flavor while keeping the wine’s freshness and easy to drink nature.

Chateau Mukhrani Rkatsiteli

Chateau Mukhrani Rkatsiteli 2014 Tasting Notes:

Rkatsiteli is probably the most common white wine grape variety in Georgia; particularly in Kakheti. It is used to make everything from table wine to European-style wines, qvevri amber wines, and even fortified wines.

Like the Goruli Mtsvane above, the Chateau Mukhrani Rkatsiteli was also aged sur lie. Flavors of yellow and white plums, white mulberry, and citrus are highlighted by refreshing acidity. A warm finish hints at both the sur lie ageing and the depth of character of which this grape is capable.

Kondoli Rkatsiteli

Telavi Wine Cellar Kondoli Rkatsiteli 2011 Tasting Notes:

This Rkatsiteli from Telavi Wine Cellar was much more complex than the young and fresh version by Chateau Mukhrani. The wine was aged 70% in French barriques (35% new oak, 35% old oak) and 30% in stainless steel.  Fruity and aromatic, the nose is warm with the scents of apricots, white peach, melon, and toasted nut. Minerality balances the fruit on the palate keeping them fresh instead of saccharine and hints of hazelnuts and slight buttery finish from the oak give this Rkatsiteli some very interesting layers.

Telavuri Saperavi

Telavi Wine Cellar Telavuri Red Tasting Notes:

Unlike the other wines from the tasting, this wine from Telavi Wine Cellar is a non vintage blend from the winery’s Kakheti vineyards. Part of the winery’s table wine line, this dry red is a Saperavi-lead blend of local Georgian grape varieties. While not particularly complex its fruity aromas (largely black fruits like blackcurrants) and velvety texture make it perfectly quaffable.

Chateau Mukhrani Saperavi

Chateau Mukhrani Saperavi 2012 Tasting Notes:

The final wine of our tasting was the Chateau Mukhrani Saperavi 2012. More complex than the non vintage from Telavi Wine Celler, this Saperavi was aged 20% in French, American and Caucasian oak barrels after undergoing malolactic fermentation. A beguiling bouquet of black mulberry, blackberry and cherry tempt you to explore further while light florals, balsamic, and echoes of soft oak on the palate complete this wine’s seduction.