Georgia is gaining more and more mainstream coverage as the birth place of wine (take the recent Grand Tour extravaganza!) and is the reason Turton Wines was established a decade ago after our founder fell in love with the country's offerings. Following up his desire to bring unusual and long-forgotten wines back to UK wine lovers, our team has grown to become the leading merchant of Georgian wines in the UK.
Georgia is now thought by archaeologists to have been the very first country in the world to discover how wild grape juice could be turned into wine when it was left buried throughout the winter in a shallow pit. Carbon-dating of grape-pips has shown that they were making wine as long ago as 7000 BC - a tradition which has continued unbroken ever since. There are many traditional family vineyards across the country, with farmers still storing wine in giant cone-shaped clay jars buried in the earth called Qvevri, as they did 4000 years ago. Some linguists even believe the word ‘wine’ itself comes from the Georgian word ‘gvino’.
Saperavi is the most popular red grape used in Georgia due to its ability to create a diverse range of wines. This is not only down to the grape, but the history of expertise, careful viticulture, range of terroir and depth of detail in winemaking.
With its name literally translated to 'dye', it is a teinturier grape known for staining the hands pink when pulped, rather than producing clear juice like most other red grapes. Native to Georgia, Saperavi has been cultivated since 1886 and produces deep coloured wines that are suitable for long ageing. With a complex yet balanced bouquet and pleasant astringency, it has typical flavours of juicy dark berry fruits, chocolate and tobacco with liquorice and spicy notes and a velvety texture.
For sweet examples, try Tbilvino Alazani Valley with its aromas of cherry pie filling, redcurrants and crushed raspberries leading into cranberry and pink grapefruit flavours on the palate.
Semi-sweet examples include Telavi Marani Kindzmarauli, regarded as one of Georgia's top appellations for wines with natural residual sweetness. Off-dry Saperavi's include Telavi Marani Mukuzani, aged in oak barriques for 10-12 months with black cherry, dark chocolate, damson, vanilla and spice; or Tbilvino Mukuzanishowing rich damson and black cherry fruit with a smoky undertone and mellow tannins.
For a dry, full-bodied character, try Telavi Marani Napareuli with a bouquet of strawberry and spice and a subtle hint of vanilla; or the classic Tbilvino Saperavi with characters of cassis and liquorice, along with good acidity and tannins; Koncho & Co. Kvareli with aromas of blackberry and cherry, a light touch of vanilla and oak; or the elegant and aromatic Kondoli with black fruit and vanilla aromas and a long and spicy finish; or Satrapezo with vanilla, oak and concentrated forest berries complemented by ripe, silky oak tannins.
This indigenous, less commonly found red grape is known as the “vine of Alexander". A hardy, low-yielding grape, that thrives in the Caucasus mountains in Western Georgia, it is famous for its use in the distinctive, naturally semi-sweet Khvanchkara alongside the Mujuretuli grape. It typically shows red berries, cherries and mulberries, but when produced dry, can also bring complex notes of tobacco and pepper, ageing considerably well in the bottle for many years.
Try Telavi Marani Kvanchkara semi-sweet blend with its mellow blend of dried fruit, pomegranate and a touch of caramel; or Koncho & Co Aleksandrouli dry varietal which is succulent and smooth with ripe black cherries, raspberries and notes of black pepper.
The Rkatsiteli grape is the most popular white grape in Georgia and used to create an extensive range of wines. It is ancient and thought to have been cultivated there for several millennia, now one of the most popular varieties across Eastern Europe. Wines produced are typically full flavoured and refreshingly acidic, with crisp green-apple flavors and hints of quince and white peach.
For a semi-sweet / off-dry example, try Telavi Marani Alazani Valley fresh, fruity and harmonious, full of melon and quince. Dry examples include Khareba Tsitska with a spectrum of aromas from mountain flowers to citrus, or green fruit to tropical fruit, all locked in with complex spice on the nose; or fresh and zesty Tbilvino varietal with lemon, honey and notes of of crunchy apple; Mosmieri Tsinandali with aromas of light lemon, honey scents, peach and grapefruit whilst showing balanced acidity and sophisticated lightness; and finally creamy Telavi Marani Tsinandali with toasted nut from French oaking - crisp and fresh with hints of melon and fruit salad.
The Rkatsiteli grape is also used in a lot of orange wines, where grape maceration in contact with skins and sometimes stalks develops a hugely complex wine. The traditional Georgian method is to mature the wines in clay pots (Qvevris) stored deep underground. Try Tbilvino Qvevris fermented in qvevris for several months to bring a deep and rich bouquet of pine, pear and quince and full flavours of apple and stewed fruit.
This old and rare Georgian white grape variety is currently only grown on a 0.5 acre area in the Kvareli region, on a vineyard rich in black slate soil. This variety was only rediscovered 10 years ago and winemakers are working to find its full potential in wines.
Typically producing light bodied wines that are full of character and unique aromas, our Koncho & Co varietal has an inviting nose of apple blossom, honeysuckle, acacia and walnut falling on to the palate with additional notes of poached pear and honey, wonderful minerality and a lingering crisp finish.
This low yielding grape from the Kakheti region guarantees concentrated flavour and is thought to be a hybrid of Rkatsiteli and Mtsvane - two grapes commonly blended together for Georgian white wines. Typical aromas include ripe pear, lemon, walnuts and even tropical fruit and smoke.
Tbilvino Special Reserve uses hand-picked grapes carefully selected for flavour intensity, balance, richness and crispness of fresh fruit acids. Golden yellow with pronounced citrus and tropical fruit aromas alongside hints of nuts and tobacco creating a lovely, velvety and harmonious taste.