Marani Kondoli Saperavi-Merlot 2010
A Eurasian country bordered by Russia to its north, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan to its south and the Black Sea along its western border, The Country of Georgia is one of the world’s oldest winemaking countries. Archaeological evidence in the Caucasas region (the area covered by the countries listed above, where the European and Asian continents merge) shows wine production dating back 6,000 to 8,000 years ago but exactly which country can lay claim to the birthplace of winemaking remains undetermined.
Though some modern movements have been made, Georgia remains committed to ancient winemaking techniques, namely the use of qvevri, or clay vessels for fermentation and storage of both its red and white wines. Like ampohorae, these are typically buried underground or set into the floor of a cellar in an effort to regulate temperature. Saperavi, one of the few red-fleshed, dark-skinned varieties, produces an intense red wine. Rkatsiteli, Georgia’s key pale-skinned variety, is popular for its versatility. It is capable of producing wines of various styles from fresh, dry whites and complex, amber-colored skin-contact wine, to sparkling, sweet and fortified wines.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.