Dan's Blog


Friday, May 25, 2018

We are covering something a little bit different this week that shows how good Australian winemakers are.

On the 18th of May there was a special ceremony held in Canberra at the Embassy of Georgia. His Excellency Mr George Dolidze, The Ambassador of Georgia, presented awards to seven Australian wineries – all award winners in the inaugural Saperavi World Prize (SapPrize) contest. The contest was organised by Hvino News Georgia and was open to Saperavi producers around the world from outside of Georgia.

Saperavi is a native Georgian red grape variety that has the ability to produce sensationally deep coloured and deeply flavoured wines. Georgia has been producing wine for around 8,000 years and it is thought that Saperavi was one of the earliest varieties turned into wine.

The judging was held in Tbilisi (the capital of Georgia) late last year and the judging panel consisted of a number of Western European judges as well as some of Georgia’s leading wine personalities. Among the entries from around the world there were 14 Australian and one New Zealand entry, with seven of the Australian winning awards. That is a 50% success rate which is truly awesome.

At the ceremony, Ambassador Dolidze first spoke of his country’s incredibly long and unique winemaking history. Next, the awards were handed out and then guests had the opportunity to taste a variety of Georgian wines including some made in Qvevri (their ancient winemaking clay vessels which are used to produce the most natural wines in the world). For more information on Georgian wines please see my WBM, April 2014 article “Georgia Joy” and the WBM, March-April 2017 article “Saperavi the Sensational”.

The winner of the inaugural grand prize, “The Golden Azarpesha” (a traditional Georgian wine drinking cup) was Australia’s own, Cirami Estates 2015 Riverland Saperavi. The winner of the “The Silver Azarpesha” went to the McGregor Vineyard’s Black Russian Red 2010 from New York’s, Finger Lakes District.

The other Australian wineries to win medals were:

Alex Russell Wines – Alejandro Saperavi 2015 & 2016

Ballandean Estates – “Messing About” Granite Belt Saperavi 2015

Bassham Wines – Riverland Saperavi 2015

G Patritti & Co. – Barossa Saperavi 2014 & 2015

Gapsted Wines – Alpine Valley N/V Sparkling Saperavi & 2015 Saperavi

Hugh Hamilton Wines – McLaren Vale “Oddball the Great” Saperavi 2014

Ridgemill Estate – Granite Belt Saperavi 2014 & 2015

Symphony Hills Wines – Granite Belt Saperavi 2016

CIRAMI ESTATE is the wine sales arm of the Riverland Vine Improvement Committee (RVIC).The RVIC’s mission in life is to propagate cuttings and rootstocks for grape growers. Many years ago under the leadership of the affable David Nitschke, the RVIC started to propagate cuttings for some of the Emerging grape varieties. For example, in 2001 whilst at Thomson Fruitgrowers (Waikerie) I ordered Tannat cuttings from them at a time when almost nobody in Australia had heard of the variety Tannat. In more recent years the RVIC has been making small batches of wine from some of the varieties they propagate and selling them under the CIRAMI ESTATE label. If memory serves me right, the first CIRAMI ESTATE SAPERAVI was the 2010 vintage.

The newly released CIRAMI ESTATE 2017 RIVERLAND SAPERAVI is a worthy successor to the lauded and awarded CIRAMI ESTATE 2015 SAPERAVI. It has a massively deep colour with gorgeous aromas of citrus, spice and dark berries. On the palate it is big and rich with heaps of flavour. It is very smooth and has a tight, grippy finish which characteristic of the variety. It just needs some “mellowing out” time to become as lovely as the 2015 is now. OUTSTANDING!

So if you get a chance to try a Saperavi, be it from its native Georgia or an Aussie one (the Georgians like them!), grab it with both hands and enjoy. This fantastic big, bold, delicious variety will not disappoint you with its masses of flavour.

Mark my words, this is a variety that we will be seeing and drinking a lot more of in the future. ENJOY!