Tuesday, August 14, 2012

We recommend: Tbilvino Saperavi Red from Georgia

by Subhash Arora

14.08.2012. It is difficult to find interesting, unique and tasty wines in the sub-thousand rupee range in Retail. Saperavi Red wine from Tbilvino winery in Georgia is an ideal exception. The wine costing between Rs. 800-1000 [that's Indian Rupee - HN] is an award winning wine from a recognized Georgian producer and is ideal for kebabs and pizzas, meaty snacks and a few vegetarian foods as well.

While judging at the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Competition last November, I came across wines with grapes like Saparevi red and Mtsvane and Rkatsiteli white grapes. Most people in my panel of which I was the President had not tasted these varietals before. But the wines had enough personality and vivaciousness to win a few awards. That’s when I realized that Georgia makes some very good wines besides being the oldest wine producing region in the world.

At a dinner a few months ago,  where the Georgian Ambassador to India, Mr. Zurab Katchkatchishvili invited me to taste a couple of Georgian wines that included a Saperavi red and a Mtsvane/ Rkatsiteli white, we found ourselves finishing off the bottles among 5 of us before ordering another wine from the restaurant.

Out of a population of 4 million- perhaps I million households make wine, mostly in their backyard for their home consumption, says Praveen Bali who has lived in Georgia and is importing exclusively a few labels from there, through his firm Tabuni wines. The wine culture is at its peak in the world’s s oldest wine making region; it is as basic as the food he says. Tbilvino is one of the better and rather well-known producers acknowledged internationally. I loved the Saperavi sample he sent me for tasting.

At one of the wine tasting events of the Delhi Wine Club, I slipped in a bottle of Tbilvino Saperavi 2010 amongst about 20 different wines. I was more than surprised when the members loved it and kept on asking for more even after it had been polished off.

Saperavi is Georgia’s most widely grown red grape variety and is often blended with other grapes- much like Cabernet Sauvignon. Tbilvino Red is made from 100% Saperavi grapes. It’s is a dark cherry coloured wine packaged in a very dark bottle of an attractive, curvaceous shape- very clean with intense aromas of red fruits and cherries that carry into the flavours. There is hint of coffee, cinnamon and even liquorice. Tannins have a good grip and the acidity makes it very juicy. The rather persistent after-taste is quite impressive. The indigenous flavours have obviously found favour with the Indian palate as the several drinking at the DWC tasting endorsed.

A tasty choice with red- sauce pastas, pizzas, barbecues and tandoori  mutton kebabs or lamb chops and rogan josh.  Vegetarians will love it with mushroom and perhaps with baingan ka saalan, bharta  or aubergine Parmigiana.

With nothing much available at less than Rs. 1000 in the bouquet of imported wines, this wine brings a breath of fresh air. Tbilvino Saperavi is available in Delhi at Nature’s Basket and soon at Reliance Retails for Rs.940; Claridges Surajkund and Leela Delhi too. Also available in Mumbai and Goa.  In fact, as Praveen admits, it is rocking in Goa where a sizeable chunk of the population is Russians who have grown up drinking wines like Saperavi.  (Incidentally Russia banned the import of wines from Georgia and Moldova, the prime exporters after the break-up).

A delicious wine for the price one pays for it. It would cost more than twice if it were in a French bottle.


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