by Zoltan Szabo

I recently had the opportunity to taste some good to very good wines from Georgia, a country that is considered the ‘cradle of wine’, given that there was wine production taking place as far back as 8,000 (!) years ago. This statement is backed by archeological finds in the Southern Caucasus. Grapevines were cultivated and neolithic wine production took place way before the Roman, Persian, Greek empires and the Great Pyramid of Giza…

The Georgian wines I write about below are available via consignment from Georgian Wine Online, who hopes to be able to offer them in the LCBO soon. I conducted a blind tasting for some of the regulars at my local gastropub, The Monk’s Table. Of the four wines below, the  Chelti Saperavi had emerged as the crowd’s favourite out of a lineup of nine wines from all over the world, some really good…

2008 Saperavi Nikolashvili, Kakheti, Georgia
(Comes from Gurjaani village, located in an area called Tsiflebi, on the right side of the Alazani river in the Kakheti region.) Roasted plums, chocolate and earth – dried leaf notes. Medium bodied with soft tannins. Drinking well now and makes a good accompaniment to rustic, ethnic dishes. This winery is Georgia’s first organic producer. ($14 + HST,

2007 Saperavi Chelti, Kakheti, Georgia
(Comes from the village of Shilda in the Kvareli district’s Kakheti region, located in the surroundings of the Chelti river.) Cassis, blueberry, plums, herbal and dried flowers – forest floor. Good freshness of fruit here with silky tannins. Comes across as a Cabernet Sauvignon-based red Bordeaux from a ripe vintage. Very appealing, perhaps the best Saperavi I have tasted recently. Perfect with herb – roasted lamb. Producer company’s official name is I.P. Giorgi Mirianashvili. ($15 + HST,

2008 Saperavi Qvevri, Kakheti, Georgia
(This wine is by Chelti Vineyards in the village of Shilda in Kvareli district’s Kakheti region, micro-area had been reputed in the past by producing high quality wines. Chelti grows nothing but Saperavi, over 50 hectares of vineyards.) Earth, spice, distinctly Old World. Apparently the traditional amphorae vats are in use to make this red, fermentation and aging happens in these old vessels, dug into the earth with the openings at ground level. Try with grilled vegetables, or mild sausages, lighter BBQ fair. ($22 + HST,

2008 Khvanchkara Rachuli, Racha, Georgia
These grapes are cultivated on the slopes over the Rioni canyon in the Racha region. This is a naturally sweet red wine,  infamously favoured by Stalin. It’s an esoteric, original and unusual desert wine made from indigenous grape varieties hard to pronouce: Alexandrouli and Mudzhuretuli. Medium sweet with good acidity and bramble fruit flavour, worth trying with a freshly baked blueberry pie. ($17 + HST,

All scores are out of five apples.

Read more of sommelier Zoltan Szabo at and follow him at