Our rare varieties exploration through some of the indigenous varieties of Georgia continues with Shavkapito. If you enjoy the more common Georgian variety Saperavi, then you’ll likely love Georgia’s rare Shavkapito grape. Comparatively, Shavkapito is a lighter, more subtle version of Saperavi. Moreover, The Wines of Georgia book says Shavkapito has the potential to be “concentrated, firm and linear, muscular but not a body-builder.”
During the 19th century, Shavkapito was one of the most prominently planted varieties throughout Georgia. However, by 2004 only ten hectares remained in Racha-Lechkumi, Kakheti, and Shida Kartli. Shavkapito is most prevalent in Shida Kartli, as this is a subzone of the variety’s native region of Kartli. Luckily, Chateau Mukhrani, a prominent Georgian producer, and numerous other growers in Kartli increased plantings of Shavkapito in recent years.
Shavkapito in the Vineyard
Shavkapito is a variety with medium-sized, usually winged, conical bunches of moderate density. Its berries are medium-sized and have a distinctly dark blue color. Notably, Shavkapito has a shorter growing season than most other red varieties. Bud break occurs during the second half of April and the grapes are ready for harvest by the beginning of September.
Typically, Shavkapito starts flowering early. This means that the variety runs the risk of millerandage, which is when grape berries of different sizes develop within the same bunch. Uneven berry size development means that the grapes within one cluster will ripen at varying rates. Thus, making an optimal harvest all the more difficult to achieve.
As a terroir-driven variety, vineyard location dramatically influences the flavor profile and structure of Shavkapito wines. Shavkapito planted to lower elevations and on flatter vineyards (i.e. valley floors) tends to produce more intense, full-bodied wines. When planted on slopes at higher elevations, Shavkapito delivers wines that are light and fresh with delicate aromas, high acidity, and vibrant fruit characteristics.
In The Glass
Shavkapito makes red, rosé, and sparkling wines, using both traditional Georgian winemaking methods and European techniques. You can expect a ruby red color in the glass with red fruit aromas, like cherry, pomegranate, and berries, herbal notes, and sometimes even just a hint of smoke.
Climate & Soil of Kartli
Kartli, Shavkapito’s foremost cultivation zone, has a continental, moderately warm and humid climate, but some areas of the region are quite dry. Shida Kartli, where Shavkapito is most concentrated within Kartli, offers an extremely diverse landscape. Therefore, there is plenty of soil variety in this subzone.
The two main types of soil you’ll find here are lami and black soil. Lami, or meadow-cinnamonic, soil was first described in Georgia. This soil offers powerful depth, an alkaline reaction, low humus content, and a loamy texture. Black chernozem soil is another prominent soil type of the region. The black soil is quite fertile with a higher humus content, loam or clay texture, and a base saturation.
Kartli lies within the Eastern Georgia Iveria Intermountain Plain. The Shida Kartli zone sits both in the plains and foothills of this zone. So, you can find valley floor and mountainous expressions of Shavkapito here.
Founded in 2018 by Goga Tevzadze, Tevza Winery is located in the mountainous area of Mtskheta. Goga’s micro-winery is at his home property in the village of Saguramo, where he produces wine using solely traditional Georgian techniques in his qvevri cellar. Tevza Winery only works with varieties native to the Kartli region, including Chinuri, Goruli Mtsvane, and Shavkapito.
Goga Tevzadze is associated with the National Wine Agency in Georgia and has worked in the wine industry for many years. Prior to working in wine, Goga had his own distillery producing Georgian fruit brandies and founded the Artisan Distillers Movement in Georgia. Today, he focuses on producing lively, vibrant, natural wines from varieties native to his home region on a mission to share Kartli’s wine traditions with the world.
Tevza, Kartli Red Qvevri Crazy Alive, Shavkapito 2018
- Spontaneous fermentation in 900 – 1,300L qvevri
- 3-4 weeks maceration on the skins
- Stabilized in qvevri post-maceration until the spring, then bottled
- Medium intensity ruby red color with brick hues
- Medium-plus intensity aromas of grilled black plum, wild brambly blackberry, fresh juicy cherry, and a hint of delicate spices
- Medium bodied, medium-plus acidity, medium-minus tannin, concentrated flavors of fresh cherries and grilled black plum on the palate
- Persistent finish with flavors pleasantly lingering after each sip
Shavkapito is an ideal to pair with stewed meat dishes, hard cheeses, nutty mushrooms, and vegetable dishes with fresh herbs. These Georgian eggplant rolls stuffed with goat cheese and walnuts, then topped with pomegranate seeds and a yogurt or tahini sauce are an ideal pairing for Shavkapito. This herby barley salad with butter basted mushrooms would make another excellent vegetarian pairing option. As would chanterelle mushroom risotto or chicken with chanterelle mushroom cream sauce. A beef stew with parmesan polenta or a chili con carne are also fantastic pairings for Shavkapito.