Chkhaveri is a native variety to the region of Guria in Georgia that mainly produces rosé wines. Though historically this variety has also made white, red, and sparkling wines in sweet and dry styles. Chkhaveri is truly a rare variety as only a handful of Georgian winemakers work with this grape today.
Chkhaveri berries are round, juicy, and thin skinned. While its clusters are small or conical, sometimes with a single wing. This late-ripening and low-yielding variety tends towards higher acidity. Chkhaveri produces balanced, soft wines with moderate alcohol levels and a varied diversity of aromas and flavors.
Chkhaveri Vine Training in Guria
Guria is a region in western Georgia that sits just off the coast of the Black Sea. The climate here is subtropical and humid due to the Black Sea’s influence. These warm temperatures are ideal for vine cultivation. However, the higher humidity of the region means that late-ripening varieties like Chkhaveri are more susceptible to fungal disease.
Traditionally, vines were trained in a system called maghlari to combat the high humidity. The vines grew up trees in this vine training method to keep them off the ground and improve air flow. Maghlari vine training is not common practice anymore. Though Chkhaveri is still trained high off of the ground. This variety also thrives best on south-facing slopes where there is lower humidity. Additionally, Chkhaveri likes limestone, sandstone, and clay soils.
Where Natural Wine Began
The Chkhaveri wine I’m sharing in this post is actually a natural wine. In fact, the majority of Georgian wines I’m featuring on Rare Varieties are natural wines. Today, many modern wine lovers might view the natural wine movement as a recent revolution or simply a fad. The truth is that the Georgians started the natural wine trend thousands of years ago. As the oldest winemaking country in the world, Georgians have debated the topic of natural wine ever since.
This natural wine philosophy was perhaps first championed by Prince Ilia Chavchavadze in the late 19th century. Many Georgians revered Chavchavadze as the “Father of the Nation.” A writer, politician, banker, publisher, and more, Chavchavadze led a revival of the Georgian natural wine movement. In 1887, he wrote a series of articles in response to critics of Georgian natural winemaking methods. These articles eventually became a book titled Georgian Winemaking. Chavchavadze, like many other Georgians, believed that natural winemaking methods are superior to European techniques.
“The true purpose of winemaking, its beginning and end, is to make wine naturally following the process by which nature itself transforms grape juice into wine.”Prince Ilia Chavchavadze
The Winery: Dato’s Wine
Dato Kobidze makes expressive natural wines using traditional Georgian qvevri with grapes from his family vineyard in Guria near the Black Sea. His wines often honor extremely rare Georgian varieties that are increasingly more difficult to come by.
Dato’s Wine Chkhaveri Rosé 2018
- Only 500 bottles produced
- Macerated on the skin for 18 days producing a very dark rosé
- Aromas of wild berries, fresh acidity and great texture from the skin contact