New in America:
Georgian Sparkling Wine from Bagrationi

Mike Potashnik Bagrationi 1882 is the best known of Georgian (country, not the state) sparkling wine makers. It used to be that Russia imported a lot of it. But that nasty little war last summer put an end to Russian imports from Georgia, and Bagrationi is now aggressively developing new markets, including the US beginning this year. That’s all to the benefit of the US consumer, who now has the opportunity to taste what most Russians would still like to be drinking.

Georgian Prince Ivane Bagrationi-Mukhraneli began producing sparkling wine in Georgia in 1882 using the méthode Champenoise. Bagrationi is an historic dynasty which ruled the Georgian kingdoms until Russian annexation in the early 19th century. However, Georgian wine-making goes back a long way, eight thousand years by some accounts, and it’s believed the modern word for wine stems from the Georgian word for wine, gvhino.

Bagrationi sparkling wine is made from indigenous grapes—Tsitska, Chinuri, Goruli Mtsvane, Mtsvane Kakhuri and Saperavi—from the best winegrowing regions of Georgia—Kartli, Imereti, and Kakheti. Bagrationi’s tête de cuvée—the 2007 Royal Cuvée—is made from grapes grown in the Kartli region in the Mtkvari River gorge.

The non-vintage Bagrationi sparklers compete very well in flavor and style with Spanish Cava and Italian Prosecco. The vintage wines are more complex and layered and compare favorably with their New World counterparts. In general, these wines are very well made and clean tasting, with medium complexity and a pleasantly dry finish.

Detailed tasting notes on these sparklers follow. For more on sparkling wines generally, consult the i-WineReview Report #14: The World of Sparkling Wines and Champagne.

Bagrationi NV Classic Brut ($14) 87

This is a very clean sparkling wine made from Chinebuli, Tsitska, and Mtsvane grapes using the méthode Charmat. Lightly aromatic, it has fine bubbles. It is very clean and crisp on the palate, with light green apple flavors. It is light in style, Prosecco-like, and dry, even on the finish.

Bagrationi NV Extra Dry ($14) 87

This is a fairly simple sparkler that despite its name is really quite dry. There are light citrus scents, a creamy mousse, and a slightly off-dry palate with light citrus flavors. It finishes clean and dry. Would make a good, and unique, wedding reception sparkler.

Bagrationi 2007 Reserve Brut ($26) 89

The pale yellow straw 2007 Reserve Brut is an excellent sparkling wine with a light floral nose, made using the méthode Champenoise. It has a nice rich palate, a creamy mouth-feel and good depth of ripe pear and stone fruit flavors. The finish is exceptionally strong with persistent flavors, a crisp dryness, and leesy notes. Made from a blend of Chinuri, Tsitska, Kakhuri, and Mitsvane grapes from diverse regions.

Bagrationi 2007 Royal Cuvee ($38) 90

The Royal Cuvee is an elegant wine with a delicate nose and refined mousse, an expressive palate, and excellent acidity and balance. Made from old vine Chinuri grapes in the Kartli region, it shows a delicate nose of white flowers and ripe apple and a very creamy attack of ripe pear and apple with a hint of almond. It finishes crisp and long with persistent richness.

Don Winkler, Editor - August 2009