Tasting Georgian Bubblies: Bagrationi Wines

Oldest winemaking country, over 7000 years, Georgia, has been making wines from when France, Italy, and Spain were not even born on the world wine scene. It still has its own dominance in the winemaking history. However, it has got restricted to only the north-eastern European countries and Russia. With international grape varieties emerging as all-time favourites and marketing stunts taking over the smaller countries had to pay a price. However, not many would know that Georgia is the home to some stunning produces. Exploiting their numerous local varieties, many of them being a tongue-twister for us, it holds some excellent drops in its backpack. It takes some time to deconstruct their wine styles but once that peek is captured it’s an easy ride thereafter.

Bagrationi 1882 is the market leader and undoubtedly the most celebrated wine house in the Georgian sparkling wine class. The company has a surprisingly interesting history dating back to the 19th century. Champagnes, with their flair and imperative charm, were an international craze and Georgia started to follow it too. The Georgian Kings descendent Ivane Bagrationi – Mukhraneli introduced the art of producing of sparkling wines in the country. They made their bubblies the same way as the French made their Champagnes. The produce turned out well and soon spread internationally. They mastered the art soon and the wines were believed to be so well-made that it earned them the highest international accolade in winemaking, ‘Grand Prix d’Honneur’, at Vinexpo, 1882. To mark this year the company decided to include it in its brand name.

In 1937, Bagrationi 1882, now an independent company, was born and today they make various styles of sparkling wines. The most famous styles are their Royal Cuvee made from the local  Chinebuli grapes using Traditional Method of sparkling winemaking where secondary fermentation transpires in the bottle itself. Their Reserve Brut, Classic Brut, and Classic Extra Dry wines are a blend of Chinebuli, Mtsvane, and Tsitska grapes. While the Reserve Brut is also a Traditional Method produce the latter two are made in combination of tank and bottle, i.e. Charmat Method.  They also have the Classic range with red, rose, and white sparkling wines. These are the simple and easy-drinking style range and a good value-for-money proposition. We tasted the range and here’s our notes:

Bagrationi Classic Sparkling – White

Water pale colour with a young green tinge. Minerally aromas with vegetative notes dominates with chalk, and floral tones to follow. Fresh, semi-dry palate with grapey, fresh white fruits stewed and caramelised fruits, sweet unclarified apple juice, lemon, and tad grainy notes. Light bodied, fresh moderate acidity, low alcohol, clean aftertaste. A nice easy drinking style wine

Bagrationi Classic Sparkling – Rose

Softly macerated pink hue. Clean fresh aromas of red fruits, strawberries, and floral touches, ending with tad musty, and earthy notes. Creamy, off-dry palate with notes of modestly caramalised fruits, tad oxidative, raspberries, and cranberry juice, hint of sweet spices, and a velvety aftertaste. Refreshing acidity and light body makes it a great sipper.

Since the start of the times, Russia was the biggest importer of Georgina wines. 50% of Georgia’s alcoholic produce was consumed by Russia. Of this, 80% was Georgian sparkling wines. They had a tough time reviving since Russia banned Georgian imports in 2006. Still the house stand tall today as a strong producer with no drop in production.

Sparkling wines are a mark of celebration. It be the 21st birthday, marking the start of a new relationship, or just a happy house party. With such simple and value-oriented sparkling wines one may not wait for an occasion to pop a cork.  We await such wines to capture a spot on our local shelves soon and initiate a fashion of celebrating each day. To that, Saude!

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