The Saperavi Grape
Saperavi is an intensely dark-coloured, pink-fleshed red grape variety, that is native to Georgia. The deep skin tone actually names the variety, with Saperavi literally meaning ‘dye’. It is different from a vast majority of wine grape in that it has red anthocyanin in its flesh too, while almost all other varieties have a clear flesh, with the colour of the wine wholly depending on the skin of the fruit. (Such grapes with pigmented flesh are referred to as teinturier.)
Wines made with this grape have a deep hue and marked high acidity.
Saperavi grape in Australia
As Shiraz grapes are popular in Australia, Saperavi is equally famous in Georgia. So far, it has been unknown to the Australian drinker. However, with Aussie winemakers embracing innovation, it’s now being introduced in the island nation. As of today, 14 out of 2,800 Australian wineries have planted this variety.
Cold-climate Saperavi vs. warm-climate Saperavi
The grape is known for its excellent ability to cope with very low temperatures, and hence, cool climate wines have been the norm. In Australia though, the grape has also been planted in the warm wine regions of Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale.
- While the world so far knew of cold climate Saperavi wines, which are leaner and more acidic, warm climate ones from Australia are a recent phenomenon. The warmer temperatures lead to more acid conversion into sugar.
- Cool-climate wines require much longer for the fruit to come to the fore, whereas warm-climate Saperavi wines are ready to drink much sooner.
- Regardless of the climate, all Saperavi wines have a deep, inky colour and flavoursome profile.
Australian Saperavi wines
Here is a list of some Saperavi wines from Australia.
- Cirami Estate 2015 – With grapes sourced from Riverland, the wine is light and smooth with plum, cinnamon, and bitter chocolate flavours. Warm climate has resulted in lesser acidity and riper fruit characters.
- Hugh Hamilton 'The Oddball' Saperavi 2014 – The grapes were sourced from McLaren Vale. The wine has the classic very deep colour of Saperavi, along with rhubarb aromas and flavours. It will soften over time.
- Patritti Wines 2007-2015 – Fruit was procured from Barossa Valley. The colour is very deep, with beetroot fragrances and very tight flavours. The 2011 vintage bagged a gold medal at the Royal Sydney Wine Show.
- Ridgemill 2014 The Csar Saperavi – This one is a cold-climate wine. The bouquet comprises of earthy beetroot aromas, while the flavour profile is very rich.