Saperavi, An Ancient Grape That Thrives On America’s East Coast
Do you know about the origins of Saperavi? Saperavi is actually the Georgian word for “dye.” The grape is grown throughout the Caucasus — the area between the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea — where winemaking began at least 6,000 years ago. The region has a moderate climate and is believed to be the original home of vinifera, the species of grape that includes classic European varieties like Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, and Chardonnay.
Hardy and late-ripening, Saperavi thrives in the cooler, moist climates of eastern Europe, so it’s no surprise that Mid Atlantic winemakers see its potential. Because of the grape’s beautiful, intense color and strong acidity, Saperavi has often been used to bring pop to red blends. These days, it’s developing a reputation of its own in single-varietal wines.
The wine made from Saperavi grapes being grown in the eastern United States has been a secret shared by a small but growing group of wine lovers. It isn’t a secret anymore as Saperavi plantings have aggressively expanded throughout the Upper East and Mid Atlantic Coast. As a varietal or in any of its unique blends Saperavi is gaining fans and increasing its vineyard acreage as forward-thinking winemakers join a movement to explore the possibilities this ancient grape from the “Far side of the world” has to offer.
Although Saperavi can be made into rosé, semi-sweet, sweet, and fortified wines, Linganore Winecellars has chosen a more traditional style, a full-bodied dry red with big-time acidity and robust tannins. When you’re sipping an inky Saperavi, look for flavors of dark fruits, cherry, blackberry, plum, spice, smoke, leather, and licorice. If aged in oak, cedar and vanilla also join the party.
A well-made, dry Saperavi wine is redolent of a Syrah. A well-made Saperavi wine can also express an astonishing amount of energy in the mouth and the potential for aging. It will compel you to find that moment, that person, and that dish with the same amount of intensity to match the wine.
Find out more about how the history of this robust grape, and how it’s spreading throughout the Mid Atlantic region: https://www.washingtonpost.com/food/2022/04/28/saperavi-wine-grapes-growing-america/
Linganore Winecellars began planting Saperavi in part of 2016 and is still the only winery in Maryland to produce this quality wine. As this vinifera grape takes up three full years to mature, our first vintage was the 2020 Saperavi, which won a Double Gold Award and Best in Class at the Maryland Governor’s Cup.
Linganore Winecellars began planting Saperavi in part of 2016 and is still the only winery in Maryland to produce this quality wine, and only 5 in the country. As this vinifera grape takes up three full years to mature, our first vintage was the 2020 Saperavi, which won a Double Gold Award and Best in Class at the Maryland Governor’s Cup. Linganore’s Saperavi is Estate Bottled and aged in French oak, which imparts subtle vanilla and spice notes. It is medium-bodied, rich in aromas of the darkest blueberries, with vibrant blackberries and spice on the palate.
Eric Aellen, our Vineyard Manager, and 2nd Generation family member was introduced to the grape by our nursery manager. Once introduced, it piqued his interest, and he decided to try it here on our property, as our property is similar to that of Georgia, where the vines originated from. We are excited to plant this new, more disease-resistant bread, that has some vinifera qualities, has a lovely body, and has nice tannins, and we are pleasantly surprised at the results. Eric says that it’s one of the easier vinifera varieties to manage in relation to crop load and disease management, with typical yields up to 4 tons per acre. Next time you are at Linganore, give it a try, or if this article has piqued your interest, you can always purchase it in our online store
To purchase Saperavi, visit here