In the small village of Chardakhi, Iago Bitarishvilli has two hectares of organically planted Chinuri vines that are now more than 50 years old.
Here, in the northern region of Mtskheta-Mtianeti, there are few commercial wine producers with much of the area too high in altitude for decent viticulture. Yet Chinuri, a high acid white variety seems to thrive here.
Iago is one of a host of small, quality focussed producers in Georgia’s natural wine making scene to gain international exposure for interesting qvevri matured wines. He produces around 5000 bottles a year. Waiting until the fruit is fully ripe, fermentation takes place in clay qvevri using full bunches along with their stalks, a method that liberates him from the need to filter, or indeed add sulphur.
His expression of Chinuri, often referred to simply as Iago’s Wine, boasts captivating musky aromas of earth and bruised apple, while in the mouth it is tannic and rustic, alive with electrically succulent yellow fruit and singing with lively, enticing acidity.