And here they are! 2 Saperavi and 1 Rkatsiteli.
My good friend recently bought these home from Almaty, Kazakhstan. Almaty has long been on my list of places to visit but each time I have a trip, rostered, it’s taken off me. As such, with the latest disappointment, she bought me home 3 bottles of the local wine. Although I’m yet to try it, she has said that actually it’s pretty good and I’m prepared to go on her recommendation!!
So what do we know about Kazakh wine?
Really, not much in the UK!! It appears to have it’s origins in 7AD when grape vines were imported from China and Uzbekistan. Under the Soviet Union, a vast amount of wine was produced in the region, with a preference of sweeter styles of red. Generally inexpensive and mass produced though would be the best way to describe it. However, since the break up of the Soviet Union, a number of producers are starting to flourish across the country, and Arba wines is one such one of these. Based just outside Almaty in the Assa Valley, Arba wines took it’s founding from an abandoned Soviet Vineyard that had grown wild and disused over around 20 years of neglect (the claim is that due to poverty, nobody could afford to touch the vineyards or redevelop them!). Traditional grape varieties for the area come from the Georgian varieties of Rkatsiteli and Saperavi, but also, as a left over from the Soviet times, various off cuts of Riesling, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Cabernet France have also been allowed to grow.
The abandoned vineyards of Arba wines were finally able to produce the quality of fruit to be utilised for wine production and this is how this story has developed until this point. A number of the wines have won decent international recognition and I’m now keen to explore this element of the wine world further.
So what do I have?
1 Rkatsiteli Reserve from 2018
100% Rkatsiteli aged for 8 months in French Acacia barrels - normal price is around £16 a bottle.
1 Saperavi Reserve from 2015
100% Saperavi aged for 18 months in French Acacia barrels. The price paid was around £30 a bottle.
1 65% Saperavi 35% Syrah mix from 2018
The wild card of the group - more of an indicative, everday wine from Kazakhstan. Priced around £7 a bottle - but without the ageing process of the other 2.
I’d like to think that I have a good mix of wines from across the spectrum here from this producer - and hopefully, I’ll be able to pop out to Almaty with work soon and continue with this “vital” area of research.
In the meantime, I very much look forward to trying this bundle in due time and will post my tasting notes in here as and when I do so!
As an aside, I’m mildly amused that you can’t feed the Saperavi to Foxes. I was very worried there for a minute!!