Whenever the time for a big celebration (supra) comes, Vazha Kasrelishvili has always been a source of wine for parties in Tbilisi. Later, when friends decided to venture for a joint winery and started to think the name up, there was no question of reluctance. It was called Casreli. Serving in the governmental medical facilities in Tbilisi, two out of five masterminds are constantly involved in executive management of the vineyards and the cellar.
The vineyards were planted two years before the cellar construction, so to give vines time to grow and deliver ripe grape clusters. These are dry farmed, though drop-irrigation is installed in the vineyard in case of future negative outcomes of the current climate change. Pruning is also thoughtful as Misha comments: “We leave two cordons with maximum three spurs per cordon for whites and two for Saperavi two. Limiting the yields we receive concentrated berries and quality wine.” Synthetic spray is kept handy to fight off fungal outbreaks, though has never been applied.
The marani was finished in 2017 and contains 27 qvevris, ranging from 450 to 2000 liters. Clay vessels are used both for fermentation and overwinter maturation. Gravitational clarification is conducted naturally over time and no additives are used. Medical knowledge helps out to sustain clean viticulture and winemaking. Thorough washing of stainless steel tanks, glass jars and qvevris is essential: “We use ultraviolet lamps to sanitize qvevri after washing. So far, none of our wine has ever been spoiled with bacterias or undesirable yeast strains.” The wines are bottled unfiltered with a dash of sulphur.
Located in the middle Mukuzani area, in the village of Vachandziani, eight hectares were planted with young vines, yet now produce wholesome berries. To have biodiversity in the vineyard, rosemarine, pomegranate and olive trees are planted next to the vines. Alfalfa and clover are moved to enrich the soil and weed control is limited to mulching. The topsoil is silty clay with gravel and rocks. Following wines are produced from this parcel’s grapes.
Tsangala is a co-fermenttion of two white varieties of Tetri Budeshuri and Chinuri. Light-bodied with honey notes and smoky flavours, the wine is versatile and fits in with light snacks. Four weeks of skin contact add to the complexity.
A classic blend of 70% Rkatsiteli and 30% Mtsvane stays in skin-contact for up to five months and delivers a little edgy, but structured wine. This will soften after a year and turn to a thrilling Kakhetian white with stone fruits aromas.
Erekle is named after the cuvée which was presumably used for wines served for ancient Georgian royal families. The blend consists of 35% of each Rkatsiteli and Kisi with remainder of 15% Khikhvi and 15% Mtsvane varieties. Flavours of almonds, apricots and walnuts linger over the palate. This is a very balanced wine with chewy tannins, and no wonder it has become a hit in the US in recent years.
In the vineyard, Khikhvi vine roots reach solid limestone two meters below the soil surface, which adds chalky mineral notes to the final wine. Vintage 2019 shows a restrained body with chalky tannins and a flavorful profile of ripe apricots and wild flowers. Renown white Kisi is varietally bottled and demonstrates discernible tannins with honey and distinctive floral nose.
Hailing from mountains of Western Georgia, Rachuli red varieties of Alexandrouli and Mujuretuli are co-planted with Chitistvala (“a bird’s eye”) in the second silty-rocky plot of Casreli in the Akhoebi zone at 650m altitude. “Rocky soil provides good drainage, and roots may grow deeper to find sufficient water supply. In my opinion, it expresses itself with a honey flavour in wine, ” Misha says. Rare to find in Georgia, red Dzaganidze Shavi and white Muscat varieties are also grown in minute amounts to enrich final wine blends.
Chitistvala is the blend with other Kakhetian whites. Co-fermented with Kisi and Rkatsiteli, aromatic-driven Chitistvala reveals floral, red apple and dried fruits nuances. Mtsvivani is a varietal wine, spent four months in qvevri with skins. With considerable tannins, distinctive Sauternes honey touch, box wood and citrus aromatics, this is a Georgian wine not to miss. Meanwhile, Misha and Vazha still experiment with approaches to different varieties and blends. Organoleptic consideration helps to decide on stem addition in Chitistvala and Mtsvivani during fermentation. Except the lightest Tsangala, all wines have at least four months maturation with skins.
Starting 2020 vintage, red wine range will be expanded from current classic cherry-scented Saperavi to three different labels. The second Saperavi, which still matures in qvevri, is marketed under Gujiauri. At this one hectare plot, the southwest exposure results in more concentrated, ripe grapes. And the last red is a compelling dry blend of Western Georgia grapes planted and tended in the Eastern region of Kakheti.
With only 1500 bottles produced in 2017, Misha projects a whopping tenfold increase by 2021. At present time, wine undr 10 labels are available for sale. With continuous reinvestment back into the estate and latest awards from the International Qvevri Wine Competition, Casreli winery becomes a notable producer not to be overlooked.
Locally: Tbilisi (8000 vintages (Saburtalo, Vake and Mtatsminda), Batumi (Batumi Entertainment Group).
Abroad: the USA (Black Lamb Wines), Switzerland (Bestofgeorgia.ch), the UK (Georgian Wine Society, Mephisto Wines), the Netherlands (Saperavi wine agency), Japan (Vins d'Olive).
At local fairs: New Wine Festival (Georgia, Tbilisi), Qvevri Wine International Competition (Georgia, Tbilisi).
Call Mikheil at: +995-577-119-101. Mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org