A western Georgian variety, Chkhaveri is mostly planted near the Black Sea coast in Ajara and especially in Guria, but also in Imereti. Chkhaveri was originally a maghlari wine – a vine trained to grow up trees. This pinkish-violet variety is rather sensitive to site and its methods of cultivation. Alcohol levels are always moderate. Regardless of whether they are still or sparkling, dry or semi-sweet, Chkhaveri wines are vibrant pink, fresh flavours of red berries, cherries, forest fruit and baking spices. The naturally semi-sweet roses, produced anaerobically in tank and intended for early consumption are delightful and refreshing. Produced as a light red in Qvevri, the fruits are more subdued but the spiciness offers lift and complexity.
Ivane Javakhishvili, an early 20th century historian, argued that Chinuri’s name derives from the old Georgian word chini (reddish-green), but commentators now contend it comes from the Georgian word chinebuli meaning ‘excellent/the best’ – in this instance referring to the grapes superb appearance, colour, and flavour.
Orginating in Kaktli, but also grown in Kakheti, Chinuri, with its naturally high avidity, is most famous for the sparkling PDO Atenuri wine. Harvested a week o two later, Chinuri also is made as a still wine, with moderate alcohol levels and crisp acidity, whether fermented in Qvevri or tank. Chinuri has floral and herbal aromas, including hints of mint, pear and other yellow fruits. Chinuri from Qvevri is tannic and muskier, with flavours of dried pears and apricots laced with a slightly more concentrated herbal complexity. The grapes alone also grace many tables in season.