Rkatsiteli, whose name means “red stem” (rka meaning vine cane; tsiteli meaning red) is the leading white grape variety in Georgia, comprising 43% of all vineyard plantings across 20000 hectares. It is native to Kakheti in eastern Georgia and is cultivated throughout the province, as well as in Kartli.
Rkatsiteli is produced through both traditional and European vinification methods, and is the principal grape in most Kakhetian white wines. Beacause Rkatsiteli has relatively quiet aromatics, it is often blended with 12-20% Mtsvane Kakhuri, such as for the PDOs Gurjaani, Tsinandali, and Vazisubani to add high-toned aromatics and to soften the resulting wine. When vinified in the European style, Rkatsiteli offers subtle floral aromas with notes of citrus, quince, and apple. If vinified in Qvevri, the wine typically is more powerful, moderately tannic, with crisp acidity; the oxidative handling elicits flavours of honey, dried orange peel, spices, apricot and other stone fruits. Rkatsiteli is predominantly vinified in a dry style, but it is also a core grape variety in the PDO Kardenakhi, a fortified wine, and is suitable for all styles of wine.