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Top Wines: Merano Festival (Chateau Mukhrani, Georgia), June 2nd 2024

Merano festival at Chateau Mukhrani (June 2nd 2024), is originally a festival from Italy that began also in Georgia. I managed to taste 73 wines from 31 producers. 

Sadly the Bolnisi PDO festival in the old Swabian/German town of Bolnisi (Ekaterinefield) south of Tbilisi was held on the same day as Merano, making it impossible to do both this year. Hopefully schedule conflicts like this won’t happen next year.

At Merano the majority were rated “good” or “acceptable”. And by this, I mean wines that we can objectively say to have merit and enjoyable characteristics that make them successful.

I should be clear, that “good” really is good enough. These are wines you’d enjoy drinking. Getting a higher rating than “good” means producing a wine that stands out against all other wines tasted (above average), with better balance and relevant characteristics.

Only a few wines were rated “poor” or “faulty”. These are wines that would not be recommended at all (poor wines) or had suffered from wine faults such as volatile acidity, TCA (cork taint), volatile sulfur compounds, etc. at a level to make the wines unpalatable.

Though we try to be as objective as possible in these assessments, some things should be taken into account:

  • Blind tasting was not possible, so small biases may exist inadvertently.
  • The tasting environment of a busy indoor and outdoor festival is not ideal and some factors affect the tasting:
    • Environmental odors – from people walking around with coffee to strong perfume etc.
    • Inconsistent lighting for assessing appearance and color.
    • Full rinsing of glasses between every tasting was impractical, though we tried as best as possible.
  • I normally say “show me your best wines” and not “I like red” so its normally likely that I get a disproportionate amount of better wines.

We only tasted a little less than half of all vendors on offer.

We did not taste every wine from each vendor.

It should be noted that we mostly skipped wineries which we know to typically be consistently great from prior tastings, or because we already tasted them at previous festivals this year – you can read those reviews here: 

Zero Compromise | New Wine Festival (Mtatsminda)

So, we may have missed some excellent wines. But from what we did taste, we hope you will enjoy discovering some of the below which we gave upper category ratings.

Ratings are based on Balance / Length / Intensity / Complexity and Style (ie. how they fit within the category of the style/intention of the wine). A “very good” rating would be made when 3 to 4 of these criteria have been met successfully. Some consideration is given to young wines that have the potential to arrive at this level in an expected timeframe of aging.

There are many more wine festivals coming soon, and we intend to publish our favorites for those too.

Merano Festival (Chateau Mukhrani) 2nd June 2024

This is the most sophisticated wine festival of the season, held at the now beautifully renovated Chateau Mukhrani, 45 minutes north of Tbilisi. A few wineries from outside Georgia were also represented.

Note my “personal top picks” were based on a more subjective bias of wine styles I love. But everything on the list in general I’ve rated as objectively as possible.

73 wines from 31 producers.

In order of which i did the tastings, not in order of preference. There are wines from some producers that made previous lists and I did not re-taste or re-list them here.

All wines below achieved “very good” or better or were on the cusp from good to very good and also deserved a mention.

  1. Chateau Buera
    1. Rkatsiteli Qvevri Dry 2020 (then oak)
    2. Saperavi Dry 2019 (oak)
  2. Chelti – Saperavi Qvevri Dry 2017 (then oak)
  3. Uchas
    1. Rkatsiteli / Mtsvane Pet-Nat Dry 2023
    2. Dzelshavi / Tsolikouri / Tsitska / Rko Dry 2022
  4. Pearl of Imereti
    1. Tsitska (40%) / Krakhuna (60%) Qvevri Dry 2019 (no skin contact)
    2. Tsolikouri Qvevri Dry 2023 (30% skin contact, 1 month)
  5. Churi-Chinebuli Winery – Aladasturi Qvevri Dry 2023 (made appassimento – grapes are air dried before making the wine)
  6. Louis J’adot
    1. White Burgundy Dry 2022
    2. Pinot Noir Dry 2020
  7. Rapaura Springs (Marlborough, NZ) – Sauvignon Blanc Dry 2022 – Personal Top Pick
  8. Orilo – Saperavi Khashmi Dry 2020 (15 months oak)
  9. Baias Wines – Tsitska / Tsolikouri / Krakhuna Qvevri Dry 2022 (30% skins)
  10. Lipartiani – “Queen Tamar” Krakhuna (60%) / Tsolikouri / Tsitska / Mtsvane / Rkatsiteli / Sauvignon Blanc dry 2016 (oak)
  11. Georgian Royal Wine (GRW) Rezo’s Wine – Saperavi Dry 2021 (oak)
  12. Milaraouli
    1. Rkatsiteli / Kisi / Mtsvane Qvevri Dry 2021
    2. Syrah Qvevri Dry 2021 (2 months skin contact, 6 month total in qvevri)
  13. Tsinandali Estate – Pinot Noir 2023 (experimental wine. Blending 2022 pinot aged one year in oak, with 2023 pinot not oak aged. Interesting experiment, might be controversial to some drinkers!)
  14. Krya (Armenia) – Black Areni Dry 2021 (1 year oak)
  15. Chateau Mukhrani
    1. Rkatsiteli (70%) / Goruli Mtsvane (30%) Qvevri 2019 (8 months oak)
    2. Shavkapito Reserve Royal Red Dry 2019 (19 months oak) – Personal Top Pick
    3. Saperavi Reserve Royal Dry 2015
  16. Gevorkina (Armenia) – Kes Kakhani Dry Red 2019 (6 month oak. Half grapes dried inappassimento method, other half fermented fresh. The dried half added to the fresh later and fermentation restarts)
  17. Rotcho – Khikhvi Qvevri Dry 2022

24 wines, from 17 wineries that made it into the higher category!

  1.  

I’ll be back with more wine lists from the Georgia Wine Expo 7th to 9th June 2024.

Thanks to The Amazing Winemakers!

Congratulations to all the amazing wineries that made it into our upper category ratings. As well as all the other amazing winemakers who continue to make the Georgian natural wines scene one of the most exciting and diverse in the world!

 Georgian Wine Crash Course & Tasting Cheat Sheet / Guide
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About the author

Pro food & drink travel writer, photographer & podcaster since 2013. WSET2 (distinction). Georgian Sommelier (In Progress). 200+ wineries visited in Georgia. Many 1000's of natural/qvevri wines tasted since 2016. Tommo & his wife have now visited 95+ countries in search of food and wine. They decided to make Georgia (Country) their home base in 2019 and establish Eat This! Food & Wine Tours.


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