The red grape variety comes from Georgia; the name means "dyer" (dyer grape). Synonyms are Atenuri Saperavi, Didi Saperavi, Meshketi, Meskuri Saperavi, Obchuri Saperavi, Saperaibi, Saperavi Crni, Saperavi de Kachet, Saperavi de Kakhetie, Saperavi Patara, Saperawi, Sapeur and Szaperavi. There are the varieties Saperavi Budeshurisebri, Saperavi Grdzelmarcvala, Saperavi Mskhvilmarcvala and Saperavi Pachkha. The parentage (parenthood) is unknown. She was a crossing partner of the new breeds Akhtanak, Bastardo Magarachsky, Granatovy, Melnik Yubileen, Nerkeni, Novac, Rubinovy Magaracha, Saperavi Severny, Serena, Sibera and Tigrani.
The late ripening, high-yielding vine is resistant to winter frost and also to drought. It produces colourful, full-bodied, tannic and acidic red wines with aromas of cherries and blackberries and, with appropriate ageing, also ageing potential. Due to the strongly colouring red fruit flesh, the variety is also often used as Teinturier (dyer's grape). Even when blended with a third of white wine, the wine remains dark coloured. It is also used as a table grape.
Saperavi was already widespread in Georgia in the 17th century. With 4,751 hectares of vineyards, it is the most common red wine variety there. It is mainly cultivated in the Kakheti region in the southeast. There it is the dominant variety in the appellation wines Achascheni, Kindzmarauli, Mukuzani and Napareuli. Other stocks were found in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Australia, Bulgaria (30 ha), Kazakhstan (428), Moldova (720 ha), Russia (716 ha) and Ukraine (1,514 ha). In 2010, the variety occupied a total of 8,126 hectares of vineyards, with an increasing trend (in 2000 it was 6,707 hectares). It occupies 83rd place in the worldwide grape variety ranking.
Source: Wine Grapes / J. Robinson, J. Harding, J. Vouillamoz / Penguin Books Ltd. 2012
Pictures: Ursula Brühl, Doris Schneider, Julius Kühn Institute (JKI)