While the first bubbly we think of may be champagne from France or California brut, actually bubbly is made all over the world.
The other day I was telling a PR friend named Debbie about tasting a great sparkling wine from Virginia called Thibaut-Janisson. I met winemaker and owner Claude Thibaut at Le Grand Champagne in Washington DC. A few weeks later, Thibaut Janisson Blanc de Chardonnay was featured at the Obama’s first state dinner honoring India’s prime minister, as this Washington Post story “Drinking Local at the White House” details.
“Well, I have a sparkling wine from Georgia,” Debbie said. Georgia — why not? — I thought. Wine is now made in all 50 states. But when the bottle of Bagratioini 1882 arrived, I realized my mistake. This wine was from the Georgia back in the former USSR.
According to the company’s web site, Ivane Bagrationi –Mukhraneli is descended from an ancient royal family that started making sparkling wine in Georgia back in the mid 1800s. In 1882, the wine won an international Grand Prix held in St. Petersburg. The winery was formally established in 1937.
Bagrationi 1882 Reserve was the first wine I tried. I took a sip and was rewarded with a crisp nicely balanced, methode-champenoise wine with fresh citrus and light peachy flavors and creamy bubbles. Ah yes, I could taste the juicy chardonnay. I looked at the label and discovered I was wrong again. The Bagrationi 1882 is made with native Chinuri, Tsitska and Mtsvane grapes grown near the Black Sea. I also liked the 1882 Classic, a lighter style of wine, made with the tank fermentation method.
I decided I could get used to drinking sparkling wine from Georgia. The only challenge is getting my hands on more; a review of Wine Searcher.com only turned up a handful of shops including All Corked Up in Santa Clarita, Georgian Wine House in Maryland and Schneider’s Capitol Hill in Washington DC that carry the Bagrationi 1882 wines, which can range in price from $12 to $24 a bottle. Of course, if you ever find yourself in Tblisis, they are happy to arrange tours and tastings.