IWINETC: Saperavi and Lenoir


by Paul V Bonarrigo, Co-Founder of Messina Hof

Years ago a NASA scientist spoke to the Texas grape industry about how thousands of years ago the land we call Texas was once located near the country of Georgia prior to the earth’s plates separating into the existing continents.

Texas is the home of the grape rootstocks of the world.  These roots have saved the wine industry from phyloxera and many soil born diseases.

Now as Merrill and I prepare to speak at the Wine Pleasures International Wine Tourism Conference, I now discover another very interesting fact.  Saperavi, the well known Georgian grape, and Lenoir, a well known Texas grape, have many similarities.


(Top Photo: Saperavi, Courtesy of Wikipedia; Lenoir, Courtesy of Messina Hof)

Saperavi and Lenoir are both teinturier – type grapes (varieties that have dark pulp that flow red)

Saperavi and Lenoir have large 3-lobed leaves that allow the cluster to develop high sugars.

Saperavi and Lenoir have medium size berries that flow dark bluish juice.

Saperavi and Lenoir have five month maturation periods.

Saperavi and Lenoir have been produced from the 1880’s.

Saperavi and Lenoir are very hardy and can handle extreme cold.

In a recent tasting of Meroni Mukuzani 2008 my tasting notes included “a dry deep red wine with hint of oak.  Medium bodied made from 100% Saperavi grapes from the Mukuzani district in Khakheti.  The nose and taste were very similar to a dry Lenoir grown in our vineyard at Messina Hof.”

Although Saperavi is considered Vitas Vinifera and Lenoir is considered Vitas Bourquiniana, the striking similarities of the clusters, leaves, and juice are worthy of additional study.

Wine brings people together.  Saperavi and Lenoir bring the grape industries of Georgia and Texas together with a common grape type that produces distinctive wine from that region.