Archil used to try to make a wine using only the Otskhanuri Sapere. He discovered that (for him) the resulting wine was too strong, so now blends the Otskhanuri Sapere with Tsolikouri (White grape), with the proportion being 30/70. Firstly, he presses the Tsolikouri and adds it to a qvevri. Then, in November, he harvests the Otskhanuri Sapere, presses the grapes and adds the juice and chacha to the qvevri. According to Archil, even with the Tsolikouri fermented, it is not a problem to add the Otskhanuri Sapere. The maceration lasts for one month. To finish the wine, he continues to use the same winemaking process that he uses for the other qvevri wines. Even with the Tsolikouri making up the balance, this is a more structured wine with aromas and flavours of blackberry, cherry, dark berries.
Archil Guniava Wine Cellar and Vineyard are located in Zestaphoni, Kvaliti Village, at the family home, where generations of the family have lived. Vines are planted across 1.5 hectares of vineyards. This location provides excellent soil structure and a conducive climate for grapes. The vineyard plot is planted to many grape varieties: Tsolikouri, Tsitska, Krakhuna, Otskhanuri Sapere, Dzelshavi, Dondghlabi and Mgaloblishvili, the latter two being very rare and whose reputation Archil is dedicated to restoring. Everything is fermented in old qvevris buried in the marani (cellar). Natural winemaking methods are naturally employed with native ferments and nothing added; normally the wines would be made Imeretian-style with approximately 15% maceration on skins, but in the lighter 2019 vintage they were made without skins (bar the Dondghlabi).
The climate in this part of Imereti is subtropical, warm rather than hot, and quite humid in the summer. The soils are clay over limestone, this latter feature giving the wines their particular freshness and vitality. Organic farming methods are practised.
Grapes are harvested by hand, destemmed and crushed into the beeswax-lined qvevri. Ferments are ambient and take around two weeks to complete. All wines undergo natural malolactic fermentation and are bottled without filtration, fining or sulphur added.
Grape genealogy suggests Otskhanuri Sapere is a transitional variety between a cultivated and a wild vine. Grown throughout the Imereti region of western Georgia, Otskhanuri Sapere ripens in mid to late October. Like Saperavi, this is a teinturier grape, producing wines with a deep, opaque ruby colour. In their youth, the wines are grippy and structured with high tannins and acidity. Exhibiting flavours of forest fruits, red berries, and herbs, these wines have great aging potential. Otskhanuri Sapere is considered Imereti’s best red grape variety.