(Pronounced "rkah-tsee-tely"; Georgian
რქაწითელი; literally "red stem") is a kind of grape
used to produce white wine
This ancient vinifera
originates in Georgia
and is one of the oldest grape varieties
. In Georgia, clay vessels were found with seeds of Rkatsiteli grapes which date back to 3000 BC.
Rkatsiteli was very popular in the Soviet Union prior to its fall and at one point was responsible for more the 18% of all Soviet wine production. There it was used to make everything from table wine to liqueurs to Sherry-like fortified wine. Prior to President Gorbachev's vine pull scheme, it was possibly the world's most widely planted white wine grape.
In Kakheti it was particularly know it sweet dessert wines fashioned in the same manner as port wine. There were many attempts to try and create a sparkling wine from the grape but its naturally high alcohol levels prevented it from being much of a success. It is still preferred in Russia.
The grape is mostly planted in its ancestral home of Georgia though there are still sizable plantings in other Eastern European
countries like Bulgaria
It is also planted, in small amounts, in Australia
and the eastern United States
, mainly in the Finger Lakes
region of New York
state. There has also been some experimental plantings in California
(where the grape is known as Baiyu
The high acidity
of the grape is prone to make the wines excessive tart so winemakers try to pick the grapes as late as possible in order to maximize the sugar balance to offset the acidity. In most regions of Eastern Europe harvest
is typically in mid October.
Rkatsiteli makes noticeably acidic, balanced
white wine with spicy and floral notes in the aroma.