Proprietor: Aleksi Tsikhleshvili
Country Location: Georgia

"My wine has a memorable fragrance, a special flavor and nothing added." — Aleksi Tsikhilishvili

tsikhelishvili marani
Aleksi Tsikhelishvili

The People

When Aleksi Tsikhelishvili was a child, he learned to make wine from his mother. Today, he is the only one responsible for his vineyards and winemaking. The French word for the Georgian word Mevenakhe is Vigneron, which Aleksi is in the true sense. To quote Aleksi: “Our region Kakheti is a traditional wine region since almost everyone makes wine. I make wines because I simply love it. Wine is part of our lives. There’s no happy time without wine, no vicissitudes too!”

tsikhelishvili grapes
Grapes in the vineyard

In the Vineyard

2009 was Aleksi's first commercial vintage. His family has maintained the same vines since the Soviet period. The old vineyards are planted to the classical white Kakhetian varieties Rkatsiteli and Mtsvane and less than 100 vines of Jgia, an almost extinct red variety. From his 2.5 hectares, he produces 4,000 to 5,000 bottles annually, about 200 of which are Jgia. Cultivation is organic and all the fruit is estate grown.

The vines are located in the Zemo Alvani district, on the left bank of the Alazani in the north west of the Kakheti Valley where the river roars from the Caucasus. The soils are a mix of sand and clay. Jgia is planted in the Obodziani vineyard, Rkatsiteli and Mtsvane in Bitaani. To retain soil humidity in the hottest part of the summer, Aleksi does not cut the grass between the vines. The only vineyard treatments are copper and sulfur. All the work, from farming to harvest to qvevri, is manual.

tsikhelishvili qvevri
Buried qvevri

In the Cellar

White and red varieties are vinified basically the same way. Hand harvested fruit is destemmed and poured into qvevris. During the natural primary fermentation the must is regularly punched down. The qvevris are then sealed with clay and the wine rests on the skins for 6 to 7 months. Afer that, the wine is racked off the skins and allowed to settle in qvevris, 6 months for the 2016 Jgia, 18 months for the 2015 Rkatsiteli. All wines complete malolactic fermentation and are bottled without fining or filtration.

The Tsikhelishvili wines are both humble and grand; hand hewn masterpieces with an apparition-like aura and permanent resonance; wines one drinks to fill the mind more than the body. Aleqsi looks like a simple farmer with modest means but just a whiff of his work shows his artist’s heart and alchemist's touch. This is best understood through his Jgia wine. There is a soul mate quality to the story of Aleqsi and Jgia. For a forgotten grape to end up in the hands of its most sensitive interpreter is a special sort of love story. Tsikhelishvili wines are exotically fragrant and shapely, more nuance than force, faceted brilliant gems made to commemorate our most treasured moments.

Tsikhelishvili News:

#WineWednesday Spotlight #138: Tsikhelishvili Jghia

#WineWednesday Spotlight #138: Tsikhelishvili Jghia

Today we had the privilege to meet Aleksi Tsikhelishvili at his home near Telavi in Kakheti, Georgia. Learning winemaking from his mother, Aleksi...
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