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MWG January 10th tasting (3/7): Pheasant’s Tears

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The spark for the January 10th tasting was the recent arrival of several wines from Pheasant’s Tears, a young winery (established in 2007) located south of the Greater Caucasus mountain range in the Kakheti region of eastern Georgia. In contrast to the modern-styled Georgian wines we usually see, Pheasant’s Tears wines are made using traditional Georgian techniques that stretch back many thousands of years (most wine historians consider the region to be the birthplace of wine-making). The grapes – some of the hundreds of indigenous varieties found in Georgia – are picked and trod. The resulting must is transferred, along with the skins, ripe stems and seeds, to large qvevri, clay jars (lined with organic beeswax in Pheasant’s Tears case) that have been sunk into the cool ground, where it ferments (with indigenous yeasts) and matures. No sulphur is added, yet all three wines of the wines we tasted are as stable as they come.

For more background, see this YouTube clip from Hugh Johnson’s vintage Vintage series, globe-trotting Julien Marchand’s report (the last photo is of Julien in the Pheasant’s Tears tasting room), the Wikipedia article on Georgian wine and, of course, the Pheasant’s Tears website.

Chinuri 2011, Kakheti, Pheasant’s Tears ($27.25, La QV, 6 bottles/case)
100% Chinuri. 12% ABV.
Hazy gold. Unique nose: pears in syrup, saltwater taffy, slightly rancid butter, the ground under a cedar tree. On the light side of medium-bodied. Fluid. Very dry, even savoury. Crisp acidity. Delicate flavours tending to citrus, herbs and minerals. A bitter, faintly astringent note on finish. Hard to pin down – elusive, ephemeral – and all the more interesting for it. (Buy again? Done!)

Rkatsiteli 2010, Kakheti, Pheasant’s Tears ($27.25, La QV, 6 bottles/case)
100% Rkatsiteli. 12.5% ABV.
Amber-coloured – definitely an orange wine. Bouquet of honeyed yellow fruit and spice, not unlike some late-harvest whites. The palate is totally at odds with the nose and totally unlike modern-styled Rkatsitelis I’ve tried: bone dry, medium-bodied, structured and surprisingly tannic, with fruity overtones (dried apricot?) and a walnut skin astringency. Mouth-filling and long. Unique, involving, fascinating. (Buy again? Done!)

Saperavi 2010, Kakheti, Pheasant’s Tears ($29.85, La QV, 6 bottles/case)
100% Saperavi. 12.5% ABV.
Saperavi is a red-fleshed grape, which may explain the wine’s nearly opaque black-red colour. Nose of dried blueberries, sweat, skim milk, bay leaf. Rich and earthy in the mouth but not heavy. Intensely flavoured: dark fruit, spice, slate. Grippy tannins and a lingering astringency. Less dry than, say, a Bordeaux but not in any way sweet. Great breadth and length. A wine with real presence and a dark magnetism. (Buy again? Done!)

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Written by carswell

January 26, 2013 at 12:42

3 Responses

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  1. […] lamb main course. Red, white and bubbly Bourdy wines will be flowing and the Pheasant’s Tears Seperavi from Georgia will be a by-the-glass option for the lamb. Two seatings: 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. […]

  2. […] (pear and citrus?). A bit tannic on the finish, though fundamentally fleet. Not much changed from a year ago. (Buy again? Moot but I’m glad I have another bottle […]

  3. […] There’s not a lot of depth here but a really interesting surface. Seems a shade lighter than the 2010 tasted last spring. (Buy again? […]


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