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MWG January 16th tasting (3/8): Rkatsiteli à l’orange

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According to some estimates, Rkatsiteli is, by acreage, the third most planted vinifera grape in the world. It’s also one of the oldest. Most is grown in the countries of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc, though it also has a toehold in North America, most famously in New York’s Finger Lakes region, where Dr. Konstantin Frank’s version has developed a minor cult following. The Frank Rkatsiteli is made in a modern, clean-as-a-whistle style, in sharp contrast to the three qvevri-fermented orange wines in this flight.

Kakheti 2011, Rkatsiteli, Pheasant’s Tears ($28.50, La QV, 6 bottles/case)
100% organically farmed Rkatsiteli. 12.5% ABV.
Yellow apple, oxidized pear, hints of spice, honeycomb, roasted poultry juices. Light yet intense and flavourful, with noticeable acidity and tannins. Long. Ultimately fruity and fresh, especially in comparison to the other two wines. (Buy again? Yes.)

Kakheti 2011, Rkatsiteli, Teleda ($30.50, La QV, 6 bottles/case)
100% organically farmed Rkatsiteli. 13.5% ABV. For background on the winery, which was founded in 2010, see here.
Oxidized butter, dried yellow fruit, dried herbs, dried flowers, hazelnut skins, whiff of sourness. Very dry and mouth-filling. Lots of flavour, including brown pear skin and apricot. There’s a core of vibrant fruit, acid galore and lingering faint tannins. The finish has a heady, almost volatile edge. A favourite of several around the table. (Buy again? Yes.)

Kakheti 2010, Rkatsiteli, Alaverdi ($40.00, La QV, 6 bottles/case)
Founded in the sixth century of the common era, the Alaverdi monastery has been making wine since at least the 11th century. The grapes for this 100% Rkatsiteli come from 40-year-old organically farmed vines. Unfiltered and unfined, with minimal added sulphur. 13% ABV.
Deep bronze as opposed to the other wines’ amber. Powerful, wild nose with notes of house paint and plaster along with more conventional apricot, minerals and herbs. Rich bordering on dense though in no way heavy. Structured by firm tannins and gleaming acidity. Very long. Fascinating. Needs food – something you might say about all the Georgians. (Buy again? Another bottle.)

Written by carswell

February 1, 2014 at 11:38

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