Posts Tagged ‘Georgia’
Kartli 2011, Tavkveri, Pheasant’s Tears ($28.50, La QV, 6 bottles/case)
100% organically farmed Tavkveri, which Cyril described as being a Georgian analogue to Gamay. 12.5% ABV.
Sweet-smelling nose, the red fruit sprinkled with maple sugar and joined by notes of spice, ink and wood. Smooth and supple in the mouth, with just enough tannin to lend the wine a velours-like texture. The red cherry-like fruit has a definite tang. Fun. (Buy again? Making a point of it.)
Kakheti 2011, Saperavi, Pheasant’s Tears ($29.75, La QV, 6 bottles/case)
100% organically farmed Saperavi, another red-fleshed grape. 12.5% ABV.
Surprising nose of oysters, slate, spice and a whiff of barnyard. Approachable if tense tannins and sustained acidity give this middleweight good structure. The silky fruit takes on an earthy edge that lingers through the long finish. 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? Yes.)
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.)
Most ampelographers and wine historians consider the South Caucasus region – and more specifically, the part occupied by modern-day Georgia – to be the birthplace of wine-making, with archeological evidence stretching back some 8,000 or 9,000 years. Although modern-styled Georgian wines can be found, the most interesting continue to be made using traditional techniques. 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, terracotta jars lined with beeswax and sunk into the cool ground, where it ferments (with indigenous yeasts) and matures. The process, from start to finish, is nicely summarized in this recent video.
The resulting wines are full of character – they’ve got guts, as Hugh Johnson puts it – and are unlike any other. Like Jura wines, they aren’t to everyone’s taste and even those of us who are fascinated by them may find themselves forced to abandon their usual appreciation criteria and descriptors, taken out of their comfort zone and questioning what it is they want from a wine. It’s a brave
new old world and one we’re glad to have the opportunity to explore.
Kakheti 2011, Mtsvane, Pheasant’s Tears ($31,00, La QV, 6 bottles/case)
100% organically farmed Mtsvane. 12.5% ABV.
Candied peach, “scrambled egg sticking to the skillet,” a lactic whiff of cheese or whey. Fruity but dry. The sleek acidity comes out on the long finish, where it’s joined by a faintly tannic rasp and a hint of oxidation. Intriguing. (Buy again? Yes, maybe to serve with the grilled trout stuffed with green onion, lemon and tarragon from The Georgian Feast.)
Chardakhi 2011, Chinuri, Iago’s Wine ($35.20, La QV, 6 bottles/case)
Chardakhi is a village located in Kartli province near the ancient city of Mtskheta, about 20 km north of Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi. This 100% organically farmed Chinuri clocks in at 14% ABV. See this Alice Feiring blog post for background on the 2009.
Unfortunately, ours was an off bottle, though you could still tell this is rich, powerful orange wine with structure and dimension. (Buy again? Yes.)
Kakheti 2011, Chinuri, Pheasant’s Tears ($27.25, NLA)
100% organically farmed Chinuri. 12% ABV. A last-minute replacement for the off Chardakhi.
Constantly evolving nose marked by dried dill and pine resin. Medium-bodied, dry and crisp. The flavour is an odd but not unpleasant combination of fresh rainwater and oxidized fruit (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 left.)
Word has been a little slow in getting out, but, assuming he’s no longer snowbound at the Paris airport, Jura winemaker Jean-François Bourdy is in town and La QV has organized a few events around the visit.
From now through Saturday, Bocata wine bar in Old Montreal is serving glasses of Bourdy’s 1951 Château-Chalon, a vin jaune, paired with old Comté cheese for $40 a shot. Yes, that’s pricey, but bear in mind that a 620 ml bottle of the wine retails for a cool $559.
On Thursday, March 14, the bar at Toqué! is pairing three Bourdy wines with three small dishes designed expressly to accompany them. There are two seatings, the first at 6 p.m. and the second at 7:45 p.m., and only 12 places per time slot. For details, including the number to call for reservations, see here.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Bourdy will be in Quebec City for the Salon des vins de Québec.
And on Monday, March 18, the winemaker will be part of the Erin vs. Erin event at Nouveau Palais. The $30 fixed menu includes a 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. Reservations required.
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!)
Mukuzani 2009, United Stars, Koncho & Co. ($15.10, 10791491)
As far as I know, this and the Teliani Valley – neither of which are from the Cellier release – are the first Georgian wines ever sold at the SAQ. Both are made from Saperavi, a native teinturier (red-fleshed) grape. This Mukuzani is fermented with selected yeasts and matured three years in Caucasian oak.
Cherry, blackberry, slate, hickory smoke. Medium-bodied but round. Ripe, velvety fruit is balanced by firm tannins and good acidity. Fair length with a whiff of tobacco smoke on the finish. Simple but unpretentious and enjoyable, not to mention delivering considerable bang for the buck. (Buy again? Yes.)
Saperavi 2008, Teliani Valley ($15.90, 11607545)
Made from grapes grown in the Kakheti region. Aged one year, three months of which were spent in oak barrels.
Spicy, leather, slate/iron, hint of boiled cabbage. Ripe but not overly sweet fruit (cassis, black cherry) nicely brightened by acidity and structured by tight tannins. Balanced and fairly long. A tad more complex and affable than the United Stars. This is selling out fast; if you want some, don’t dawdle. (Buy again? Yes.)
Malbec 2009, Remolinos Vineyard, Agrelo, Mendoza, Decero ($21.95, 11625743)
100% Malbec. Destemmed before fermentation in stainless steel. Macerated for a little more than two weeks, then basket-pressed. Ninety percent goes into 30% new French oak barrels for malolactic fermentation, the remainder being kept in stainless tanks “to preserve the delicate violet aromatics.”
Sweet plum and spice with an iodine/briny note. Full-bodied but not heavy. Very spicy on the palate. Tight tannins, sweet fruit and no depth. (Buy again? No.)
Malbec 2007, Terroir Selection, Mendoza, Alta Vista ($26.90, 11602621)
100% Malbec from four vineyards. Destemmed and placed in small epoxy-lined concrete vats. Macerated 5-8 days, followed by alcoholic fermentation with frequent pumping over, followed by extended maceration at 28ºC (82ºF). Aged in small French oak barrels for 12 months.
Spice, red and black fruit, char, slate. Velvety texture. All about fruit, the high extraction necessary to hide the high alcohol (15% according to the SAQ, 15.5% according to the winemaker). Pudgy tannins. Enough acidity to keep it from galumphing but not to make it refreshing. (Buy again? No.)