Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Two Wonderful Georgian Wines

Sun Wine is wine from Georgia - the country, not the state.  No Foghorn Leghorn imitations are needed, but if you can manage a decent Eastern European or Western Asian accent, get that one going as you pour.  The republic of Georgia has more than 500 grape varieties on vine.  The label on the bottles mention that in 2016 archaeologists discovered clay vessels in the country containing cultivated grape seeds that date back to 6,000 B.C. - prompting Sun Wines to lay claim that Georgia was the birthplace of wine.

The Sun Wine story dates back more than 50 years, when grand-dad Mzekalashvili planted some Rkatsiteli vines and started making wine.  He used - as does the present winery - qvevri, giant terracotta clay pots in which the grapes turn into wine.  Sun Wines are brought to the U.S. by Georgian wine importer Sada Wine Imports of Philadelphia.

The 2018 Saperavi is a dry red wine made from Saperavi grapes - the name means "to give color," which they do indeed in this dark wine.  The wine has an alcohol level of only 12% abv and sells for about $18.  It really took me back a bit, to Spanada, a wine my mother used to drink back in the 1970s.  That is not an insult, by the way, but a compliment.

The nose on the Saperavi is dark and rich, just beautiful.  Aromas of blackberry and cassis join with savory notes of tobacco and leather.  The palate brings black cherry into play and a fresh acidity keeps it lively.  The wine tastes young, but is still plenty complex.

The 2018 Tsinandali is a dry white wine made from 80% Rkatsiteli and 20% Mtsvane grapes, sourced in the Tsinandali appellation, in the Telavi region.  Alcohol hits 12.5% abv and the retail price is about $17.

This wine's nose is a little bit apricot, a little bit floral; a little bit citrusy, a little bit saline.  There is even an earthy lanolin note coming through.  The palate is where the Tsinandali really makes its mark.  It has highly unusual flavors, most of which lean into the savory side of the spectrum.  The apricot is tempered by a nutty taste, reminiscent of - but not replicating - a Roussanne, or maybe a North American white wine.  Acidity is great.  I'm glad I had the opportunity to sample this grape.

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