Home | Wine Reviews | Wine Journals | Updates

by Tom Hill

A self-admitted wine geek, Tom lives in Northern New Mexico and works as a computational physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory doing numerical neutron transport & large scale code development. He has been tasting wines since 1971, participates locally with a couple of large tasting groups in his area, and is practically a fixture at most California wine festivals, such as the Hospice du Rhône, Rhône Rangers, and ZAP. Other interests: Tom is heavily into competitive sport fencing (foil & epee), biking, cooking, basketball, skiing, backpacking, mountain climbing.

Wines from Georgia - July 6, 2011

We tasted last night (7/6/11), Some Wines from Georgia:

  1. Pheasant'sTears Rkatsiteli Dry WW (Unfltrd; Btl# 595; 12.5%; Handpressed into amphora lined w/
    beeswax buried in the ground; www.PheasantTears.com) Kakheti/Georgia 2008
    : Rather orange/brown color; somewhat milky ripe/very ripe/figgy/orangey/QuadyEssensia-like/grapey slight oxidized rather attractive nose; strong very bitter/astringent rather figgy/orangey/graham cracker dry quite ripe/rich very interesting flavor; very long quite astringent/bitter/tannic dry quite orangey/figgy very interesting finish; not a lot of oxidative character in this wine; the strong bitter/tannic character on the palate is distracting, but the right food might ameliorate that; very much like a dry/astringent QuadyEssencia; quite an interesting wine. $17.00 (K&L)
  2. Kakheti Georgia Saperavi (11%) 1999: Med.color; some wet wool/wet dog fur bit old-Zin-like slight musty (non-TCA) slightly tired some black cherry/bing cherry slight Refosco-like nose; tart bit dried-out/tannic slightly oxidized light black cherry/refosco-like flavor; long rather tired/tannic/dried out bit pencilly/cedary/old-Zin finish; some interesting things in the nose but seems a bit tired on the palate. $11.00 (CB)
  3. Schuchmann Saperavi Kakheti/Georgia (12.5%; www.Schuchmann-Wines.com) 2008: Quite dark in color; very strong grapey/fruity/juicy slight earthy bit Refosco-like/black cherry slight Pinot-like/fragrant nose; rather tannic/ rough/coarse/rustic very grapey/juicy/black cherry quite intense flavor; somewhat rough/hard/tannic long very grapey/juicy/black cherry finish; lots of big/juicy fruit and a bit rough/rustic but rather interesting wine; a bit like a late harvest Refosco; maybe a bit like a Sangue di Giuda or a Butafuoco from the OltropoPavese; lots of pomegranate juice character; quite an interesting wine at a very good price. $12.70 (CB)
  4. Pheasant'sTears Saperavi BlackWine (Unfltrd; 12.5%; Handpressed into amphora lined w/
    beeswax buried in the ground; www.PheasantTears.com) 2008
    : Black color; strong earthy/rustic intense grapey/smokey/ Refosco-like/black cherry very ripe bit LateHrvst Zin-like boysenberry complex/interesting nose; rather rough/coarse/tannic big fruit/black cherry/boysenberry/Refosco-like slight smokey/pungent/earthy/licorice interesting flavor; long big fruit/boysenberry/black cherry/Refosco-like somewhat earthy/rustic/tannic/licorice finish; a bit LateHrvst Zin-like w/o the perfume or alcohol; a huge fruit wine but lots of rough/tannic character; needs more age; much like an OltropoPavese wine again; really quite interesting. $17.00 (K&L)
  5. Kakheti KhvanchkaraVnyds Racha/Georgia  (Aleksandreuli & Mudzhuretuli grapes; SemiSweet; 11%) 1999: Med.dark color w/ slight bricking; very ripe/LateHrvst Zin-like/licorice/boysenberry/pruney rather earthy/rustic complex nose; rather sweet LHZin-like/grapey/pomegranate juice/licorice earthy/rough/rustic interesting flavor; very long grapey/LHZin-like/pomegranate/juicy fairly sweet some earthy/rustic/raisened finish w/ light tannins; reminds me a lot of LateHrvst Zin w/o the alcohol; stuck fermentation Zins of the '70's w/o the alcohol; sorta like Charlie Meyer's Country-Style Deaver Zin perhaps; interesting wine that doesn't show its age. $17.00 (CB)

    Ridge Zinarch 23, 201
And a wee BloodyPulpit:

1. I had a Georgian wine yrs ago that was pretty dreadful and have avoided them like the plague since then. Shows the folly of extrapolating a generalization based on one data point (we LosAlamos-types often extrapolate based on no data points!!). Last time I was at CortiBros/Sacramento; Darrell had a few ones that he urged me to try, so I did. Glad I did. I don't think I made any big believers in my group for Georgian wines, but I found all of them rather interesting and glad I tried them. Sometimes it's nice to expand your vinous horizons a bit.
2. Rkatsiteli: This is a prime example of an orange wine, made w/ extended skin contact and in an oxidative environment. I've expressed doubts before about the viability, especially in Calif, of orange wines as a genre. This wine was actually much better than I expected; not nearly as oxidized as I was expecting. Like many orange wines, the astringent/bitter character on the palate was a bit off-putting. Which is why I served it at a somewhat warmer temperature than you normally would. But I suspect, with the right food that character would not be so striking.

Interesting, Rkatsiteli was once the 3'rd most planted grape in the world, until Gorbachov ordered the wholesale distruction of vnyds (why??) in the mid-'80's. Yet you don't see much varietally-labeled Rkatsiteli around. There was once some planted by Concannon (why?) in Livermore. Some plantings up in the FingerLakes and Canada, and a bit in WashState.
3. Saperavi: I've only had some 5-6 Saperavis, so it was nice to have three together to get some sort of handle on the variety. They seem to have a lot of very grapey character; a bit like a Refosco w/o the finesse. Reminded me more of Sangue di Guida or Butafuoco from the OltrepoPavese more than anything, I think. Lots of pomegranate and black cherry character. Interesting grape that I'd like to see what it can do in Calif. Would be a tough sell for the marketing guys.
4. Georgia: is, of course, the birthplace of winemaking. Dating back to 9000-5000 BC (and...yes....that is way before my time). They would make clay vessels, bury them in the ground, and let them ferment and age at a cool Earth temperature...sometimes for as long as 50 yrs. With the fall of the SovietUnion, there seems to be a turn towards quality in Georgian wines (it is well-known that Socialists make crappy wines....production quotas are the goal and quality is not a recognized quantity). Don't know if there's an interest by foreign investors in winemaking there or not. There seems to be a number of importers now of Georgian wine. I plan to share/inflict more of them on my tasting group.


[Additional Wine Reviews from Tom Hill]


Home | Wine Reviews | Wine Journals | Updates

Copyright © 1993 - 2010, Tom Hill- All rights reserved
No original material may be reproduced without written consent
Mail & Comments
- Grape-Nutz
Updated 5.24.11