Teliani Valley Khvanchkara 2006

If this wine were used as a prop, I wouldn’t believe it was real. Alternatively, just looking at the glass makes me wonder if my internal color correction software is off; there’s an odd, unreal purple-mauve thing going here that’s just a little bit unusual.Grapey-yeasty-sweet on the nose, it’s clear this isn’t profoundly complex, but it’s appealing enough in its own way. With some aeration, the nose shifts into a less cherry-candy spectrum, suggesting instead a bit of sourness, stalkiness, and other almost Pinot-like flavors.Although advertised as a semi-sweet wine, the sweetness isn’t appreciably more than many wines made for the American palate: yes, there’s just a bit more residual sugar than you’d find in something like [yellow tail] shiraz, but it’s far from a full-on sweet wine. What’s more immediately apparent is that there are wonderfully present tannins here, firm and ripe, supporting a wonderfully textured, unctuously rich wine that has traded alcohol for sugars in order to get that texture. In short, if you like high octane New World red wines with that tell-tale high alcohol rich, filling mouthfeel, then this might be a fairly good substitute if you like the taste and feel but don’t like the hangover the next day.Returning to the wine again, there’s almost a suggestion of green olives on the nose; another glass and I’m almost reminded of eating liver pâté with cornichons and sweet pickled onions. I don’t mean to suggest that this wine smells like liverwurst – it doesn’t at all – but rather that there’s the same interesting juxtaposition between a sweetness and something, well, a bit more trying than that. The supporting acidity keeps the wine fresh, not cloying; the tannin makes it all seem rather more serious than it has any right to be.Ultimately, it’s a very good wine indeed. I’d be interested to see how it works with cheesecake and foie gras, but alas my cupboards are bare at the moment. If you have some, chill it down slightly and try it out as a kind of gateway drug with friends who don’t drink wine: it’s approachable enough to please just about anyone, and yet there’s enough going on the background to open the conversation about the pleasurable complexities of good wine.Teliani Valley
Price: $22
Closure: Cork
Source: Retail