Vinoterra Saperavi 2003

This is a beautiful wine to look at, all rich damson murkiness disappearing into the glass. The nose is wildly complex, offering up suggestions of Marmite, drippings, cola, and dried herbs. To be absolutely honest, I can’t tell at first whether or not it smells good; it seems to exist in a strange herbal-yeasty funk zone that isn’t clear about whether or not it’s supposed to smell like that. On the other hand, I appear to be salivating, so I suppose it’s not all bad.Drinking some of this comes as a shock: I wasn’t expecting something as austere as this. With that wildly massive nose, I was expecting a New World fruit bomb, and what I got instead was an elegant, restrained display of finesse. The tannins are the first thing I notice, somewhat drying, very firm; then, the chalky acidity mixes in with very herbal, dried fruits reminiscent of dried cherries and air-dried meat (think Bündnerfleisch, perhaps). It’s absolutely gorgeous, more like a ripe Burgundy than anything else I can think of, especially given the elegant, mineral, chalky mouthfeel juxtaposed against solid tannins – and yet there’s no greenness here, just lovely fruit set to great effect against that solid tannic-acidic background.Vinoterra
Price: $24
Closure: Cork
Source: Retail

Two Georgians Mukuzani 2004

My first instinct was to write a short review that went kind of like this:There are some amazing wines produced in Georgia. This is not one of them.My second instinct was to make an abstruse, lame joke about Two Lari Chuck (or whatever Chuck is in Georgian), but you know? That’s lame. Also, abstruse.So. Here’s the real tasting note:The packaging is cheesy and Russian: a cheap glass bottle inexplicably ribbed for your drinking pleasure. I suspect it’s supposed to look like a woven basket, but what does that have to do with kvevri?The nose is simple and grapey; with ten minutes’ aeration, it does eventually gain a bit in complexity, but not much. Fans of Zinfandel might like this or even confuse it with Zin, especially if already drunk. (Hint: This could be a bottle to serve once you’ve served the good  stuff at the beginning of the party.) Thin and gnashingly acidic, it does manage to right itself somewhat on the afterpalate, but the only flavors here are generic grape wine product with an edge of raspberry sorbet. It’s not nasty, but it’s also not enough to make me want to finish the bottle.My third and final idea for a brief review:How do you say sangria in Georgian?Oddly enough, this wine improved greatly after half an hour in the glass. Ultimately, I don’t think it’s a bad wine, just a fairly traditional one that doesn’t show well immediately after uncorking it, which is probably a bad thing for a wine in this price bracket. Even so, I’m not in a hurry to drink any more of it.Two Georgians
Price: $7.49
Closure: Cork

Vinoterra Saperavi 2003

I’m up in the (San Francisco) Bay Area for the weekend – tomorrow is day 2 of Bonny Doon’s annual winery festival, which sounds like it’s going to be fun – and I stopped by K&L Wines on the way to an East German restaurant. I wasn’t planning on buying anything, but when I saw that they had Georgia wine that didn’t cost five bucks, I had to buy a bottle immediately and take it back to the hotel after (an alcohol free) dinner.

The nose here is strongly reminiscent of a number of rich, fruity New World reds such as Michel Rolland’s Clos de los Siete, Mollydooker in South Australia, or Boekenhoutskloof in South Africa. There is, however, something slightly different here, with a note of coffee that doesn’t really seem like it should be from oak – it’s hard to describe.

More tannic than I was suspecting, the wine has rich, dark fruit nicely counterbalanced by some very well judged (French?) oak – it really is a generic international style wine far different than the Georgian stuff I’ve had from local Russian ex-pat delis in California. I’m not convinced that there’s anything here that you can’t find in a number of other wines in roughly the same price range, but it is tasty, the bottle is attractive, and there is a subtle taste here that is unfamiliar. It might make a good change for the overly jaded wine drinkers among us.

Price: $22
Closure: Cork
Date tasted: November 2008