Vinoterra Mtsvane 2005

I have never, ever seen a wine of this particular color before. This is an ungodly shade of sherry-peach-cream that I had no idea was possible outside of a 1970s makeup counter. Honestly, I’m surprised. Just when you think you’ve seen and drunk it all comes something completely outside and unthinkable to surprise you.I would have expected some oxidation on the nose given the color; instead, I get something like toffee and walnuts… for a moment until that tell-tale Sherry-like smells kicks in too. There are also wildly varying notes of cold cream, fine leather gloves, and cucumber. Overall, it has the effect of suggesting an English garden complete with ladies enjoying a cream tea: all kinds of curious, elegant smells suggesting flowers, finger sandwiches, kid leather, and freshly washed faces. Bizarre, I know, but honest: I’m not ridiculously far off the mark here.Relatively light at first, the flavor quickly solidifies in the mouth, showing slight oxidative notes as well as what feels like moderate tannin. However, things change up in the middle of palate, suddenly broadening out into tea roses, Brazil nuts, macadamia, and burnt cream. Although not a big wine (there is neither residual sugar nor noticeable alcohol), it nevertheless feels serious, solid, and frankly a bit like homework: the noticeable tannin prevents a sense of freshness and all of the fine aromatics on the nose are lost in the kerthunk of the wine driving its point home. However, there is also a fairly unbelievable suggestion of violet-encrusted strawberries, somehow, hiding in there among the oxidative notes and tannins. In short, I have absolutely no idea what the hell is going on here. If there was ever a wine so complex as to be bewildering, then it’s probably this one: my only real complaint is that there are so many things going on here and yet so few of them seem to belong in the same bottle.If this wine were a perfume, it would be Odeur 53 by Comme des Garçons: truly, this is remarkable, but drinking it is feeling awfully postmodern somehow. Serve with lavender crème brûlée, Marcona almonds, macaroons, and a bowl of Corn Pops. Why not?   Vinoterra
Price: $20
Closure: Cork
Source: Retail

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