Tag Archives: white wine

white wine

Delibori Lugana 2014

When I first started my adventures into wine here in Turkey I refused to buy imported wines like this Delibori Lugana. Because alcohol taxes here aren’t high enough; the Turkish Government also levies very high import taxes. So a wine that might cost five Euros in Europe will cost three-four times that here.

However my attitude towards imported wines has slowly changed. They’re still outrageously over priced; don’t get me wrong! But with the falling value of the Turkish Lira and given the high prices I pay for many Turkish wines I find that I’m more willing to buy imports these days.

This Delibori Lugana I found at the Metro shopping center. I had heard stories of this place which resembles an American Costco but had never been. Wine of course is not available at quite the bulk/discount that it would be at a Costco but the selection can at least be diverse.

Delibori Lugana

Lugana is not a grape but an area in Italy; specifically in the Veneto near Lake Garda. Lugana was registered as a DOC (denominazione di origne controllata) in 1967. According to the DOC production rules, a wine can be labelled Lugana if produced with at least 90% of Trebbiano di Lugana (Turbiana) grapes grown in the registered Lugana wine producing area. These are some of my favorite Italian white wines.

Delibori Lugana Tasting Notes:

The Delibori Lugana is a blend of the required Turbiana and Chardonnay. At 12% abv it also follows the Lugana DOC regulations that alcohol not be below 10.5%.

In the glass it is a medium, bright yellow. The nose is equally citrus and floral with white flowers and honeysuckle. On the palate the acid feels low giving the wine a silky feeling. The finish is sort but the wine is very flavorful with citrus (lemon and lemon peel), flowers (again honeysuckle), and mineral.

A Tasting of Yanık Ülke

I was recently lucky enough to be invited to the Galata Anemon hotel for a tasting of Yanık Ülke wines.

Yanık Ülke  was established by the Akçura family on the rocky volcanic slopes of the Divlit Volcano near Izmir. The terroir in that area is volcanic and similar to that of Mount Etna in Italy. They have 150 hectares (60 under vine) located at 924 meters above sea level. Their site boasts not only vineyards planted with an interesting variety of grapes but also a hotel and onsite restaurant.

Yanık Ülke

Yanık Ülke plants only old favorites such as Muscat, Chardonnay, Viognier, Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Boğazkere, and Öküzgözü. They are also the only vineyard in Turkey, to my knowledge, cultivating Cataratto, Gewürtzraminer, Nerello Cappucchio,  and Nerello Mascalese. 

Yanık Ülke Gewurtztraminer

Vineyard manager Çağrı Kurucu lead our tasting of eight Yanık Ülke wines including: Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Viognier, Nerello Mascalese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Miratus, and Serendipity.

Yanık Ülke Viognier

Yanık Ülke Chardonnay Tasting Notes:

This is a nice, light Chardonnay from Yanık Ülke, perfect for people like me who don’t like a lot of oak in their white wines. A bright, medium lemon in color and a medium intense nose of sweet florals and tropical fruits. Medium-bodied with a medium plus finish the wine is generally well-balanced. It finish rather warm and really shows off both Chardonnay’s characteristic tropical fruits and the distinctive minerality from volcanic soils.

Yanık Ülke Viognier 2016 Tasting Notes:

I am unabashedly a fan of Viognier. I first discovered this grape while living in DC as several Virginia wineries are doing great things with it. Here in Turkey there are fewer options with my favorites being from Kayra and Chamlija so it’s nice to add Yanık Ülke to the line up (which also includes wines from Selendi and Kastro Tireli).

A lovely light but intense lemon color, Yanık Ülke’s Viognier has a delicate but aromatic nose filled with white flowers, yellow apple, mineral, and ripe fruits. A very soft mouthfeel and elegant fruit flavors make this an ideal wine as an aperitif or for summer sipping!

Yanık Ülke

Yanık Ülke Gewürztraminer 2016 Tasting Notes:

I am not going to lie; this was my favorite of the whites. As far as I’m aware Yanık Ülke is the only winery here currently experimenting with Gewürztraminer. This is one of my favorite white wine grapes so I was very excited for this.

Do not let the delicacy of this wine fool you! At 14% abv it’s bigger than it seems. The nose is aromatic; white flowers, ripe stone fruits, and tropical fruits. Sur lie aging lends a lightly creamy mouthfeel here carrying the warm peach flavors to a long finish. Don’t get this thinking you’ll be drinking a German or French Gewürztraminer; this is an entirely Turkish Gewürztraminer!

Yanık Ülke Nerello Mascalese

Yanık Ülke Nerello Mascalese 2015 Tasting Notes:

Nerello Mascalese is another grape that I’ve seen only from Yanık Ülke in Turkey. For good reason. This native Italian grape is best known for being cultivated on Mount Etna so Yanık Ülke’s volcanic soil is the perfect place in Turkey for it.

This bright, plum-purple wine has a fruity nose. Rich, full of forest fruits, sweet spices, and vanilla. The palate surprises with a little more attitude from this unoaked, medium-bodied wine. The slight bite of black pepper keeps it from veering too far into jammy territory and compliments the fruit flavors well.

Yanık Ülke Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 Tasting Notes:

This Cabernet was aged in both French and (majority) American oak and I think Yanık Ülke has reached a good balance of the two in their blending. The different oak influences are obvious while being harmonious. The nose carries opulent red fruits, sweet spices, cinnamon, and hints of leather and perfumed violet. Fruit-forward on the palate with soft, round tannins and a slightly bitter, green stem finish.

Yanık Ülke Serendipity

Yanık Ülke Serendipity 2015 Tasting Notes:

Serendipity is Yanık Ülke’s Bordeaux blend. A coupage of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc makes it a classic blend. There was a prodigious use of oak in this blend. The Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot were aged in old oak and the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot aged in new oak prior to blending. Perhaps the wine needs more bottle or breathing time but for me this was a little like drinking oak syrup. Nose and palate are heavy with caramel, vanilla, baking spices and cooked fruits.

Yanık Ülke Shiraz Reserve 2014 Tasting Notes:

Yanık Ülke’s Shiraz Reserve is intensely purple-ruby color. I found the nose to be very floral initially giving way to big clove aromas with the fruit being almost an afterthought. The palate at this point is still a little unbalanced. Like the Serendipity it needs a little more time and patient decanting. The tannins are quite aggressive and there’s an acrid green stem flavor up front. The clove is very pronounced on the palate which I enjoyed.

Yanık Ülke Miratus

Yanık Ülke Miratus Oak Blend 2015 Tasting Notes:

When they told us that the Miratus was the ‘oak blend’ I was frankly a little terrified. After the oaky syrup flavors I got in the Serendipity I wasn’t sure what to expect from this blend of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Bogazkere, and Shiraz. Despite my initial trepidation I rather enjoyed this one. But first-what do they mean by oak blend? Each variety is oak aged prior to blending as usual, but the wine is aged in oak again after blending as well. The Miratus spends a total of two to three years in total. You can definitely smell the oak. There’s little subtlety as you’re all but swamped with aromas of vanilla, baking spices, and cooked fruit. However the wine finds its balance on the palate where hints of black pepper cut through the oak providing an interesting edge. The flavors are also a lot brighter than I expected after the nose giving the impression of a wine that is rich with round tannins, red fruits, sweet spices, and pepper.

Overall this was a really interesting look into Yanık Ülke. It seems they are doing some interesting things; not the least of which is cultivating grapes otherwise not seen in Turkey. I’m looking forward to getting to know this producer better.

 

Badagoni Pirosmani White 2014

I don’t know why but there’s a fever among the expat population in Istanbul for all things Georgian. Both Pop-Up Istanbul and Popist Supper Club have held Georgian nights. I served as the tamada at the latter (but that’s a different story). I, like several friends, have two kilos of khinkhali in my freezer. And we’re mad for Georgian wine (although really who can blame us?). So when my friend K came home from London with a couple bottles of wine from Badagoni I was thrilled to share the Pirosmani White with her.

Badagoni is a fairly new winery in Georgia all things considered. While established in only 2002 it has quickly become one of Georgia’s largest wine producers. With help and support from well-respected enologist Donato Lanati, Badagoni wines have won awards both domestically and abroad.

Located in the Zemo Khodasheni village in Kakheti, the most famous of Georgian wine  regions, Badagoni produces wine in both the traditional Georgian and European styles. Their product line up is extensive. If you have time to visit Kakheti you can book a tour at Badagoni. However if you’re just breezing through Tbilisi their wines are widely available. I believe there’s even a Badagoni office/shop on Freedom Square.

Pirosmani White

Badagoni Pirosmani White 2014 Tasting Notes:

Named after arguably one of the greatest Georgian artists, Niko Pirosmani, the Pirosmani White (there’s also a red) is a semi-dry wine. It is a blend of Rkatsiteli, Kakhetian Mtsvane, and Kisi. In the glass it’s almost perfectly clear with barely a hint of discernible color. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was expecting from this wine. It was not however this lovely, light and delicate but still flavorful wine. Which despite its delicacy was still a rather surprising 12% abv.

The nose here was full of vanilla, cream, and white peaches. These were reflected on the palate with the addition of tropical/mango flavors. As a semi-dry wine K and I agreed that it was best served quite cold (around 5C) but the presence of strong acidic backbone kept the wine from sliding too far into the sweet category.

I would definitely go back to this one and can only hope to lay my hands on more wines from Badgoni in the future!

Saranta Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Saranta is one of the new kinds on the block of the Turkish wine industry. While established in 2007 and with a debut vintage in 2010 we’ve only really seen Saranta wines in Istanbul over the past year.  Happily for wine lovers Saranta is hiding no longer. They exploded on the main stage at the Sommeliers’ Selection Turkey 2017. A few months later Saranta wines were popping up in Istanbul bottle shops.

Located in Turkey’s Thrace, just a stone’s throw from another Thracian jewel, Vino Dessera, Saranta is producing quality wines under two labels: Saranta and Chateau Murou.

Saranta

Saranta sources grapes from its own vineyards in Kırklareli as well as from other growers in the Thracian region. After processing in its state of the art facilities wines are aged and stored in the beautiful cellar. Wines with the Saranta label are aged entirely in stainless steel. Wines labeled Chateau Murou age in French oak barriques.

Saranta

Saranta will soon offer not only tours and tastings in its beautiful tasting room but also a place to stay. Right next door to the winery’s facilities stands a lovely, nearly complete boutique hotel.

Saranta Sauvignon Blanc

Saranta Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Tasting Notes:

The Saranta Sauvignon Blanc has a flinty nose with undertones of citrus. The acid is rather on the high side but the overall wine is nicely balanced. On the palate there’s lots of citrus (lemon peel and grapefruit) with a slightly warm, lemon curd finish. The Kırklareli terroir makes itself known in the wine and you can taste the distinctive minerals from the quartz-laden soils.

I’m really looking forward to more of Saranta’s wines!

Vinkara Hasandede 2015

Perhaps my biggest beef with the Turkish wine industry (well aside from active government oppression) is that I feel that many of the best wineries here put too little effort into cultivating and vinifying native Turkish grapes. Quite possibly five to 10 years ago this is what they had to do to attract consumers both domestically and abroad. But the last years have demonstrated that wine drinkers are drawn more and more to native grape varieties and winemaking methods.

Turkey is home to dozens of grape varieties. Certainly not all of them are cultivated for wine but many are. They are capable of creating wines with perfumed elegance and wines of power and structure. And by no means are all winemakers ignoring them. Many like Kayra, Suvla, Chamlija, Tempus, Likya, and more are not only vinifying native grapes but in some cases even rescuing them. However one winery has dedicated itself to making wine with native grapes: Vinkara.

Vinkara Hasandede

Founded by Ardıç Gürsel in 2003, the mission of Vinkara is to introduce and build awareness of native Anatolian grapes. Red varieties like Kalecik Karası, Öküzgözü and Boğazkere are made in their house, Reserve, and Winehouse styles as is the white grape Narince. Vinkara even produces blanc de noirs and rose sparkling wines called Yaşasın out of Kalecik Karası.

Located in special mesoclimate in the Kızılırmak River Basin outside the village of Kalecik; Vinkara’s vineyards could not be more perfectly located to take advantage of the Anatolian soils. Planted 2000 feet above sea level in sand, clay, and limestone with high mineral content the soils have excellent natural drainage. Cold, snowy winters and hot, dry summers with sharp diurnal temp fluctuations all provide excellent growing conditions for these native grapes.

Vinkara Hasandede

The newest Vinkara wine to cross my path also introduced me to a new Turkish varietal: Hasandede. Part of the winery’s Winehouse style, the Hasandede is a thin-skinned, medium sized grape. Jancis Robinson’s Wine Grapes describes this grape as “humdrum”. All respect to Ms. Robinson (who really is the master of all wine knowledge) but Hasandede is anything but humdrum. Or at least it is in the hands of Vinkara’s winemakers.

I first encountered the Vinkara Hasandede at Demeti, one of the best meyhane restaurants in Cihangir (Istanbul). My friend K and I were treated to a beautiful meal and wine tasting of both Turkish and international wines by our friend Ali. I’m a big believer in the “if it grows together it goes together” wine and food pairing philosophy and it is certainly true in the case of Turkish foods. The Hasandede paired beautifully with the

Vinkara Hasandede

Vinkara Hasandede 2015 Tasting Notes:

The Vinkara Hasandede has a surprising amount of alcohol (13% abv) for how relatively light it is. In the glass it shows a brilliant, clear, pale lemon color. Distinctive tears suggest the hint of residual sugar for which I think the Vinkara Winehouse wines are known.

The nose is initially reminiscent of a Misket; delicately perfumed with florals and citrus aromas. The development on the palate shows so much more than the nose. And edge of zippy acid balances beautifully with the slight sweetness while flavors of smokey minerality, cream, and gooseberry delight the tongue.

An absolutely delightful wine from Vinkara! Excellent for either pairing with food or enjoying on its own.

Leelanau Cellars Select Harvest Riesling

In August I went back to the States for the first time in two years. While I was there I gave a wine tasting for some family and friends. It was a strange mixed bag of wines from the US and abroad. It included two wines from Michigan; one from Leelanau Cellars.

Yes. We make wine in Michigan. Every. Single. State. In America makes wine. Even Hawaii and Alaska. California may have the biggest reputation but personally I don’t think they’re even the best. For me the best American wines are coming out of Oregon, Washington, and New York.  But back to Michigan.

MI tasting

Michigan wines are steadily, if somewhat slowly, improving. My experience with them is that they are still largely what one might call a ‘porch wine’. Decent quality but without any real depth of character. They are easy drinking and and usually a little on the sweet side. Even the “dry” wines. But they are gaining recognition and winning awards so we can’t be doing too badly really.

To learn more about Michigan wines, wineries, and wine tourism I suggest checking out Michigan Wines official webpage and Michigan By the Bottle .

Leelanau Cellars

Leelanau Cellars Select Harvest Riesling Tasting Notes:

Leelanau Cellars is one of our more northerly wineries. Located north of Michigan’s famous Traverse City, the Jacobson family has been making wine here for 35 years. Leelanau Cellers’ wines cover a wide range from dry to fruit (we’re big on fruit wine in Michigan), sweet, and even a white port.

The Select Harvest Riesling is part of Leelanau Cellars’ Tall Ships series. As the name implies, it is a non vintage blend. At only 11% abv it’s fairly low in alcohol. That combined with a semi-sweet nature makes it a dangerously easy wine to quaff.

Michigan does Riesling well and Leelanau Cellars Select Harvest Riesling is no exception. It shows distinctive characteristics of the grape from the clear, pale lemon color to the floral and stone fruits on the nose. The residual sugar lends a slightly thick, honey-like texture to the wine. However rather than being cloying-the fear of those who don’t love a sweet wine-the nose and palate are delicate. Honeysuckle, fresh peaches, and the richness of dried apricots form a beautiful marriage of aromas and flavors. 

So yes, we make wine in Michigan. You should check it out sometime.

Georgian Wine Tasting in Istanbul

Georgian wine has been gaining in popularity for several years now. Not even Istanbul can resist the charms of neighboring Georgia’s wine and cuisine. While we don’t get a huge variety of Georgian wine here we at least have a steady supply.

While the wine tastings I lead are usually Turkish wine-focused, several months ago we shelved the Turkish wine in favor of some of the Georgian wines available here. Apparently not even sharing a border with a country makes it easier to import alcohol. The selection here is limited to a few basic table wines from a couple of Georgia’s large, commercial producers; particularly Chateau Mukhrani and Telavi Wine Cellar.

Georgian wine

Chateau Mukrani is one of the largest wineries in Georgia. The winery was originally established towards the end of the nineteenth century by Prince Ivane Mukhranbatoni on the family’s Mukhrani estate. By 1896 winery production peaked with twelve wines and international awards and popularity. Unfortunately the chateau and vineyards suffered during the twentieth century. In 2002 an investment group formed to restore the chateau to its former glory. By 2007 they were producing wines from newly invigorated vineyards in the eastern Georgian village of Mukhrani.

In the middle of Alazani Valley, lies Kakheti’s largest city, Telavi. It is just outside the city where, in 1915, Telavi Wine Cellar was founded. Telavi Wien Cellar belnds innovation with a sense of history, keeping faithful to the noble traditions of Kakhetian winemaking, while adapting to modern methods to produce wines that would please the most refined, and discerning global palate.

Georgian food

Of course no Georgian wine tasting would be complete without some traditional Georgian food. I made several dishes including both Imeretian and Megruli khachapuri, a chicken salad, and my favorite Georgian starter: eggplant rolls with garlic walnut paste.

And now, the wines!

Chateau Mukhrani Goruli Mtsvane

Chateau Mukhrani Goruli Mtsvane 2014 Tasting Notes:

There are some dozen different grapes with the word Mtsvane in their names because in Georgian, Mtsvane just means “green.”  Many grapes are called Mtsvane Something, and typically the Something part of the name has to do with where the grape is from (or thought to be from).  Mtsvane Goruli (or Goruli Mtsvane) means “green from Gori,” which is a town in the Kartli region in the Caucasus mountains of south-central Georgia.  This and Mtsvane Kakhuri, which means “green from Kakheti” are the two most common varieties found.

We tasted the Chateau Mukhrani Goruli Mtsvane. Bright and fruity with white and yellow plums and citrus on the nose, the sur lie ageing add some depth of flavor while keeping the wine’s freshness and easy to drink nature.

Chateau Mukhrani Rkatsiteli

Chateau Mukhrani Rkatsiteli 2014 Tasting Notes:

Rkatsiteli is probably the most common white wine grape variety in Georgia; particularly in Kakheti. It is used to make everything from table wine to European-style wines, qvevri amber wines, and even fortified wines.

Like the Goruli Mtsvane above, the Chateau Mukhrani Rkatsiteli was also aged sur lie. Flavors of yellow and white plums, white mulberry, and citrus are highlighted by refreshing acidity. A warm finish hints at both the sur lie ageing and the depth of character of which this grape is capable.

Kondoli Rkatsiteli

Telavi Wine Cellar Kondoli Rkatsiteli 2011 Tasting Notes:

This Rkatsiteli from Telavi Wine Cellar was much more complex than the young and fresh version by Chateau Mukhrani. The wine was aged 70% in French barriques (35% new oak, 35% old oak) and 30% in stainless steel.  Fruity and aromatic, the nose is warm with the scents of apricots, white peach, melon, and toasted nut. Minerality balances the fruit on the palate keeping them fresh instead of saccharine and hints of hazelnuts and slight buttery finish from the oak give this Rkatsiteli some very interesting layers.

Telavuri Saperavi

Telavi Wine Cellar Telavuri Red Tasting Notes:

Unlike the other wines from the tasting, this wine from Telavi Wine Cellar is a non vintage blend from the winery’s Kakheti vineyards. Part of the winery’s table wine line, this dry red is a Saperavi-lead blend of local Georgian grape varieties. While not particularly complex its fruity aromas (largely black fruits like blackcurrants) and velvety texture make it perfectly quaffable.

Chateau Mukhrani Saperavi

Chateau Mukhrani Saperavi 2012 Tasting Notes:

The final wine of our tasting was the Chateau Mukhrani Saperavi 2012. More complex than the non vintage from Telavi Wine Celler, this Saperavi was aged 20% in French, American and Caucasian oak barrels after undergoing malolactic fermentation. A beguiling bouquet of black mulberry, blackberry and cherry tempt you to explore further while light florals, balsamic, and echoes of soft oak on the palate complete this wine’s seduction.

Kayra Cameo Sparkling Wine

Turkish sparkling wine is fairly new to the market. While previously there may have been one or two, it feels like the industry exploded with them over this spring and summer. Now you can find sparkling wine offered by a variety of producers including Vinkara, Pamukkale, Suvla, Kayra, and others.

Previously I posted about Leona Bubble, one of the two sparkling wines made by Kayra. The Kayra Cameo is a blend of the same grapes but is a higher-end version of the Bubble.

Cameo

The winery’s name is taken from the Turkish word “kayra” which means benevolence, grace, and kindness. A family endeavor, Kayra has two main bases in Turkey, one in Elazığ and one in Şarköy. The Elazığ winery in Eastern Anatolia was established in 1942, and the Şarköy winery in Thrace was established in 1996. With assistance from lead winemaker Daniel O’Donnell, Kayra produces an impressive 10 labels each with its own unique characteristics.

Leona Bubble

Part of the Kayra series, the Cameo is a well produced sparkling wine made in the tank, or charmat method. Unlike the traditional method (think Champagne), whereby wine goes through a second fermentation in the bottle to create bubbles; in the tank method the second fermentation happens in a large pressurized tank. The sparkling wine is then bottled and sealed.

I’ve had the pleasure of drinking Kayra’s Cameo several times now. In fact it formed the basis of a yacht-board wine tasting I hosted this summer! It doesn’t get much better than drinking sparkling wine while on a private Bosphorus cruise!

Cameo

Kayra Cameo Tasting Notes:

Like many sparkling wines, the Cameo is a non vintage-meaning it is a blend of wines harvested in different years. The blend includes Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Misket. Between the lovely flavor and the relatively low alcohol (11.5% abv) this is definitely a wine that is dangerously delicious!

The Cameo has a lovely aromatic nose filled with delicate fruits and cream. White peach, citrus (grapefruit particularly), and pineapple all vied for attention. Bubbles are fine and tight giving the wine a nice, frothy mouthfeel. It almost feels like the flavors of peach, lemon pith, blood orange, and grapefruit burst out of the bubbles as they dissipate on the tongue.

So far my favorite Turkish sparkling wine is the Cameo! While it seems that sparkling wine is often reserved for a special occasion at an average price of 99 TL the Cameo won’t break the bank if your special occasion is as simple as opening a good bottle of wine!

Late Harvest Urla Symposium 2015

Many people I know are turned off by the term: late harvest. “I don’t like dessert wine.” “It’s too sweet.” For many ‘late harvest’ means a wine that is syrupy sweet; but it doesn’t have to mean that at all. Late harvest wines can be super sweet, dry, and everything in between.

The late harvest Misket Urla Symposium is an excellent example. It is not a dessert wine but a lovely, light, semi-sweet. So if late harvest doesn’t automatically mean sweet wine; what does it mean?

Late harvest grapes are just that. They are grapes that have been left on the vine longer than a typical harvest (an additional one to two months). When grapes are left to hang like this they slowly begin to raisin. A concentrated “raisined” grape contains lower amounts of water and higher amounts of sugar. The resulting juices are therefore super concentrated in both sugar and flavor.

The must from late harvest grapes is then vinified. While this usually results in sweet wines, notably German Riesling and French Sauternes; it doesn’t have to be. Late harvest wines can be vinified completely dry. Wines made in this style will often be fuller in body and more intensely flavored than they would be had grapes been picked at the usual harvest time.

Now that the lesson in late harvest wines is over that leaves the question: where does the Urla Symposium fit? Somewhere in the middle but definitely on the sweet side of the fence.

Urla Symposium

Late Harvest Urla Symposium 2015 Tasting Notes:

The Urla Symposium is a late harvest Borovina Misket. Its pale color and relatively low alcohol (11.5% abv) provide the first indication of the wine’s overall elegance. The nose was what I’ve come to expect from Misket; but more so.  Intense honey and orange blossom saved from being overly sweet by an underlying zing of lively citrus.

The palate was restrained; like fragile, perfumed gossamer. Orange blossom, honey, and lemon curd gracefully twine just enough acid to keep the wine from tipping over the syrupy saccharine line. Sweet for certain and slightly thicker than standard Misket. A perfect sweet wine for those who like

Tanini Qvevri Mtsvane 2014

Tanini was one of my favorite winery finds at Tbilisi’s New Wine Festival this year. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get a bottle of their rose to bring home though. The Tanini Qvevri Mtsvane amber wine more than made up for any disappointment though!

Tanini is the brain child of Emzar Vasadze who makes traditional Georgian wines in Kakheti. Using only native grapes, he produces Saperavi, Tavkveri, Mtsvane, Rkatsiteli, Kisi, and Saperavi Rose wines; mostly in qvevri. Georgian wines, particularly qvevri wines, are knows for being pretty tannic and he took the name of his wine, Tanini, for that quality.

Tanini Qvevri Mtsvane

But wait, what are qvevri and amber wines? I am by no means an expert on Georgian wines and recommend checking out Exotic Wine Travel and Taste Georgia. In a nut shell though:

A qvevri (kve-vri) is an egg-shaped earthenware vessel used for making, ageing and storing the wine. They are made in all sizes with large wine producers using vessels large enough for a man to climb into. Usually they are buried in the ground. After pressing the grapes the juice, skins, stalks, and seeds are all poured into the qvevri which is sealed. In this style of wine making the cap is not punched down, nothing is stirred or messed around with. In a few months the seal is removed from the qvevri and the wine is siphoned out.

Amber wine, also known as orange wine, is kind of the reverse of a rose. Whereas rose wines are red wines made in the style of white wine; amber wines are white wines made like red wines. In short; they ferment for a time in contact with the grape skins (and seeds and sometimes stems). The more skin contact the wine has had, the darker amber (or orange) color the wine will achieve. While Georgia is possibly the most well-known for its amber wines; they are not the only ones who make them. You can find amber wines throughout the Balkans, north east Italy, and elsewhere.

Tanini Qvevri Mtsvane

Tanini Qvevri Mtsvane 2014 Tasting Notes:

You can see from the picture what a deep amber color this is. Mtsvane simply means “green” in Georgian and indeed the grapes are very green. So it takes some amount of skin contact to achieve this burnt orange color!

To me, qvevri amber wines always smell overwhelmingly of apple cider. Quite possibly because I grew up drinking fresh pressed, unpasteurized cider so that raw quality that Georgian amber wines have must prick a memory. The Tanini Qvevri Mtsvane had a lot of that aroma for me. I also detected peaches, peach skin, mineral, and a smokey something.

This is also an unfiltered wine meaning no finding took place to clarify the wine. While it’s got only 11% abv, the wine making style ensured that this still packs a big punch! It explodes in your mouth with massive, chewy tannins. Yeasty apple and peach flavors wrap around a solid acidic and mineral core. There’s not a lot of progression in this one; it’s a full attack from start to finish.

There’s a growing movement in the wine world, including Georgia, for “raw” wine. Raw wine takes organic wine making a step further. Basically the rule of thumb, as I understand it, is nothing extra in or out. It’s just the grape and what it brought with it. So no foreign yeasts to aid fermentation, only the yeast that lives naturally on the grape. No fining, no filtering, no manipulation of any sort is done. I believe that that Tanini followed that practice with this Mtsvane. However for me a better description of this particular wine would be not “raw” but “wild”.