A blog devoted to exploring wines made from unusual grape varieties and/or grown in unfamiliar regions all over the world. All wines are purchased by me from shops in the Boston metro area or directly from wineries that I have visited. If a reviewed bottle is a free sample, that fact is acknowledged prior to the bottle's review. I do not receive any compensation from any of the wineries, wine shops or companies that I mention on the blog.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tbilisuri - Medium Dry Rkatsiteli

This is the last article on rkatsiteli this year. Early next year, I'll be discussing a very interesting version from New Jersey, but until then, there will be a few posts concerning other varietals from other corners of the world.

This bottle has me a bit vexed. I can't really find any good information about this particular style. It isn't mentioned at all in Wines and Cognacs of Georgia and the brief blurb about it on Wikipedia is not helpful in the least. According to Wikipedia, Tbilisuri is a semi-dry pink wine made from saperavi, cabernet sauvignon and rkatsiteli. I can certainly tell you that that description is way off in describing the bottle I tried (pictured at left: the Marani/Telavi Wine Cellars offering, NV). My bottling was, I believe, 100% rkatsiteli and was definitely a white wine. I bought it for $10 at Bazaar in Brookline, which is where I go for most of my Georgian wine needs. My best guess is that Tbilisuri indicates that the wine is made somewhere around the Georgia capital of Tbilisi, but aside from that, I really don't have a lot of information on this bottle.

In the glass it had a yellow straw color that was closing in on gold with a full glass. The nose was a little shy, as many of these Georgian examples have been. I picked up on some green melon and lemon cream aromas, but they weren't exactly jumping out of the glass. On the palate, the wine is medium bodied and semi-sweet. The most glaring defect of the wine is apparent as soon as the wine hits your tongue: the acid is shockingly low here. Rkatsiteli tends to be a pretty high-acid grape, but in this bottle, it's almost completely absent. This is a big drawback in a wine with some sweetness to it, as the sugar just overwhelms the palate and the wine feels big and clunky in the mouth. The major reason that grapes like chenin blanc and riesling can take a bit of residual sugar is that the wine has a nice acid streak to keep it in balance. Acid in white wine is akin to tannin in a red wine; it's the structure that the other flavors really hang onto.

It's a shame, too, as the palate was layered and complex. There were flavors of orange cream, canteloupe, honeysuckle, candied lemon peel, white peach and mandarin orange wedges. It had a lingering finish composed mostly of canned mandarin oranges. I'm undecided about whether that's a good thing or not. I couldn't finish the bottle, though, as the lack of balance was so pronounced. If you don't mind drinking syrup straight out of the bottle, this wine might be for you, but otherwise, I'd give it a fairly wide berth and try one of the many other versions of rkatsiteli available.

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