I really should tease the reader before getting to the Russian wine…but what the hey. The first wine is from the Republic of Georgia which is an ancient land with tremendous pride. I am posting the flag in case someone should get the wrong impression.
Kindzmarauli Kahketi Region NV$16: The wine was a gift from an associate(Georgian NOT Russian of course) who wanted to impress with a wine from the motherland. “I guarantee you have never had this wine”. I did find it on the web as Georgian Royal Collection Kindzmarauli, naturally semi-sweet wine, 100% Saperavi varietal, from the Kindzmarauli microzone of the Kvareli area in the Kakheti region, Republic of Georgia. It has a distinguishable varietal bouquet, intense aroma, harmonious and velvety flavor”. It is from an historical wine growing region in Georgia’s Tusheti mountains and it is semi-sweet. 11% alcohol which is always commendable. The important point is that the sugar content of the wine is not enhanced. Is it late-harvested like a Primitivo? Dried on straw mats in the Tushetian sun like an Amarone ? A wikipedia entry claims Georgia is the “birthplace of wine” and the oldest wine producing region in Europe. Hold that correcting thought…Georgian wine apparently has neolithic roots (~7,000 years). We tasted this wine in granite goblets served with braised Mastodon. The missus did a nice job on the hairy relative of the elephant, a little tough from the retreating glaciers. The wine gave semi-sweet cheer to a generally hostile environment as we huddled around a fire shielded in a Kodiak bear’s jawbone. Not a terribly long finish in a terribly long night. Yzumitelno!!
2004 Chinon Les Chiens-Chiens $15: Bought at K&L Wine Merchant. Cabernet Franc from the best known region in France for this grape. These wines stand in sharp contrast to California Cabernet Franc which is the source for my cab franc wine knowledge. The most famous cab franc is Bordeaux’s Cheval Blanc which Miles downs with a burger in Sideways. [ed. Link goes to Miles dissing a Paso Robles cab franc!]. The vintage was 1961 which furthers the inside joke to wine snobs. Chinon is in the Loire Valley southwest of Paris (see map link below). I am learning these Old World Chinon wines are quite different than New World versions. California Cab Franc wines often a clear bittersweet chocolate flavor like 65% cacao bar. Chinon wines are more like 90% bittersweet. Almost dirty, earthy, dry. The fruit is there but needs time to emerge. I will not open these wines (I have a few in the cellar) until June. With BBQ skirt steak. Expect to be tasting more Chinons in 2008. 13.5%
2005 Chateau Champ des Soeurs Fitou Bel Amant $15: I have not run out of wines to review. Yes, this wine was reviewed in September. Six months later it still rocks. Now I have the labels. A Becky Wasserman Selection which is always a good place to begin. 60% Grenache then Syrah then Mourvedre. Yummm-meeee. Wonderful balance. On the flavor spectrum think of the Fitou as the mid point between jammy Cal wines and dry Chinon wines. We liked this one a lot and will return to get more.
2002 Beaune Vignes-Franches Premier Cru Domaine Chateau de Chorey~$35: Wasn’t this special? Premier Cru vineyard outside the town of Beaune. Chateau de Chorey is a top producer. This is Red Burgundy at its price/quality best. Delicate nose. Cherry and game-y flavors. Light to middle in eight. All tannins resolved and gone. Showing very nicely for 5 years. Just perfect with the glazed plum chicken. 13.5%. Not a U20 but a very worthwhile O20 that defines wine intelligence. Excellent wine.