Friday, December 18, 2015

Alaverdi Monastery Cellar Rkatsiteli
Alaverdi Monastery Cellar Rkatsiteli 2010
Kakheti, Republic of Georgia

Last year I had the pleasure of visiting the Alaverdi Monastery in the eastern region of the Republic of Georgia. The monks here have been making wine since the 11th century, using ancient methods of wine production -- fermentation in clay pots (called Qvevri) buried in the ground.

Alaverdi Monastery

I brought this particular bottle back with me from my visit! It is made from Rkatsiteli grapes in the traditional method: fermented with stems and skin in Qvevri for 3 to 6 months. This produces an amber colored with full of tannic grip and rich flavor.

In Georgia, these skin fermented white wines are called "amber" wines. The rest of the world seems to be calling them "orange" wines. I shall bow to peer pressure and also call them orange.

Tasting at the Monastery
Review: This Rkatsiteli has a deep orange color with hints or amber. It has complex aromas of ripe apricot, sweet fruit cocktail, honey, earthy minerals, and an odd mature note of dusty book jacket. On the palate it's dry with moderate acidity and grippy, slightly astringent tannin. While the apricot and honey notes are still present on the palate, I find myself tasting much more savory notes of dried thyme and washed cheese rind.  The finish is medium in length. 

This is probably the best made orange wine I've had. There is a clear interplay between the fresh fruit and savory sides of the wine, all set upon a bright, yet slightly astringent backdrop. Particularly with food...

Food Pairing: Roast pork with lemon and thyme. This will play up the brightness and herby quality in the wine, and play well with the earthiness.

Bottom Line: Complex and compelling. Not necessarily an everyday wine for me, but definitely something I'm happy to have experienced.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2010
  • PLACE: Kakheti, Georiga
  • GRAPE: Rkatsiteli
  • BOOZE: 13%
  • CELLAR: Drink Now through 2020

Where did I get it? Alaverdi Monastery Tasting Room
What's the damage? High Priced

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