This is my first Chkhaveri. And first wine from Adjara too. It is good. Initially, it has a bright and beautiful lift. Red and purple fruits, the brightness follows through on to the palate and builds on the finish. This is one of the most easy-going Georgian red I’ve had, although the other two I tasted with it were close rivals. Drink it now, and enjoy the freshness. With a few days open, the nose stays but some of the aldehydes on the finish really pick up in intensity. Was paired with manchego and did a good job at that.
Pheasant’s Tears is a project of John Wurdeman and Gela Patilishvili. Producing organically farmed, natural wines from Georgian varieties. All of their wines are made in qvevri. The earthenware jars buried entirely in the ground used for fermentation and storage up until bottling in accordance with ancient Georgian winemaking traditions. They focus on rare varietals such as Tavkvevri, Shavkapito and Tsolikouri (amongst many) and preserving an expression of unique terroir. They even make a grape archivist’s dream blend from 400 different varieties.
First of all, this is one of the oldest wine regions in the world. 8000 years ago the world’s first cultivated grapevines and wine production was in the South Caucasus Georgian wine regions of note including Kakheti, Kartli, Imereti, Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti, and Abkhazia. Of particular note in Georgian wine is the extensive use of native varieties and the use of Kvevri.
While the wines of Georgia require a re-calibration of your palate and thinking. But the rewards a great for those with an open mind.
Qvevri or Kvevri
Also known as churi. Large egg-shaped, handleless earthenware vessels used for the fermentation, storage and ageing of traditional Georgian wine. They are either buried below ground or set into the floors of large wine cellars. Volumes range from 20 litres to a rather large 10,000 with 800 being the typical size.
Grows in western Georgian planted near the Black Sea coast in Adjara, Guria, and Imereti. Chkhaveri originally was a vine trained to grow up trees. Growing Chkhaveri seems to be a bit like Pinot Noir, it needs a specific site and lots of careful attention. It grows particularly well on cooler, south-facing hillsides with limestone soils. The bunches are small and thin, but can be dense with one wing; yields are small. Unlike Pinot, Chkhaveri ripens quite late, it can reach very high sugar levels and retain its acidity. Chkhaveri wines have vibrant colour and perfume. Red berries and baking spices.