If I were to ask you if you would like a glass of Kisi, Saperavi, Kindzmarauli, Khvanchkara or Tvishi you would probably look at me a little strange. Last week I was asked, by Vic Herstein of All Corked Up (ACU), to sample some wines from the Republic of Georgia. Greg Alonzo and Doug Lexa of Terrel Wines were there to pour some of these very unique and different wines at the Wednesday night ACU wine tasting.
The Republic of Georgia lies between the Black and Caspian Seas and borders on Turkey, Russia and Armenia. Many archaeologists believe that this is the location where the first cultivated grapevines and neolithic wine production began over 7000 years ago.
Through various archaeological findings, it has been discovered that winemaking was at a very advanced state long before Christ was born. The majority of these wines were used during various religious ceremonies with the beginning of Christianity at the start of the 4th Century. In the 11th Century, further advancements in winemaking provided noted improvements in the wines from these regions. These advancements included stone and wooden wine presses and large double-walled clay jugs known as Kvevri. The Kvevri is buried in the ground providing better temperature control of the wine must (grape juice and skins) during the fermentation process. Some of these clay jugs are huge in dimensions holding up to 1,000 gallons.
When the grapes are crushed, the juice, skins and stems are all placed into the Kvevri. The “must” is then stirred frequently during the fermentation process. Once the fermentation process has been completed, the wine is transferred to oak barrels for aging.
Tasting the wines from the Republic of Georgia was very interesting. Most were dry to the palate much like one would find in French style wines. I wanted to say old world style except my perspective has changed on what is old world due to the fact the wines from the Republic of Georgia date back to a time before Christ was born. This is something to think about when you are opening a French Bordeaux or Italian Barolo and ask yourself, “Are they really old world?”
What I liked (for my palate) was that they were not overly extracted fruit bombs like the wines from the Paso Robles region of California. The flavors did not linger for an extended amount of time on the palate, but presented a very nice approach for a wine. Just like French and Italian wines, they are not high in alcohol content. Greg mentioned that a good goat cheese would really highlight some of these wines. I look forward to trying these wines again with a selection of cheeses.
Below is the list and descriptions of the ones that the fine folks from Terrell Wines shared with us.
Teliani Valley (Estate grown)
· 2007 Tsolikouri (Dry White) – 100% Tsolikouri grape
· 2007 Saperavi (Dry Red) – 100% Saperavi grape
Mildiani (Estate grown)
· 2006 Katsiteli (Dry White) – 80% Rkatsiteli and 20% Mtsvane grapes
· 2005 Saperavi (Dry Red) – 100% Saperavi grape
Vinoterra (Estate grown)
· 2007 Tsinandali (Dry White) – 80% Rkatsiteli and 20% Mtsvane grapes
· 2003 Saperavi (Dry Red) – 100% Saperavi grape
· Classic Brut & Classic Extra Dry (Sparkling) – 40% Chinuri, 40% Tsitska and 20% Mtsvane
· Reserve (Sparkling) – 50% Chinuri, 30% Tsitska and 20% Mtsvane
· Royal Cuvee (Sparkling) – 100% Chinuri
The opportunity and experience of trying such unique wines has inspired me to look for other wines from this region. Think of how much fun it would be to have some of your wine friends over for a steak dinner and pour them a glass of Saperavi. It would be the highlight of the night. As I always tell my Grape of the Night folks, expand your horizons. There are many different and fantastic wines to try. Be bold, give them a try, they may surprise you.
Sure, I enjoy drinking wine. That’s pretty obvious.
But the best experiences always involve more than just wine.
Best of all are romantic dinners with my wife.
But next are those times when wine serves as a great accompaniment to the people you’re with, the food you are eating, and the conversations and camaraderie that result. Plus, as an added bonus, when there are more people in attendance, it is an opportunity to try more than just one wine.
Last Saturday night we were at All Corked Up. Not a big surprise as you’ll usually find us there on either Friday or Saturday evening. But, when wine buyer Vic Herstein has his band Vic Rocks playing, you can almost guarantee that we will be there, usually with a group of friends.
This time there were nine of us, and over the next five-plus hours we enjoyed the band, the food, the conversation and, of course, the wine. Some of the wine highlights:
2005 Turley Hayne Zinfandel
2005 Haywood Los Chamizal Vineyard Zinfandel
2005 Carlisle Pietro’s Ranch Zinfandel
2005 Marquis Philips Grail of Lisa Shiraz
2005 Schubert Goose Yard Shiraz
For the white-wine drinkers, we had a Spatlase [sorry, I did not get the name] and a bottle of Four Vines Naked Chardonnay.
Later in the week, we met some dear friends of ours at Malbec, an Argentinean restaurant in Pasadena. We had not gotten together in several months and we had a lot to talk about — 4 hours worth actually! The food was great, and after empanadas, some grilled seafood, and possibly the best skirt steak I had ever had, we wondered where the time went. To accompany the meal we had two Carlisle Zinfandels, both from the 2006 vintage — one from the Carlo’s Ranch vineyard and the other from Rossi Ranch, as well as a Trapiche Malbec.
Finally, Thursday night was the barbecue at All Corked Up. Sponsored by Barbecues Galore, there were enough propane-burning machines there to make Hank Hill swoon. This time, we went by ourselves. The response had been so great that seats had to be assigned, so we entrusted our evening to Jennifer Russell, who, as always, did a fabulous job putting this event together. And, Jennifer could not have done a better job in selecting our table-mates and, now, new friends. Another long evening with wonderful conversation, terrific food, and the great music of the band Acoustic Soul. [Unfortunately, we didn’t stay for the final set, when Vic sat in for “White Room” and “Mustang Sally”.] Before we got to know our dining companions, we had started with a bottle of 2006 Outpost Zinfandel, which we gladly offered a pour of to our new friends. We also tried their Nickel & Nickel Zinfandel. Then, I pulled a bottle of 2006 Shane Syrah out of the locker. More wine was being shared as well. At some point during the evening, my new friend Chuck commented to me that wine always tastes better when you are drinking it with the right people, which is what I’ve been trying to say in this article.
“I have been joking with Eve for years,” stated Guy Lelarge owner of Valencia Wine Company. “People think she works here already because she writes about all of our local wine bars and their events with such passion…why not watch her sweat a little?” And to this, Eve has already prepped the readers of her blog, Eve’s Wine 101, the West Ranch Beacon, and subscribers to her Dear Wine Friend newsletter with this teaser: “I could be your sommelier, your waitress, your lackey! But it will be a quiet weeknight because, well, I’ve got to have time to drink while I work.”
If you would like to support the fundraiser, and are unable to attend, you may send your tax-deductible donation to the UUofSCV, PO Box 800028, Santa Clarita, CA 91380, with the words Eve’s Wine 101 in the memo line.
So, first of all, back up. When you approach a tasting table be cognisant of any lines behind you. Even though it is best to taste the entire line up offered, and talk to the winery representative (Rep), you may have to back up and return to the table if others are waiting. The Rep doesn’t want to lose the crowd while you turn to your friend to discuss the wine. You can also just taste, and pour out quickly, if you want to keep moving. The goal isn’t to be plastered at the first table; it’s to learn and start discerning the differences in the wines offered.
Start to finish:50 min
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2/3 plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
2/3 cup Vin Santo or other sweet wine
1 1/4 cups seedless red grapes (7 oz)
a jumbo/Texas muffin pan with 6 large (6- to 8-oz) cups (see cooks’ note, below)
Whisk together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Beat butter with 2/3 cup granulated sugar using an electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in zest.
Add flour mixture in 2 batches alternately with wine, beginning and ending with flour and mixing until just incorporated.
Divide batter among muffin cups. Sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbsp granulated sugar. Bake until golden and springy to the touch, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes, then loosen with a knife and remove. Cool to warm, 5 to 10 minutes more.
Photograph by Romulo Yanes
Sunday, September 27, 2009
1:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Town Center Drive at the Westfield Valencia Town Center, Valencia
Stroll along Town Center Drive in Valencia as participating restaurants, retailers and wine stores feature wine tastings, food and musical entertainment. Sheila R. Veloz Breast Imaging Center will receive proceeds from this annual event help support breast cancer awareness and detection.
Admission: $40 in advance; $50 day of the event. Tickets are available online at http://www.sigscv.org/ or by mail. Send a check to SIGSCV, Attention: Sheryl Geraci, P.O. Box 801352, Santa Clarita, CA 91380-1352. For more information, email Rose Chegwin at Rose.Chegwin@delwestusa.com or by phone at (661)803-9202
Raffle available day of the event, $50/ticket. Only 300 tickets will be available.
Additional Food & Wine Generously Provided By:
Christine Day & Bruce Atkinson
Ino Alvarez y su Descarga Cubana
Done Away with Faye
Nuts & Bolts
Title Sponsor: Secure Horizons
Barrel Club Sponsors: SCV Bank
Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital
Aerie Financial Group
California United Bank
Steven B. Chegwin, CPA
Old Republic Title Company
American Craftsmen Restoration
Media Sponsors: Magazine of Santa Clarita
### KHTS AM-1220
Let me start out by saying that, as a rule, I don’t attend events that use tasting tickets, for a couple of reasons. I find them awkward to deal with and I actually tend to consume more wine than I might ordinarily do, as I am more tempted to finish the entire pour. I much prefer being able to taste [not drink] as many wines as possible which really helps to expand my knowledge [and enjoyment]. I am sure the people who run these festivals have reasons for choosing one format over the other.
That being said, the Trump National Wine & Beer Festival was being held on Sunday, August 16th at the Trump National Golf Course in Rancho Palos Verdes, a magnificent property right on the water and also right near my wife’s side of the family. And, as ticketed events go, it was fairly reasonable, at $20 for ten tastes.
A lot of tasty wine was being poured by wineries and distributors such as:
The above is just a partial list. My particular favorites were: Qupe Syrah — Always a quality product. Cline Cellars — Their Zins and Syrahs were what got me into these varietals in the first place many years ago and it was good to see they have not lost their touch. Clos Solene — An outstanding Roussane from Paso Robles. I also very much enjoyed meeting Carla King-Keiser from Free Run Juice, LLC. She represents several wineries and I really enjoyed the Syrahs she was pouring from Malm and Quixote. Finally, I want to mention the band that was playing while we were there — Heartless. I think they are primarily a Heart tribute band, but they threw in a lot of other artists as well, including some really spot on Janis Joplin. We ended up having a very nice time. Now if they could just do something about those tickets.
Cheateau Ste Michelle
Derby Wine Estates
The above is just a partial list.
My particular favorites were:
Qupe Syrah — Always a quality product.
Cline Cellars — Their Zins and Syrahs were what got me into these varietals in the first place many years ago and it was good to see they have not lost their touch.
Clos Solene — An outstanding Roussane from Paso Robles.
I also very much enjoyed meeting Carla King-Keiser from Free Run Juice, LLC. She represents several wineries and I really enjoyed the Syrahs she was pouring from Malm and Quixote.
Finally, I want to mention the band that was playing while we were there — Heartless. I think they are primarily a Heart tribute band, but they threw in a lot of other artists as well, including some really spot on Janis Joplin.
We ended up having a very nice time. Now if they could just do something about those tickets.