Taking A Vacation With Wine
For this week’s wines, we head across the ocean for some unexpected, delicious surprises.
If you’ve decided to stick around New York City (or wherever you are) for the holidays, it doesn’t mean you still can’t imagine yourself in the European country side, cozied up in a farmhouse with wine from the vineyards. Even if you are thousands of miles away, the great thing about a bottle of wine is that it can transport you exactly to the site of where the grapes were grown, harvested, and bottled.
For this week’s collections of wines, we didn’t necessarily have a theme in mind so much as a spirit of adventure, sending us to Italy, Austria, and Georgia. In these countries we tasted a Ramato wine, which combines the flirty lift of rosé with skin contact bite; a red that brought on the funk but balanced it with vibrant fruit and comforting spices; and an orange wine that had our palettes intrigued for days after opening the bottle.
Château Khashmi is located roughly 20 miles from Tbilisi in Georgia, which has some of the oldest winemaking practices in the world, dating back thousands of years. Rkatsiteli is a native Georgian grape that is known for its high alcohol content and acidity, which is typically offset with some sugar from late harvests.
Khashmi’s Rkatsiteli is a skin contact version that is aged in Qvevri to help regulate the temperature throughout the process. As far as skin contact wines go, this vintage has a classic deep straw colored hew in the glass. On the palette, however, there is a lot of power and mystery present. Spices on the nose give way to a richer palette with generous tannic grip balanced out by lovely acidity and a touch of sweetness from dried fig and apricots notes. Into the mid-palette, vegetal qualities intermix with a welcome sapidity into a long finish.
Overall the wine is quite flavorsome but it also retains its elegance, even four days after opening.
This collaboration between Italian wine industry stalwarts Armonia and Andrea Marchetti is a 100% Pinot Grigio wine done in the Ramato style. Though Ramato wine is not well known in the US, it continues to gain ground worldwide from its origins Friuli, balancing qualities from rosé and skin contact styles into a pleasing end product.
Here we have a pinkish hue in the glass with berries and funky hints on the nose. On the palette, things are quite delicate with dry raspberry notes, apple skins and mildly tannic qualities. However, the wine is not at all crunchy or vegetal as you might expect from a skin contact expression. As things progress, a balanced minerality develops into a finish where the fruits subtly re-emerge.
All in all this is a vintage that will convert those who say they’re not a fan of orange wines. It’s fruity and delicate but also packed with those contemplative notes you’d expect from something with a bit of aging on the skins.
For our last wine of the week we head to Austria and to Claus Preisinger, for whom you might know better as the Puszta Libre! winemaker. Here, in a structured blend of Zweigelt, Blaufränkisch, and Merlot, he manages to capture a more serene but no less delicious vision of natural Austrian wine.
On the first pour, you notice a deep purple, which is almost inky in the glass. This is an intensely alive wine, so notes of barnyard funk and wet earth emerge on the nose. The palette is quite exciting with juicy black currant and a tinge of sweet cherry mixing with a licorice kick. As the wine builds, a warming and woodsy spice builds, providing a more comforting and settled quality to an otherwise lively tasting.
Overall this is lean and balanced but it also possesses a nice structural weight. We’d recommend enjoying it the day of and not waiting until a second day when the mousy notes start to become much more noticeable.