The grape saperavi is so dark in color it’s called black in Georgian, according to producer Pheasant’s Tears. During the last few years I have tasted quite a few saperavi wines, and the colour varies from very deep, dark red to opaque black. This one is probably the Georgian saperavi most widely found outside its homeland.
Georgia has a 8.000 year long unbroken history of fermenting and ageing the wines in qvevri, big clay vessels lined with beeswax and buried under the ground, where the temperature is stable. All Pheasant’s Tears’ wines are made according to this tradition, and with a low-interventional approach.
As pointed out in many blogposts I appreciate this way of making wine, without any oak to disturb the natural flavours of the grape. One could also say that the way the beeswax is treated, or whether it is applied at all, is also a topic (and a discussion too long for this post), but generally speaking clay is more respectful to the grape than wood.
Pheasant’s Tears is found in the Kakheti region. Here in the eastern part of the country, besides the snow-covered Caucasus, the family of winemaker Gela Patalishvili has been making wine for more than 8 generations. In summer there is more than 14 hours of sunlight a day, and the evenings are cooled down by the breezes from the mountains. The soil has limestone, chalk and dark clay over sandy loam mixed with gravel, that gives good drainage.
Though the family has been farmers for a long time it was only in 2007, when American John Wurdeman joined forces, that the modern company came to being, and 2009 was the first vintage to be bottled.
The must underwent a spontaneous fermentation, 10 days maceration with skins, and the finished wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered. Just a slight amount of SO2 (10 mg) was added before bottling.
Saperavi 2013 (Pheasant’s Tears)
Black as ink, as a november night, dense. Ink, peppery, raisiny aroma. In spite of the black colour saperavi wines are often juicy, grapey, with not at all the extremely powerful body and tannin structure as indicated by the colour, nor a very long aftertaste. This one is just like that, surprisingly drinkable. Highly personal, deliciously different!
Food: Lamb, pig, fowl and game. Try with mature, hard cheeses