The Republic of Georgia may be the oldest wine region in the world with evidence of wine being produced there 8000 years ago. The major grape in Georgia is Saperavi, a grape that makes very dark colored wines with high acidity. In addition to aging well, it thrives in cold temperatures which is why a few wineries in the Finger Lakes are growing it.
In tasting through hundreds of Finger Lakes wines only a few reds stood out and this was one of them. Aside from the occasional Pinot Noir or Cabernet Franc, red varietals are tough to ripen in their short growing season–if they survive the winter. There is lots of experimentation going on trying to find a red wine that will fill out their tasting menus next to the ubiquitous Riesling. I think Saperavi probably has the most potential of them all. Mcgregor Vineyard makes a Saperavi/Sereksiya Charni blend called Black Russian which is quite good but I enjoyed the more restrained elegance of the Standing Stone Reserve a bit more.
It’s very inky in the glass with complex, intriguing aromas of blackberry, toasted oak, damp leaves and eucalyptus prominent against subtle vanilla in the background. The concentrated dark fruit on the palate gives way to steely minerality that is really more prominent than fruit. Firmly textured, sinewy rather than supple, the incisive acidity carries all the way through the medium-length finish, giving it a pleasing, lifted, slightly edgy quality. The tannins are fine-grained and already well-integrated.
This is a linear wine—the flavors and textures establish themselves early and relentlessly push all the way through the finish without much evolution.
With a gentle oak treatment burnishing any rustic edges, it comes across as polished yet resolute and insistent.
When I dialed up this oldie from Massive Attack the wine settled into a buoyant groove in sympathetic resonance with the polished vocals and relentlessly repeated baseline. The broken synth and piano fills seemed to bring out the eucalyptus notes on the nose—a really scintillating pairing of music and wine.