Recent research has traced winemaking in the Republic of Georgia back to 6000 BCE making it one of the oldest wine-producing regions on earth. Rkatsitelli is the most popular white wine grape in the Republic of Georgia so it very well might be related to the earliest grapes known to humankind. Significant plantings in Russia and Eastern Europe make it one of the most common white varietals in the world. Yet it is seldom grown here in the U.S. There is some minor acreage planted in the Finger Lakes where Dr. Constantin Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellars has the best known bottling. By chance I stumbled upon Brushy Creek Vineyards, a small but excellent winery about 1 hour north of Dallas, who also makes wine from this ancient grape.
The varietal has a reputation for being simple and rustic. Its chief advantages are that it survives cold winters and maintains acidity during hot summers. But Brushy Creek’s version, although true to type, is distinctive and is an argument for this varietal occupying its own niche in the kingdom of white wines. Only slightly less voluptuous than Gewurztraminer or Viognier, it’s notable for its textural density and complex finish.
Bruised apple, hints of tangerine, quince paste and, with aeration, wet hay have sufficient intensity to give the wine interest on the nose. Dry extract provides layered textures and a pleasing coarseness suggesting there might have been a bit of skin contact in the wine making. It’s quite minerally and crisp with a finish that moves through a bitter phase before closing with refreshing salinity.
Winemaker/owner Les Constable is one of the pioneers of Texas wine having started growing wine grapes in 1991. In addition to Rkatsiteli he makes outstanding Tannat, Mourvedre and several Tempranillos. For wine lovers in North Texas Brushy Creek is worth a stop
This Rkatsiteli has a gritty, bohemian complexity, acerbic, sardonic and thus well matched with Elvis Costello’s Alison.
Price: $25 (purchase here)