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Possibly The Best QPR Wines In The World Today?

October 5, 2015 13 comments

Colors of the Chelsea MarketToday, I want to talk about wine and value. “Value” has an interesting meaning in the world of wine – may be as subjective as the concept of a “good wine” itself. To me, the value is not an absolute amount of money one paid for the bottle of wine – if you paid $3, but poured the bottle down the drain after half-finished first sip because it tasted terribly – was that still a “value”? Or was that a pure waste of money? By the same token, if the $20 bottle of wine gave you lots of pleasure in every tiniest drop (including the one you licked of the table), would that be a “good value”? Talking about the “value” of the wine, I prefer to use a proverbial term QPR, so happily adapted by the wine lovers – a Quality Price Ratio (this is what QPR stands for) conveys the “value” concept of wine a lot better than the sheer price itself.

One of the easiest and most straightforward ways to classify and analyze thousands and thousands of wines produced today in the world is by region, as wines from the same geographic area would typically have some similarities. Thinking about all the different wine producing regions in the world, which region do you think delivers the best QPR today? I’m really asking here to think about the region as a whole, rather then individual wines. Yes, you can find delicious Napa reds for $10, but this is rather an anomaly, as on average, you need to spend at least $25 – $30 for a good bottle, so we are definitely not talking about Napa here. Thus the question stands – what is your best QPR wine region in the world?

This question might be more difficult than it seems. Wine regions don’t stand still – they are constantly evolving. As the region becomes better known and more demanded, the price increase often accompanies this rise in popularity – which obviously affects the QPR. I used to consider Greek wines as a great QPR – but many Greek wines are now pushing the $30 boundary, while not consistent in quality – this immediately drives QPR down. I used to think of Israeli wines as a great value – but same thing is happening there, with lots of better wines moving north of $30, and wines under $20 been more of “hit and miss”. My next “go to” wines were Portuguese – but even here I now have a problem – wines under $20 are often only randomly tasty; wines at around $30 and up are consistently excellent, rivaling $100+ wines from the other regions, so in relative terms, they still offer a great value – but probably not the best QPR?

“Knowing what I know now”, the region which I think consistently delivers the best QPR at the moment (!) is Georgia – not the state down south in the US, of course, but an independent country. I always loved Georgian wines, but what prompted this broad statement about QPR was a recent Georgian Wine tasting I attended a week ago at Chelsea Market in New York. Wine after wine was delicious, and priced under $20 – that is a QPR I’m definitely happy about.

You don’t have to take my word for it – you should find a bottle of Georgian wine and try it for yourself. I really hope you did just that last Sunday, October 4th, as it was a #GeorgianWineDay in the social media – and if you actually had Georgian wine, I’m curious to know what it was. In any case, let me share the notes for the wines I tasted at the “Discover Georgia in New York” event at the colorful Chelsea Market. Below are the notes, using the “+” ratings. Pay attention to the prices and corresponding ratings – don’t know what you think, but I think the “QPR” is spelled very clearly across the full range of wines I tasted.

2013 Telavi Wine Cellar Marani Rkatsiteli Kakheti, Georgia ($10.99) – +++, very acidic, requires food
2013 Telavi Wine Cellar Marani Mtsvane-Kisi Kondoli Vineyards Kakheti, Georgia ($14.99) – +++, excellent, clean, lemon notes, touch of food


2013 Telavi Wine Cellar Marani Saperavi Kakheti, Georgia ($11.99) – +++, excellent, simple, an everyday wine, red fruit, crushed berries
2009 Telavi Wine Cellar Marani Red Kvareli Special Vicultural area, Kakheti, Georgia ($15.99) – ++++, beautiful, clean, great depth
2012 Telavi Wine Cellar Marani Saperavi Kondoli Vineyards Kakheti, Georgia ($18.99, 18 months in oak, starting from fermentation) – ++++, stunning! round and delicious

2007 Telavi Wine Cellar Marani Reserve SAPERAVI block Kondoli vineyards, Kakheti, Georgia ($70) – ++++1/2, off the charts, produced only in the best years, complex, round, delicious. Yes, it is $70, and it might be to expensive for an amazing QPR, but you should taste this wine first…


2006 Wineman Cabernet Sauvignon Kakheti, Georgia ($10.99) – ++++, wow!, pick of maturity, dark notes, concentrated – another wow!
2010 Wineman Ikhalto Red Kakheti, Georgia ($12.99, 50% Saperavi, 50% Cabernet Franc) – ++++, wow!, acidity, beautiful wine
2013 Wineman Kindzmarauli Special Viticultural Area Red Semi-Sweet Kakheti, Georgia (12% ABV, $15.99, 100% Saperavi)  – ++++, beautiful, perfectly balanced sweetness


2011 Shalvino Kardenakhi Special Viticultural Area Kakheti, Georgia (18% ABV, $18.99, Blend of Rkatsiteli, Khikhvi, Goruli and Mtsvane) – ++++, made using Solera method, delicious, Pedro Ximenez like with a delicate balance
2013 Telavi Wine Cellar Satrapezo Rkatsiteli Ice Wine Kakheti, Georgia (10% ABV, $29.99 500ml) – +++1/2, beautiful, perfect balance, not overly sweet


2013 Teliani Valley Tsinandali White Kakheti, Georgia ($12.99) – +++, great acidity
2012 Teliani Valley Special Vicultural area Kakheti, Georgia ($17.99) – +++, great acidity, perfect, food friendly


2013 Schuchmann Rkatsiteli White Kakheti, Georgia ($15.99) – +++, touch of sweetness, nice balance
2013 Schuchmann Saperavi Red Kakheti, Georgia ($15.99) – +++, perfect, clean, great balance


2012 Vinoterra Kisi Kakheti, Georgia (13% ABV, $NA, Qvevri fermentation, Oak maturation) – +++, complex, very intense, unusual, thought provoking

What do you think? I understand that QPR is subjective and relative term – first, you have to like the wine, and then everyone’s idea of “value” is different – but I was (once again) blown away by the quality and consistency of what I tasted – I didn’t skip a single wine, those are all the wines which were presented in the tasting. This would make it 16 wines out of 16, which I would gladly drink again. I hope it gives you good frame of reference for my experience.

Thinking about the wines of the world, what would be your top region for the best QPR? And if you tasted any of the Georgian wines, what is your opinion about them? Cheers!

Daily Glass: Wine Happenings – Georgian Wines, New French Discoveries, Australia Grand Experience and more

April 14, 2013 10 comments

Every week (or almost every week) I think that I should start writing a summary post similar to what Jeff at therunkenccyclist does so well – once a week he produces a summary of the wines he had during the past week (here is an example of his recent post), which I think is a great way to round up your experiences.

My “Daily Glass” designation was supposed to be [almost] a daily summary for me, but as you know, things don’t always work in life as we think they should. Nevertheless, the week which is ending today was very “wine eventful” hence I’m sharing those wine happenings with you.

Let me start from 2005 Domaine Lafage El Maset Cotes du Roussillon. I got it at Last Bottle Wines during their last “madness” sale. At $8, you really have nothing to lose, right? Wine arrived about 3 weeks ago, looking good – inviting label, heavy bottle, good punt at the bottom – overall looks quite solid. Before opened the bottle, I went to look for information online – and I didn’t find much except a number of notes on Cellar Tracker, all looking very peculiar. Looks like people  had very sporadic luck with this wine, with only one bottle out of three being drinkable, and another claim of one out of 10 (!).

First thing I didn’t like when opened the bottle was the cork. You see, I love real corks (yes, I had my share of corked wines – but this is not the subject of this post). I’m completely okay with screwtops – I would be surprised to see a screwtop on the bottle of DRC, but in general, I get it – and it makes it easier to open a bottle, especially when you travel. But the type of corks I have a problem with are plastic and synthetic corks. They are hard to pull out, and just look very artificial – they just don’t belong to the wine world, in my opinion. Besides, somehow I think that they have the worst  impact on aging ability of the wine .

This wine was closed with red plastic cork ( you can see it in the picture). Okay, moving along. It is 8 years old wine, how about pop and pour? Pour, swirl, sip – ouch! The feeling of biting into a freshly cut tree brunch. Bitterrrr! My wife had her taste, put the glass down, and politely said “I think it should breath a little first”. Okay, got a decanter, pour half of the bottle in. By the way, the interesting fact is that after that first bitter sip, the wine stayed in my mouth with a very long and rather pleasant (!) finish – probably for the next 10+ minutes. Two and the half hours later… I wish I can tell you the wine magically transformed – no, it became only somewhat better. Dark fruit appeared, tannins became mellower, but the wine was not together – there was no harmony there.

We finished the bottle next day, and it still didn’t improve much more – may be it needed more time? I’m not sure, but I have one more bottle, which I plan to give a little time – will see what will happen. But I also have to tell you that I had one of the most surprising pairings with this wine – as you can guess from the picture, this wine paired excellently (I’m serious) with … cherry preserve! They were literally meant for each other – take a spoon of cherry preserve, sip of this wine – perfect! I never thought of wine and preserve together before – may be I should try it more often? This wine will stay unrated for now, as it is very hard to put a handle on this experience.

DSC_0391 Clos ChanteducNext wine was also sourced from the Last Bottles – 2006 Clos Chanteduc Cotes Du Rhone. I was unable to find good information on this 2006 vintage, current available vintage of this wine is 2010, but I would assume that  the composition stayed about the same, so it should be Grenache/Syrah blend (2/3 Grenache, 1/3 Syrah), a classic Rhone blend. The wine is associated with Patricia Wells, a well known chef living in France. While looking for information about this wine, I found an interesting post about 2009 version in the blog called Wayward Wine – here is a link for you, it is a good reading. Getting back to this 2006 wine, it was rather a typical Cote du Rhone – soft, supple, good mid-palate of plums and cherries – but may be too soft and too supple, it was missing a wow factor. Drinkability: 7.

DSC_0393 Jermann Sauvignon BlancThe next wine I want to mention is 2008 Jermann Sauvignon Blanc Venezia Giulia IGT. Jermann is one of my all time favorite Italian producers – I don’t think I tasted any wines I didn’t like from Jermann. This Sauvignon Blanc was closed with screwtop, and the wine is 5 years old – but it came out clean and round on the palate, with perfect amount of white fruit, some herbal notes, perfect minerality and acidity – very enjoyable by itself and with the food. Drinkability: 8-

Now, let’s get to the subject of this post and talk about Georgian and new French wines I discovered.  Last Friday I stopped at  the tasting at Fairway Market in Stamford, where Michael from importing company called Corus was presenting new Georgina wines.  There were four wines included in the tasting, three of them definitely standouts.

2012 Marani Mtsavane is made out of 100% of indigenous Mtsvane grape – very dry, more reminiscent of Muscadet than anything else, with cutting acidity. Will be perfectly refreshing wine for the summer day, also will be very appropriate every time you will decide to serve oysters. Drinkability: 7+

2005 Wine Man Mukuzani – this wine is made out of 100% Saperavi grapes, also grown in one single place – village of Mukuzani. This wine is made by David Maisuradze, who makes amazing wines – here is my post mentioning couple of his wines I tasted before. When I took a first sip, my first  thought was about dramatic difference this wine had with the 2005 El Maset I just had a few days ago (both wines are from 2005) – silky smooth, perfect dark fruit, cherries, blackberries, round tannins and balancing acidity – overall, a wine of perfect harmony. Drinkability: 8

2009 Wine Man Kinzmarauli – Kindzmarauli is one of the most famous Georgian wines. Because it was so famous before, you can’t even imagine the amount of fake insipid concoction which arrived to US about 10-15 years ago, knowing that Russian ex-patriots will buy anything under that name. When people realized that they had been doped, the wine lost its appeal and now have to slowly work up its reputation. Kindzmarauli is also made out of 100% Saperavi grapes, but it is semi-sweet. The fake Kindzmarauli wines had nothing but the sugar in them. When you taste this 2009 Kindzmarauli, you actually first get the perfect dry grape underpinning, and then the residual sweetness comes in. Excellent wine to serve with cheese – I think it might even beat Port when served next to Stilton. Drinkability: 8-

Now, for my French discovery  – it might not be a discovery for you, but it is a new line of wines which are just being imported to Connecticut. The wines are made by Domaine Laroque in the area called Cité de Carcassonne, a part of Langueoc-Rossillion (Cité de Carcassonne has a status of IGP).

2012 Domaine Laroque Sauvignon Blanc Cite de Carcassonne – in a blind tasting, I would definitely say that this is a restrained version of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Perfectly bright, with hint of grapefruit and lemon zest, refreshing, uplifting – make sure you have enough on hand for your summer entertainment – or you will deal with some upset guests. Drinkability: 8-

2012 Domaine Laroque Rose de Cabernet Cite de Carcassonne – nice, clean Rose, good amount of strawberries, good acidity. Drinkability: 7

2011 Domaine Laroque Cabernet Franc Cite de Carcassonne – this was a “wow” wine. Cabernet Franc is one of my favorite single-grape wines, which are so hard to find. This is two notches up most of the Loire stuff – I guess it is much closer to the best of Bordeaux and Calidornia – prefect dense red fruit, good minerality and herbs, firm structure, supple tannins and overall very balanced. This is what I call a “dangerous wine” – once you start drinking it, it is almost impossible to stop. Drinkability: 8

Are you tired of me yet? Okay, good – I have two more wines to tell you about.

DSC_0395 Sarah's Vineyard2001 Sarah’s Vineyard Chardonnay Estate Reserve Santa Clara Valley – I got it as Bin Ends in Massachusetts last year. The unfortunate part – this wine was past prime. Well, it was more like a nice sherry – dark yellow color, nicely oxidized. I was able to finish the bottle, but this was not an amazing experience by all means. Mostly you could taste almonds, and that was about all you could find on the palate. I will not rate this wine as it would be simply not fair.

Last, but not least at all – an amazing Aussie experience.

1999 Grant Burge Shadrach Cabernet Sauvignon South Australia – from the very first smell, the expectation was that a “wow” wine is ahead. Perfect dark fruit on the nose, a whiff of chocolate. And the very first sip confirmed that “wow” – blackberries, cherries  and cassis, dark chocolate, cocoa, eucalyptus, touch of roasted flavors, perfectly firm and structured. Pronounced acidity, supporting tannins – all perfectly balanced. This was an outstanding glass of wine (it was my one and only bottle, sigh). By the way, you should read an interesting story behind the name of this wine – I don’t want to retype it, hence the picture of the back label below.Drinkability: 8+

That’s all I have for you for today. What was your best wine experience of the week? Have a great week ahead and cheers!

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