Tuesday 15 August 2017

High on acid | Tavkveri 2016

It’s July and we’re back in Georgia, the three of us sitting on steps very hot, talking about the cold. About how bare it was on the way to Pheasant's Tears in March and how in Kasbegi there’d been snow. But now the cicadas are burring in the sun grasses and the cold airport floor on which we’d slept our only hour in 30 is nothing more than a rumple in my corduroys and we wash our faces and go.

Vino Underground thank god hasn’t changed but it feels like we have: how instead of just a guess at what we’d like to drink, ours was now an educated one. We select six and tell Natia no tasting now, see you later, these are for while the sun is still on.

Tbilisi is also different. The stark streaming sunlight of March is softer, and the little produce hole-in-the-wall stalls that line the streets, fuller. Liberty Square (or Freedom Sq., it seems to go by both) is full of tourists making plans in languages you can understand, the Georgians now sitting on the steps they seemed always to be sweeping when it was spring. It’s humid. There are watermelons everywhere. We return to the steps under the tree full of what we assumed were cherries but which tomorrow we’d learn are cherry plums, not cherry-cherries, called Tkemali. The grasses are still burring and we have a drink.

The first and only other time we drank Mariam Iosebidze’s Tavkveri was in December in the snow, in New England. We’d asked the peeps at Chambers Street Wines ‘for something with volatile acidity', and they suggested two: Del Prete 'Torre Nova' 2015 and Mariam’s 2015 'Tavkveri' (notes). We took both. At the time, playing a board game on the floor in front of the wood stove waiting for dinner, I couldn’t make up my mind whether I found it too acidic; whether admitting I did would be to admit some sort of defeat. You have to understand: I drink vinegar dregs and eat kimchi drunk at night. You can no-sweat dress a wound or salad with my kombucha. This would have been a personal defeat.

In the end I sidestepped the issue entirely and concluded it would make more sense in a different setting, suggesting, ‘outside hot Georgian summer let’s say grilling’. Not knowing anything about Georgia whatsoever, this was a total cop-out. But it’s still nice to be right.

Tasting notes:

Fruit punch pink in your glass shimmering with sea clam on the surface bubbles. Smells like pickled hibiscus. The 16 is more rounded than the 15, starting river pebble rolling smooth to then tighten out towards a flinty edge, like running your tongue from the flat head along the edge of an arrowhead (if you think this sounds sharp, the 15 had a body like a battle axe). In the taste department you’re knee-deep in a silty cranberry bog (or while we're here, raw Tkemali) with an ocean breeze blowing hints of a wild Georgian beast your way, the beast, no doubt, with a beautiful woven blanket over its hairy back. There's also a wisp of a gun just gone off. A super-soaker thirst quencher and as much as I hate it when supermarket wine labels say it, would work with anything blackened off a hot coal grill.


"Tavkveri" 2016
Mariam Iosebidze
Kartli, Georgia

Picking Tkemali

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