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WINE OF THE WEEK: Teliani Valley Winery 97 Kakhuri No.8 2020, Kakheti, Georgia

£13–£14.50, ND John Wines, Hedley Wright, WoodWinters, D'Arcy Wine, Cheers Wine, Aitken Wines, Fraziers Wines, Drinkmonger, Noble Green Wines

There’s no consensus over whether wines like this should be called amber, orange or skin-contact white wines, but I’m going with amber wine because that’s what Georgian producers call them.

It saves any confusion with wines from Australia’s Orange region or wines that merely have an aroma of orange. More to the point, it’s generally a pretty accurate description of the colour of Georgian wines made in this way. If you know what this way is, skip the next two paragraphs.

Amber wine is made from white grapes fermented with their skins like red wines, in contrast to conventional white wine which is made by fermenting the juice of the freshly pressed grapes.

Teliani Valley Winery 97’s Kakhuri No.8 ferments on its skins for 7–10 days and the skins then remain with the wine for another six months. It's a blend of four indigenous varieties, Rkatsiteli, Kakhuri Mtsvane (40% each), Khikhvi and Kisi, and only the highest quality, ripest grapes are selected.

Apart from colour, this traditional Kakhetian method gives different aromas and textures, including tannins, the grippy, slightly bitter and astringent compounds from the skins, seeds and sometimes the stems that give structure and longevity to red wines (and also make their presence felt in stewed black tea and the papery skin of walnuts).

In the case of Kakhuri No.8, the result is an intriguing bone-dry wine with a backbone of tannin and acidity and what might read like a riot of aromas and tastes – pot pourri, chamomile, dried peach, orange peel, cumin, liquorice, walnuts. But far from rioting, they come together in very satisfying multifaceted harmony.

The presence of tannin means this is a wine to serve cool but definitely not chilled. You’ll then find that it pairs with an array of foods, including those such as lamb that would normally send you in search of reds. It went very well with new season’s shoulder of lamb (agneau fermier des Causses du Lot) on a bed of bay leaves and rosemary served with roast endive, onion and garlic. It also paired well with Comté (of various ages) and would be good with sheep's cheeses such as Manchego and with herby or spicy whole baked fish – among many other things. 13%.

Teliani Valley Winery 97 Kakhuri No.8 2020, Kakheti, Georgia

£13, ND John Wines; £13.49, Hedley Wright; £13.50, WoodWinters; £13.50, Latitude Wine; £13.69, D’Arcy Wine; £13.95, Cheers Wine; £13.95, Aitken Wines; £13.99, Fraziers Wines; £14.50, Noble Green Wines, Drinkmonger; £14.49, Kwoff; £14.90, Monty Wines; £15.75, Connollys Wine


James Johnson
James Johnson
a day ago

Thanks for clarifying the term 'amber wine' and its distinction from other types! It's fascinating to learn about the Georgian approach to winemaking and the unique process of fermenting white grapes with their skins and you can try this out there. This method not only gives the wine its distinctive color but also enriches its flavor profile. Looking forward to exploring more about this traditional technique!


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