Traveling from the Samegrelo region all the way east across the country to the drier, more continental winemaking region of Kakheti, we stumble upon an American. John Wurdeman, born in Santa Fe, comes from a family of artists and painters. One afternoon in the mid-90s, John – who had by chance become enamored of the polyphonic folk songs of Georgia as a teenager – sat in a Kakhetian vineyard to paint a Georgian landscape. A local man happened to drive by on a tractor and spot him. By some fortunate turn of fate, he decided to flag John down and insisted on extending to him classic Georgian hospitality: Food, Drink, and Song. This was Gela Patalishvilli. Gela would introduce John to the world of Georgian winemaking of yore – Qvevri soaked in beeswax upon extraction from the kiln and buried in the ground for fermentation, aging, and storing of wines crafted purely from indigenous grapes. In short: the wines were delicious and particularly Georgian, that is, layered with the plurality of voices and depth carried by those polyphonic folks songs that had drawn him to the country to begin with. The rest has become history, with the two of them co-operating Pheasant’s Tears since 2006, and in the process, becoming stewards of Georgian ampelographic diversity. They house a nursery of some 400+ rare indigenous varieties that bloom each year in all manner of color, a wild rainbow of possibility – which is really what’s always been here.
Vinification: 100% Rkatsiteli, sourced from vineyards in the Village of Tibaani in the Kakheti wine region. Grapes are hand-harvested, pressed, and fermented on the skins for 1 month in Qvevri. Unfined, unfiltered, very low SO2.