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06 Dr. Frank’s Rkatsiteli

I was given this wine as a gift from a business associate, a wine distributor in the state of Florida that sells exclusively the wines of New York to New York state ex-pats (and natives) in the state.  Brad Emler from NY Uncorked is somebody that knows and understands New York wines, you kind of have to when it’s your main business.

With the exhortation that the Rkatsiteli is a special wine, made in small quantity by Dr. Frank, it was given to me as a gift of cordiality.  And, what a gift it is.  Perfect.  Thanks Brad!

I do have to note that the wines circuitous voyage does nothing for green practices as it went from its New York birth to Florida to California where I received it and then to its final resting spot in Indiana before landing down my gullet.  The Rkatsiteli was no worse for the wear despite its cross-country journey, though I’d hate to add up the carbon offsets that might be required based on this single bottle of wines frequent flier miles …

Not being familiar (at all) with the varietal, I wasn’t sure what to make of it when pulling the cork.  Simply, this wine is a winner, a big winner.  It tastes like a blend, with a bracing acidity and spiciness, but fruit a plenty and a touch of herbal notes.  If forced a guess in a blind tasting I would call it a Chard/Sauvignon Blanc/Gruner Veltliner blend with, perhaps, a smidgeon of Viognier.  To get all of that into one wine varietal has to be considered an intriguing possibility for cool climate, East Coast vintners. 

In doing a touch of additional research on this wine I realized that my other favorite New York expert on wine, Lenn from Lenndevours, featured this wine favorably on Appellation America and his own site.

By way of background, Lenn’s Finger Lakes correspondent Jason Fuelner had this to say on the Dr. Frank’s Rkatsiteli:

Currently, Dr. Frank’s has 10 acres of rkatsiteli planted and produces about 3000 cases each year. Fred Frank considers 2006 a great growing season for rkatsiteli, and this wine recently won a Gold Medal at the New World International Wine Competition and was also awarded Best in Class.

Lenn noted in his tasting on Appellation America:

Rkatsiteli is a grape that you don’t hear much about, but it’s been around for a long time. It’s an ancient vinifera grape dating back over 5000 years to Georgia. No, not the state, the republic that was once part of the Soviet Union. It’s still extremely popular in Georgia and other former Soviet nations. In the United States, plantings are limited and found almost exclusively in the eastern US, including the cool-to-cold Finger Lakes region.

This wine goes a little bit against the grain of my tasting ethos—wines that can be found pretty much anywhere, but thanks to the Internet and e-commerce, this is practically true.  I would encourage you to buy some at the Dr. Frank’s web site and try out this very intriguing varietal.

My tasting note can be found here.


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