Georgian wine, produced in the South Caucasus valleys, where the 7,000-year vinous tradition is believed to be the world's oldest, was once coveted in the former Soviet Union as the finest wine that rubles could buy.
But Russia doesn't get to taste much anymore, since it imposed an official embargo on Georgian wines in 2006, as tensions between the two countries rose.
Their loss is our gain. The popular Georgian brand Teliani Valley has made a welcome splashdown in Pennsylvania state stores, with wines that show both a rustic edge of Caucasus terroir and enough polish to keep them accessible for Western tastes. At reasonable prices, they are a perfect match for a meal at the many Russian-style restaurants across Lower Bucks and Northeast Philly, where stock in these bottles is concentrated. Try this crisp white Tsolikouri, which balances citrusy acidity with a touch of pear-like richness, with grilled or sautéed fish. The dry red Mukuzani shows saperavi grapes, blending deep purple fruit with a touch of oaky spice that's a natural when the feast turns to savory skewers of marinated lamb off the grill.
- Craig LaBan
Teliani Valley's Mukuzani 2006, $13.99 (code 22816), and Tsolikouri 2007, $10.99 (code: 22819), in Pennsylvania.