Sierra Dawn Downey tells stories through illustrating, writing, and photography and teaches about wine. She recently attended a tasting of Georgian wines at The Barrel Room in San Francisco and was particularly fascinated by the Shavnabada Rkatsiteli, a rich amber-colored wine made by monks from the Shavnabada Monastery that spent 9 years buried in the earth after 5 months of maceration:
Ever since listening to @winefornormalpeople’s episode on Georgian wines, I’ve been incredibly curious to try some for myself. Thanks to the intrepid wine gurus at @barrelroomsf, I was able to travel to Eastern Europe via its vino and dive into the world of amphorae wines! I can honestly say I’ve never quite experienced history on my tongue and in my nose as I did with this flight. When I tried the amber-colored Shavnabada Rkatsiteli, made by Georgian Orthodox monks in Kakheti who age it for years in qvevris, it brought to mind creaking old stone-and-wood buildings decorated with decades of dust. Tree resin, herbs, treated wood. It was fascinating.
Then it was on to the Gotsa Rosé of Tarkveri, the color of a vivid sunset in my glass–with the slight (and very unexpected) scent of blood and iron–think rare red meat–with the red fruit notes dancing underneath. Rounding out the flight was a doqi Saperavi from Kakheti, an inky wine aged in (at least from this producer) stainless steel and French oak barriques rather than qvevris. Aromas of warm honey and toffee swirled in the glass, turning to honeyed plum, cherries, and nearly over-cooked caramel on the tongue with a pleasing finish. I found it a brooding wine that enticed another sip to (try to) further understand it.
Overall, it was a fascinating experience, and I was transported to my days spent exploring Fort Ross in elementary school, where the importance was placed on living history rather than simply learning it.
Follow Sierra Dawn Downey and her drawings and photography on Instagram.