The Hunt for the Holy Grail

November 24, 2020

2017 Poliphonia Pheasants Tears a 417 Georgian varietal field blend

by Chris Hamm

2017 Poliphonia Pheasants Tears

All Wine Century Clubbers are always on the hunt for new unique grape varietals. Especially on the hunt for a multi unique varietal blend. Historically in the Wine Century Club “the White Whale”, was Cento Uve, from Mario Giribaldi Vineyards in Tuscany, with a purported 152 unique wine varietals. My wife and I got a couple of bottles of that wine 2 years ago, when we vacationed in Scotland and England. In advance of that trip I had called the Mario Giribaldi Winery in Tuscany directly, to place an order for a couple of bottles of Cento Uve, and arranged to have them shipped to our hotel in London.  We brought the wine back to the U.S. when we left London, in July 2018.

One “White Whale” vanquished. Next to look for something a bit bigger.

In early 2019 a Wine making friend in Oregon was watching a show on Hulu last year called “The Wine Show”, a United Kingdom based show, that explores Wine, and Winemaking. In season 2, episode 3 the show visits Pheasants Tears Winery in Khakheti, Georgia.  Here’s the back story. A few years ago, the Georgian national government took over a project to preserve locals strains and unique native Georgia in a “host” Vineyard. John Wurdeman, co-owner of Pheasants Tears agreed to do so. 500+ varietals were planted on his Estate Vineyard in Khakheti.  After nurturing the multitude of new Vines for a few years, Wurdeman, in conjunction with his Winemaker decided to do a 417 varietal field blend. At harvest time, the field erupts in a “rainbow” of color, with red, pink, gray, yellow and green grapes. The grapes are harvested in four sweeps across the Vineyard to pick the grapes at the respective peak of their ripening.  All the grapes are combined in a Qvevri, a huge Clay winemaking container lined with BeesWax, fermented and buried in the ground. The Wine is left on the skins for a couple of years, then bottled.

The Wine name Poliphony means “multiplicity of sounds” in the Greek language.

This “Wine show” episode addresses Georgian Winemaking, Pheasants Tears Winery, and in particular, the 417 varietal Wine, “Poliphony”.

The hunt was on for Poliphony.  A trip to Wine Searcher yielded a couple of answers. One Wine shop in Tblisi. One in London. One in New Zealand. One in Australia. None in the U.S.  Note, here is the best part about the Wine. It costs around $26 U.S. dollars. Since I live in the U.S. I had to find a way to travel to a location selling the Wine, or make arrangements with a friend or family member to traveling to London.  I contacted the Wine shop in London and confirmed they would ship to a Hotel in London for me.  Next I contacted two family members who had planned business trips to London in early 2020.  I started to make arrangements to purchase the Wine and have it shipped to their planned Hotel in London.  Then of course, Covid 19 entered the equation. All International travel squashed.

Plan B.  No solution on Wine Searcher.  I had heard about a Blog/website called 1000Corks, which had a proprietary search logic to track down rare Wines. I visited the website and typed in Pheasants Tears Poliphony.  Guess what? I found a Brooklyn shop that had 1 bottle left. I purchased it and had it shipped across the Country.  Next how to quantify/document all of the varietals.  There are a few web based articles that cover the Wine and the Winery. I gleaned some information from these. I contacted the Winery directly, and opened a dialogue. I got a little information but could only learn about 25 – 30 varietals incluced directly. Exhausting all other sources, I went to the VIVC international database, and got a listing of all documented Georgian Varietals.  There are 550 in this database.  All with a varietal number based upon, when it was verified and documented. The lower the number, means the varietal has been documented a long time. The higher the number means the varietal was documented and confirmed more recently.

I sorted the list in numerical order.  I eliminated varietals that looked to be clones or, had no grape type documented, ie, Red or White, Rouge or Blanc, etc. I also eliminated any varietals that were just listed with a number.  I was left with about 500 entries. Then I picked the remaining 390 or so varietals, I had not yet been able to document as being included in the Poliphony blend.

We had a social distancing Wine tasting party in July. Georgian wines only, and Georgian food only. Poliphony is unusual for sure. A bit sour. Pink to Strawberry in color. A broad range of flavors, that changes every few minutes you let it remain in the glass. Enjoyable, especially when it’s chilled a bit. A once in a lifetime type of Wine.

Good luck finding one.

The Six Hundred Club

October 30, 2019

We now have six Hexavin members!

Michael J. Mangahas was the first with 622 grapes. Dan Traucki followed with 603.

And this month, we added four more: Thomas J. Reagan, Jr. at 666, and Jim Breed, Patricia Faust Breed, and Tim Faust at 601.

Yes, just in time for Halloween, Tom has drunk the number of the beast! However, I’m not sure if Patricia and Tim have sold their souls to the devil!

Jim Breed, Patricia Faust Breed and Tim Faust toasting their 600th grape variety.

An Exaggeration

January 28, 2019

It has been a chaotic year, but The Wine Century Club is still going strong. Rumors of its demise are a gross exaggeration.

If you have not received your certificate or a reply to any concern, please contact me directly at steve@winecentury.com.

Thank you,

Steve De Long







Ask Decanter

September 8, 2017

John Watson of Michigan is looking for a society of grape lovers on Decanter’s website: Is there a society for grape lovers?

Hopefully he’ll be a member soon!

Certificates

July 12, 2017

If you’ve been concerned about the glacial pace that certificates are being sent out, please take note that more have been sent out this week.

As of July 4, 2017 we currently have:

Total Members 1,740

US 1,420
Canada 80
UK 62
Australia 25
The Netherlands 16
Germany 14
Finland 13
Hong Kong 12
Sweden 12
Brazil 9
Norway 9
Spain 9
France 8
Greece 8
Switzerland 7
Denmark 5
Italy 5
Belgium 2
Hungary 2
Ireland 2
Mexico 2
Poland 2
Portugal 2
Turkey 2
UAE 2
Bahamas 1
Bulgaria 1
Czech Republic 1
Estonia 1
India 1
Macau 1
Georgia 1
Romania 1
Russia 1
Taiwan 1

Regular (100) 1,556
Doppel (200) 118
Trebble (300) 39
Quattro (400) 18
Pentavini (500) 7
Hexavin (600) 2

Men 1,137
Women 603

Article in Decanter: The Grape Crusaders

February 24, 2014

Here’s an excellent article on the club by John Stimpfig in Decanter: The Grape Crusaders: Wine Century Club

Official Wine Century Club T Shirt

December 7, 2013

The perfect actionwear for epic tastings or working off your weingut.

Now available at www.delongwine.com

Le Grand Prix du Cepage 2014

December 4, 2013

The competition is heating up. I have word from past champion Tom Reagan Jr. that he is at 600.

Onward and Upwards

October 28, 2013

The Wine Century Club Stacked

The Wine Century Club now has 1,378 members worldwide. Stacked end to end (and assuming an average height of 5ft 6in) we now are collectively taller than Mount Kosciuszko, the highest mountain in Australia.

Great Wine News

May 4, 2013

GreatWineNews

An inspirational article by über member Dan Traucki published in the May 2013 Great Wine News.

Titanic Tannat Tasting

March 3, 2013

Newly minted Treble Centurian Randy Cepuch recently held a tannat tasting for some friends.

“There were 20 of us, and I think it’s safe to say the favorite bottles were the Pisano RPF, the Pisano Reserve, the Chateau O’Brien (source of the first Tannat I’d ever tasted) and all three of the French entries – although one lawyer in the group noted that maybe drinkers should worry a bit when the largest type on the bottle could be interpreted as scary disclosure: “May die!”

It sounded like a fun tasting but no word as of yet as how everyone’s tongues survived the onslaught of tannins!


The Wine Century Club Adopts Official Book

November 20, 2012

The book photographed next to a man for scale

Wine Grapes, the new and amazing tome by Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding and José Vouillamoz has been adopted as our Bible, Talmud, Quran, Book of Mormon etc.

It will be used as the authoritative word in resolving deputes about synonyms, clones etc. No more arguments like:

“Brunello is an independent grape variety!”
“I believe that it’s actually Sangiovese.”
“How would you know? Do you know more than wine makers in Montalcino??!!!!”

If you don’t have a copy yet, check out the official site: Winegrapes.org for the best deal on it worldwide.