The Arist-rkats!

Dr. Konstantin Frank Rkatsiteli 2006

In Soviet Russia, wine crushes you! (apologies to Yakov Smirnov)

In Soviet Russia, wine crushes you! (apologies to Yakov Smirnov)

Appelation:Finger Lakes
Varietal: Rkatsiteli
ABV: 11.4%
RS: 0.75% (the website says 0.75 g/L, (0.075%) but that is bone-dry. probably a typo.)
Price Point: $18
Notes:
Looks: Lemon yellow with a tinge of green
Nose: The floral notes remind me of both riesling and gewürztraminer. The biggest fruit in this basket is pineapple*, with some regular apple. Also, it kind of reminded me of a pear crème brulée I made one Valentine’s day. Actually, now that I think about it, we had rkatsiteli that day too (a different one, Westport Vineyards from Massachusetts)! Isn’t life grand?
Palate: Tangy acidity is singing the melody here. Just a little bit of residual sweetness backs it up like a nice descant, and a great, full {mouthfeel} rounds out the chord. I’m in a musical mood today, probably because I’m in the middle of 7 shows of Bernstein’s MASS, which you should see this weekend if you are in Ithaca. It’s got a long finish, too.

Rating: corkcorkcorkcork

I admit it, I’m a Frankophile. Dr. Frank’s has been in the news as of late, though not for the usual plaudits. The other day, their 3-year-old overflow tasting room burned to the ground. However, nobody was hurt, and the winery was open for tasting the very next day! Talk about unfazed!

Anyway, I love to try grape varieties I’ve never had before, and unless you emigrated from Georgia, chances are you haven’t had a rkatsiteli wine. The grape is Eastern European and apparently grown a lot over there. Dr. Frank appreciated its cold-hardiness and brought it to the Finger Lakes, where I must say it is doing pretty well. I’m sure it’s tough to market, except to people like me who will buy any wine that they’ve never heard of. I mean, if you thought blaufränkisch was a mouthful, then forget this one. By the way, according to Wikipedia it’s “rkah-tsee-tely”. Whatever you call it, it went great with Sarah’s beer/cheese/ham soup, with which we finally demolished the last of the Easter ham. It’s all about the little victories.

*Science!
Many components of pineapple aroma come from a group of compounds called ethyl esters. Wine grapes generally contain only low levels of esters. So why does the wine smell like pineapple? Ethyl esters are generated during fermentation by yeast. In short, fatty acid chains are combined by yeast enzymes (EHT1 and/or EEB1, ethanol O-acyltransferases) with ethanol and form these fruity-smelling compounds. To me, ethyl hexanoate smells particularly pineapple-y, as does ethyl decanoate, but the latter is slightly more metallic. Generally ethyl esters will take less time to hydrolyze and equilibrate than acetate esters (which we’ve talked about before), which explains why pineapple is still hanging about after a few years in the bottle. (Ref: Saerens et al., “The Saccharomyces cerevisiae EHT1 and EEB1 Genes Encode Novel Enzymes with Medium-chain Fatty Acid Ethyl Ester Synthesis and Hydrolysis Capacity”, J. Biol. Chem, 2006)

The reaction in question.  Stolen from G. Sacks, Cornell Univ., again.

The reaction in question. Stolen from G. Sacks, Cornell Univ., again.


The same reaction, in simpler terms.

The same reaction, in simpler terms.

Published in: on 24 April 2009 at 2:55 am  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Yeast selection is rather important. Rhone 4600 will elevate ester production and give you that nice pineapple component. However, me thinks Dr. Frank may have used Vin 13, for the reason above but also because it is extremely cold tolerant. I’m thinking the ambient temp in their fermentation room is frigid at that time of year in the Finger Lakes. Maybe you can confirm yeast selection with the winery.
    Great post.


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