Wine Discoveries

Fancy Food Show Wine Discoveries: Greece

As mentioned in my last article, I discovered some great wines from Greece and Italy at the Fancy Food Show in DC. The second Greek discovery was Sokos Wines.

Sokos Wines is located in central Greece on the north slopes of the Kitheronas mountain at Erythres. In the caves of this mythical mountain Kitheronas, it is said Zeus and Semeli gave birth to Dionysus-Bacchus, the god of grapevine and wine. What a perfect place to grow grapes and make wine!

Making wine since 1960, they have a large portfolio of wines currently only distributed in Europe (I’m almost positive I tried a few when we lived there), but are working on U.S. distribution. The Show was their first time in the U.S.

I tasted three of their white wines with Argiris Sokos…

  • Drykos Kefalai – Assyrtiko & Chardonnay: This was a very interesting blend of the Greek variety, Assyrtiko, and Chardonnay. In this wine, the Chardonnay added a round full body to the bright acidity of the Assyrtiko. Very nice combination!
  • Malagouzia: These grapes come from the slopes of Mount Kitheronas. It was very peach and apricot forward in aroma and taste with a full body and fruity touch of sweetness.
  • Savatiano: This Greek variety made a nice crisp yet round wine that reminded me of a Seyval Blanc or white Burgundy.

Greek wines are very fun to explore! The grape varieties are new and different to most of us and you can just dream of sitting on a Greek island while you sip them. 🙂 For more on Greek wine, visit New Wines of Greece.

Yamas to Greek wine discoveries!

Fancy Food Show Wine Discoveries: Greece

Last week attending the Fancy Food Show in DC (North America’s largest specialty food & beverage event with 180,000 products and 2,400 exhibitors from 80 countries), I headed right to the International area, Europe to be exact. I knew if there was wine to be found, it would be there. First stop: Greece. Success!

I discovered two very nice Greek wineries to share…Sokos Wines and Nico Lazaridi.

Nico Lazaridi, imported by Fantis Foods to the U.S., was established in 1987 as the first organized wine-producing facility in the Drama region of Greece (in the north). Twenty years later, they have roughly 34 wines in their portfolio.

Nico Lazaridi The Black Sheep 

  • Grape Variety: Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc from Protected Geographical Indication of Macedonia (in Northern Greece)
  • Aroma: Melon, honey and fresh cut grass
  • Taste: Crisp citrus with a slight sweetness, melon and minerality on the finish
  • Thoughts: While not classic Greek grape varietals its very interesting to taste these two together grown in Greece. It’s a nice full bodied crisp wine that’s worth trying if you’re looking for something different. It’s also sealed / closed with the very cool Stelvin Lux top (screw top with , outer aluminum shell looks like a foil capsule) and get the wine very fresh for days!
For more on Greek wines, visit New Wines of Greece.Next more from Greece in Sokos Wines then on to my Italy discoveries.

Yamas to Greek wine!

Virginia Wine Expo NEW Wine Discoveries

The 5th Annual Virginia Wine Expo featured 76 of Virginia’s now 210 wineries sampling over 400 wines. It was a great opportunity for me to hit 23 wineries and sample about 100 wines, some new discoveries and some old favorites. Today and tomorrow I’ll share some of the NEW discoveries.

Mountfair Vineyards 2010 Inaugural

Located 20 minutes west of Charlottesville, Mountfair Vineyards crafts small-batch, blended red wines using classic Bordeaux grapes: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec.

  • Varietal: 65% Cabernet Franc, 15% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot
  • Aroma: Red fruit and oak
  • Taste: Very fruit forward with lots of cherry
  • Price: $25.00
  • My thoughts: This is my third time tasting winemaker Fritz Repich’s wines…what a great guy and great wines! You’d love to sit down with him over a bottle and hear all his winemaking stories. He’s doing a great job blending red Virginia grapes in Bordeaux style. This wine is very fruit forward thanks to 2010’s hot summer.

Pollak Vineyards 2009 Cabernet Franc

This small family-owned winery west of Charlottesville was founded in 2003 and opened their tasting room and patio in 2008. Today they have 27 acres of French vines and their focus is on making estate grown wine with “the finesse and balance of the traditional French varietals.”

  • Varietal: 100% Estate Grown Cabernet Franc
  • Aroma: Earthy black cherry
  • Taste: Smooth yet tart black cherry with earthiness and pepper
  • Price: $20
  • My thoughts: This was my first time tasting Pollak. Nick Dovel, tasting room director, tasted me through their wines at the Expo and I really enjoyed them. Cabernet Franc, a big grape and wine for Virginia…I like the fruit forward nature of this one with hints of pepper that aren’t overpowering.

Annefield Vineyards 2009 Viognier

Annefield is a boutique winegrower near the village of Saxe in Southern Virginia. Named after the Annefield Plantation dating back to 1770,  it was founded in 2005 on the land by Stephen M. Ballard and Michael T. Leary. Wines are traditional old-world style produced by winemaker Michael Shaps with Virginia Wineworks.

  • Varietal: 100% Viognier
  • Aroma: Bright honeysuckle
  • Taste: Crisp honeydew melons and citrus with silky mouthfeel
  • Price: $22
  • My thoughts: Really liked this wine! Also loved the wordle sheet they were giving out describing each wine. 🙂

Visit their websites to find out where you can buy them or if they ship to your state.

More NEW Virginia wine discoveries tomorrow.

Wine Discoveries: Greece

A smell and sip of the Assyrtiko…a bite of the Spanakopita…the Greek music playing in the background…for a moment, I was back in the Greek Islands. Alas it was Winesdays at my Alexandria, VA Whole Foods. But for an hour, as I walked around with my grocery cart sampling the five different Greek wine varietals and food pairings, I was momentarily transported to Greece. And it was fabulous to try some new Greek wines!

 Elios Mediterranean

  • Varietal: 50% Moschofilero, 30% Chardonnay, 10% Roditis, 10% Savatino
  • Aroma: Creamy lemony almost creamsicle-like
  • Taste: Honey, vanilla, lemon with touch of oak
  • Price: $11.99
  • Thoughts: Elios name comes from Helios, the personification of the sun in Greek mythology. You can definitely pick up the Chardonnay in this wine that’s blended with the other Greek grape varietals. Nice dry white wine.

Yannis Assyrtiko Santorini

  • Varietal: 100% Assyrtiko
  • Aroma: Fresh, sand, slight smokey
  • Taste: Dry, crisp, sea salt, minerality
  • Price: $14.99
  • Thoughts: I first discovered Assyrtiko in Santorini, its native land. It’s a very interesting and unique grape and wine. Quite dry with a slight smokey aroma and taste that comes from the volcanic soil on Santorini. It grows throughout the island in these great little bushes of vines.

Foundi Naoussaia

  • Varietal: Xinomavro
  • Aroma: Bright cherry, cedar, licorice
  • Taste: Earthy, smokey, cherry
  • Price: $14.99
  • Thoughts: This was definitely a new grape varietal and wine to me.  The Xinomavro grape is indigenous to northwestern Greece. Wednesday night it was described as Greece’s Pinot Noir which is a good description.

Nostos Manousakis

  • Varietal: Syrah, Mouvedre, Grenache Rouge, Roussanne blend
  • Aroma: Jammy, smokey, sweet smell
  • Taste: Brown sugar and caramel with dark fruit
  • Price: $18.99
  • Thoughts: This wine comes from the island of Crete. Very neat wine described as Greece’s Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It paired perfectly with the Eggplant Moussaka…yum!

Kourtavi Mavrodaphne

  • Varietal: Mavrodaphne, Black Korinthiaki
  • Aroma & Taste: Sweet raisins and dates
  • Price: $11.99
  • Thoughts: This sweet red dessert wine comes from the foothills near Patras in the north west Peloponnese. Very Port-like but much more fruit forward.

Definitely pick up a bottle at your local Whole Foods, wine shop or order one when out at a Greek restaurant. For more information on Greek wine check out New Wines of Greece.

Yamas to Greek wine!

Virginia Wine Expo Wine Discoveries: Well Hung Vineyards

The 5th Annual Virginia Wine Expo last weekend featured 76 of Virginia’s now 210 wineries sampling over 400 wines. It was a great opportunity to hit 23 wineries and sample about 100 wines, some new discoveries and some old favorites. Over the next few articles I’ll share some of my finds.

Well Hung Vineyards

This is a fun one! In business since May 2009, Amy Steers has been growing grapes on her vineyards for 12 years selling to Cardinal Point Winery prior to starting Well Hung.

Tasting with Amy Sunday at the Expo she told me the story of how Well Hung came about. She was out in the vineyard one day checking on the grapes with her friend Tracy Verkerke who commented “the grapes are so well hung.” They thought what a perfect name for a wine especially because for Amy’s family “everything is below the waste.” Her husband is a urologist. 😉

They had a great name and Tracy designed the fabulous label (it’s Amy’s husband and sons) but now they needed wine. They thought about buying California wine to label but then realized they should make their own wine with the grapes growing right in front of them. It was the same time Michael Shaps was opening Virginia Wine Works with a custom crush facility so they became Michael’s first customer! Amy, Tracy and Kathy Rash officially started Well Hung Vineyard.

In less than three years they’ve grown from 200 to 1,000 cases. When you see their brand and taste their wine, you can see why. Their booth was packed at the Expo.

I tasted through six wines with Amy, 2010 Everyday Chardonnay, 2010 Viognier (Gold Medal Winner International Women’s Wine Competition), 2011 Blush, 2010 Cabernet Franc, 2010 Merlot-Verdot and her special Very Well Hung Chardonnay. My favorites…

2011 Blush

  • Varietal: 100% Cabernet Franc
  • Aroma: Tart fresh berry
  • Taste: Strawberries and cream
  • Price: $17.99
  • My thoughts: This is a great summer sipping rosé made of Cabernet Franc! Great way to use the grape. Was fun to taste next to their 2010 Cabernet Franc…same grape made in different ways, strawberry from both.

Very Well Hung Chardonnay

  • Varietal: 100% Chardonnay
  • Aroma: Fruit forward, hint of oak
  • Taste: Smooth lingering finish
  • Price: only made 19 cases
  • My thoughts: This is Amy’s pride and joy she snuck me a taste of. Excellent wine!

Well Hung is located in Charlottesville but doesn’t have a tasting room. On their site you can now buy their wine (and logo gear) and find out where to buy it locally.

Cheers to Well Hung…a fun and fresh take on wine!