Greek Wine

Island Holiday in a Bottle: More Greek Wine Discoveries

Greek wine transports me back to my trips to Greece’s many beautiful spots from Athens to the Islands. I think that’s why I love them! So it’s very exciting to see Greek wine showing up in wine stores and restaurants more and more.

Planet Wine, my local wine shop in Alexandria, is putting a full Greek section together as Tim, the manager, is a big Greek wine fan. This Wine Wednesday tasting he shared seven wines…

  • Tselepos Amalia Brut
  • Tselepos Moschofilero 2011, $11: Dry white wine made from the Moschofilero grape, it has a white floral aroma and crisp taste.
  • Gavalas Santorini 2011
  • Tetramythos Roditis 2011, $11: This Roditis grape variety produces a full body white wine with green apple notes.
  • Tselepos Agiorgitiko 2011, $11: This is a nice simple red wine made from the Agiorgitiko grape.
  • Foundi Naoussaia, $15: Xinomavro is the grape variety making a wine similar to Pinot Noir. From Northwest Greece.
  • Aivalis Family Vineyards Nemea, $19: Also made with 100% Agiorgitiko, this wine was more complex with smokey,  herbal and strawberry notes.

It’s crazy the number of unique grape varieties found in Greece. It was neat to taste whites and reds together…all acidic in different levels and different bodies. I liked all the wines but here were the two standouts…

  • Variety: 95% Assyrtiko, 5% Aidani
  • Aroma: Citrus and pear
  • Taste: Crisp pear and lemon
  • Price: $16
  • My thoughts: I loved discovering Santorini wines when we visited the island. The grapes are grown in the unique cylindrical bushes close to the ground. The grapes for this wine come from a vineyard considered to be the oldest in Greece, it has never been affected by the Phylloxera disease, and the grapes are grown on original stock. Most Santorini Assyrtiko wines I’ve had are very minerally from the volcanic soil but this had more crisp acidity.

Tselepos Amalia Brut

  • Variety: 100% Moschofilero
  • Aroma: Honey and brioche
  • Taste: Crisp citrus and honey
  • Price: $24
  • My thoughts: This was my first time having a Greek sparkling wine. Very nice! It’s made in the traditional Champagne method.

I’ve made great Greek wine discoveries in the last month with more coming at the Wine Bloggers Conference in August brought by New Wines of Greece. They are a great resource for more information.

Order a glass or pick up a bottle and let me know what you think.


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!

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!

2011 Harvest Season Full of Extremes

This growing season’s crazy weather conditions with extreme frosts, early summers and no summers have created quite a mixed bag for wine region harvests from California to Champagne to Chianti.

Many spots in Europe are already half way through their harvest creating the earliest harvest season many can remember. Reports from Greece last week showed several regions already underway. In France, due to a sunnier and warmer than usual spring, Champagne started on 19 August, their earliest harvest since 1822. Bordeaux also got underway in August due to high temperatures which advance the ripening.

Italian wine producers are predicting a great year although the temperatures could lead to volume down by 5%. Last year Italy surpassed France as the world’s leading wine producer with 49.6 million hectolitres produced vs. 46.2 million in France. For many Italian regions September weather will still be a factor. Cool temperatures at night will produce fragrant whites and well-structured reds.

The U.S. West Coast has dealt with a late short summer which will find some harvest seasons stretch into late November. California and the Northwest’s cold, wet early summer conditions mean a later than usual harvest. Oregon will have one of its coldest vintages in years. Eastern Washington’s late November frost could mean volumes are down 15-20% this year. Central California also had one of its worst frosts in years this growing season.

While those on the U.S. East Coast with last week’s crazy forces, an earthquake and Hurricane Irene, are reporting little impact. Virginia’s ideal conditions of a warm, dry summer should mean a great harvest.

As the grapes get picked and the wine starts production, we’ll see what all this means in the bottle in the coming months.

*Sources Wine Spectator, ANSA