Whilst Greek wines may be better known as the light and refreshing glasses consumed over the summer months, this is not Greece’s only season. As the climate cools, the warm braised meats and stews reappear on the tables and a Greek red wine could not be more suitably paired.
For those who saw Terry’s first article on the white wines chosen for his Greek Masterclass, do read on to hear about the brilliant selection of red producers who were chosen for the evening.
As well as a classic selection of white wines, I also raided the Club’s cellar in search for some reds.
- 2015 Limniona, Domaine Zafeirakis, Tyrnavos, Thessaly
- 2017 Agiorgitiko by Gaia, Nemea
- 2011 Domaine Chatzivaritis, Goumenissa
- 2011 Foundi Estate, Naousa
- 2015 Mavrodaphne, Taos, Parparoussis, Achaia
- 2011 Vinsanto
Limniona has a similar story with Malagousia, having been resurrected by Christos Zafeirakis in the past decade. His efforts have yielded juicy and fresh Limniona, with soft and silky tannins, a crunchy palate with nuances of red cherries and fresh red plums. For many guests, the correlation between Pinot Noir and Mencia was undeniable.
In speaking about grape comparisons, the same was true for Agiorgitiko, our second red wine and its similarities with Tempranillo and Sangiovese. I always place this variety somewhere in between the two, with juicy red fruit, a perfumed and floral character that neither has the bold nature of the former or the astringency of the latter. 2017 Agiorgitiko by Gaia is a classic example of modern vinification and the current trend to move away from too much use of oak, allowing the grape to show its fruity aspects and ‘drinkability factor’, as I like to say…
For the third wine, the duo of Xinomavros highlighted the potential of this unique variety. Goumenissa is a blend of Xinomavro (70%) and Negoska (30%), while Naousa, the fourth wine is 100% Xinomavro.
Both examples come from the stellar vintage of 2011 and were already expressive and typical of the evolution that the wines have with a bit of bottle ageing, garnet coloured and with the unmistaken nose of sundried tomato and hints of black olive. Chatzivaritis Goumenissa was holding a bit more colour and the oak was more pronounced, adding a touch of sweetness and plummy nature.
Founti Naousa had a great integration of wood, with savoury tomato notes, firm but ripe tannins – a very poised and elegant wine.
A new addition to the Club’s wine list is the dry Mavrodaphne from the maître of the grape, Athanassios Parparoussis. His version Taos (meaning peacock in ancient Greek), captures the essence and herbal character of the grape, which means the Black Laurel. It smells exactly like it – a combination of laurel leaf and black fruit, with great oak usage – supportive rather than dominating.
And last but not certainly not least, the 2011 Vinsanto 4 year old from Estate Argyros, in Santorini.
This ancient wine was mentioned by Homer as far back as 800 BC and is the sweet jewel of the crown of the island. Late harvested grapes are left to allow their sugars to concentrate, by exposing them directly to the sun. The raising process creates new aromatic compounds and adds complexity.
Long-barrel ageing enhances the wines, adds spice and gives the wine extra layers. Figs, dates, caramel, orange peel and dried fruits are common descriptors. Assyrtiko’s greatness is evident on the freshness that contributes to the wines, by balancing the high residual sugars with tremendous acidity.
This tasting was followed by wonderful discussions over the future of Greek wines. We truly hope that previous generations will be strong enough to support the ones to follow, passing over the knowledge and the wisdom of the past. We firmly believe that future generations will be thirsty enough to discover the hidden treasures of the Greek wine lands, and provide the modern drinkers with wines of real character and joy.