Friday, August 6, 2010

Greek Wines - Reds

As with the white wines, there are quite a number of indigenous red varieties in Greece. Unfortunately, the quality of the wines does not compare as well.

The most interesting grape I came across is the Mavrotragano grape, native to Santorini. Both the Hatzidakis and the Sigalas Mavrotragano wines are interesting. The wines have good weight, a sweet core, and quite a tannic finish. The grapes can be over 50 years old, and the wines have aging potential. The Sigalas was the more profound and elegant of the two. (Scores:88-90)

The viticulture for these wines is interesting. The vines grow near the ground and are protected by baskets. This protects the young grapes against vulcanic dust from the spring storms. The problem seems to be that the yield per hectare is quite low, but fairly high per grapevine. This means not the best for fruit concentration and poor economics at the same time. I will post some pictures when I have a chance.

I also had my worst red wine ever, made by the Koutsogiannopoulos winery. It was a five year old wine, not sure which indigenous variety it was. The wine tasted of foul apple and raspberry, I have never tasted anything like this. There may have been faults, but I could not tell what. This was worse than the worst corked wine I ever had.

I guess this is part of every new experience.

P.S.: Napa appointments are coming along nicely.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Greek Wines - Whites

There are a few things to like about Greek white wines at present.

1) They come from unique grape varieties with a long history

2) They are cheap

3) The flavours are quite different from what we are used to, and modern techniques achieve high quality.

In particular, the Athiri grape is interesting. It grows predominantly (I think) in Rhodos. There is a valley style and a mountain style available. The flavour has floral and earthy notes with nice acidity on the finish.

The star variety is probably Assyrtiko, grown in Santorini with a 2500 year history. A similar flavour profile to the Athiri, but more elegant. Fruit (pear) is very much in the background, which make these wines great food wines. I tasted the line-up of leading winery Domaine Sigalas and would happily drink their whites at any time. There are three on offer: an Assyrtiko-Athiri blend, very light and refreshing, the Santorini, 100% Assyrtiko, and the Santorini Barrel, which has more complexity.

I find these wines more interesting than their Spanish or Italian counterparts. The grapes are grown on heavy vulcanic soil, and have a lot of minerality in their character.

Score: around 90/++