Monday, June 26, 2023

Wines of Greece - Trade tasting by the Greek Wine Federation

It is not often that one goes to church to taste dozens of wines, but this is what I had the privilege of doing today in London for a wonderful trade tasting today At St. John's entirely dedicated to the wines of Greece.

Kudos to Westbury Communications for the organisation and thank you to the Greek Wine Federation for their initiative.

Long gone is the time when Greece was associated with cheap retsina wines that would make collectors raise their eyebrows. In the last 30 years or so the qualitative progress has been incredible and today we were lucky to taste many world class wines that have put the country firmly on the map.

The map is actually a curious concept in Greece, as we learned how no one really knows how many hectares in the country are actually dedicated to vines. Lots of work for the cadastre remains to be done.

Generally Greece produces wines with a high sugar content, because of its latitude and consequent high temperatures. However careful harvesting and smart use of land at higher altitudes have moderated this feature and today many Greek wines sport a more reasonable ABV that is comparable with the best in the world.

That is also reflected in the prices of Greek wines. I learned that today grapes of quality can cost up to 4500 euro / metric ton, which means, roughly, that their resulting wine must be sold for some € 45 / bottle for the producer to make a profit.

Of special interest two masterclasses presented by James Goode, MW. Below is my pick of the best wines he introduced to us.

Masterclass 1: 11am – 12.30pm: “Mountains and islands: Mapping Greece’s viticultural landscape”

Douloufakis Winery, Aspros Lagos white 2022, PGI Crete, 100% Vidiano
Powerful, complex and round, very long.
Acacia wood ageing confers a unique smoothness. RRP £ 30. Score 92

Domaine Costa Lazaridi, Château Julia Assyrtiko 2022
A balanced wine, mod long and complex with a slight and pleasant bitter ending that gives it a special character. A powerful texture. RRP £ 20. Score 92

Atremis Karamolegos Winery, Pyritis 2020, Assyrtiko
120yo vines! A complex, long and perfectly balanced wine. RRP £ 48. Score 93

Santo Wines, Santorini Nykteri 2021, Assyrtiko, Athiri, Aidani
Balanced and complex, long. RRP £ 31. Score 93

Palivou Estate, Nemea 2020, Agyorgitiko
This grape is sometimes referred to as the "merlot of Greece".
Still very young, it needs time to round its edges. A structured, powerful wine. RRP £ ? Score 91

Domaine Skouras, Nemea Grande Cuvee 2019, Agyiorgitiko
Fresh start gives way to an overall balance, with a pleasing sour end. RRP £ 30. Score 92

Parparoussis Winery, TAOS 2018, Mavrodaphne
30yo vines, a complex wine wine with a perfect balance, long and elegant. RRP £ 37. Score 93

Masterclass 2: 3pm – 4.30pm: “Assyrtiko to Xinomavro: Exploring Greece’s indigenous varieties”

Greek Wine Cellars, Moderne Allegorie Assyrtiko 2022
Intense to the nose, complex and balanced interpretation of this iconic grape. RRP £ 30. Score 92

Domaine Hatzimichalis, Assyrtiko Alepotrypa vineyard 2022
Steel fermenting and ageing makes for a crisp wine, to be enjoyed now. RRP £ 16, Score 92

Gaia Wines, Agyorgitiko 2020
Full, round and complex from 40yo vines and 21months in now oak. RRP £42. Score 93

From the same producer I tasted the following wines in the walkaround

Gaia Wines, Thalassitis 2022, Assyrtiko from Santorini
Intense, fresh, even zesty and floral, exuberant in the glass. RRP £ 33. Score 93

Gaia Wines, Assyrtiko by Gaia 2022
Complex, long perfect, a harmonious wine. RRP £ 37. Score 95

Alpha estate, Ecosystem Xinomavro relerve "Barba Yannis" 2019
From ungrafted vines that are 90yo, no less, and planted at the remarkable altitude of 900 meters above sea level. Complex, round, long, a harmonious wine. RRP £32. Score 95, the best wine of the day.

From the same producer I tasted the following wines in the walkaround

Ecosystem Assyrtiko Single Block "Aghia Kiriaki" 2021
A strong, full wine with plenty of room to improve over time. RRP £ 28, Score 92

Single vineyard "Hedgehog" Rosé 2022
Xinomavro. RRP £25. Score 92