are experiencing a significant renaissance. That’s a very good thing. It’s possibly the oldest wine producing region of the world, going back at least 6,500 years. It was the Greeks who introduced wine to Italy. Greek wine had especially high prestige among the Romans. And Greek wines were transported to the ancients all over the Mediterranean from the earliest of times.
Fast forward to the modern age. I set out to find out about the Greek wine renaissance from Steve Kriaris of Kolonaki Group, the premier importer of Greek wines in Ontario. Steve explained that just a couple of years ago, LCBO’s Vintages would buy around 200 cases of a Greek wine for one of their promotions, and for a similar promo now, they buy over 500 cases just to keep up with exploding demand. I will begin to explain some of the likely reasons for the surge in popularity, and invite you to comment below with your own observations.
It’s certainly clear that the LCBO, top restaurants, sommeliers and wine reviewers are discovering that Greek wines have history and culture, and that their affordability belies their high quality. Experts and laymen alike are learning that there are some spectacular new wine varietals to discover.
I spent the weekend tasting a number of Greek wines in order to share my findings here. Following are some highlights. I invite you to take the plunge and try these for yourself. You’ll be very pleased. And you’ll still be one of the early participants in this wine renaissance:
Moschofilero Boutari 2012 White Wine —– $11.95 LCBO # 172387
Region: Mantinia (Southwestern Greece)
Producer: Boutari. One of Greece’s oldest wine companies, founded in 1879.
Notes: This is a classic Moschofileo with a charming floral bouquet amidst lemon rind, tangerine and peach. These characteristics follow through in flavour with crispness and a whisper of spice. I’m going to make this my Pinot Grigio alternative for quite some time, it’s so delightfully full of personality and character. Pairs very well with Mediterranean home cooked cuisine or try it with spicy Asian or Indian dishes.
Grande Reserve Naoussa 2007 Red Wine —– coming soon to Vintages
Region: Naoussa (North Western Macedonia, Greece)
Notes: Deep and dark red blockbuster aged 24 months in barrels. The richness already comes out in the nose, with aromas of olives, spice cabinet, figs and red and black berries. The flavours are complex, robust and full-bodied with firm tannins. Long finish.
Estate Argyros Santorini 2011 White Wine —– coming soon to Vintages
Producer: Estate Argyros
Notes: From that wonderful Greek island of Santorini, this outstanding white wine caressed the senses with aristocratic intensity. Produced from 150 year old+ vines, this blockbuster is made from 100% Assyrtiko grapes in an intense yet fine presentation of complex aromas and flavours that speak of minerality and citrus blossoms. Full body. Crisp and lingering finish.
The Argyros family have operated the winery since 1903. Under the guidance of 4th generation Mattheos Argyros, the winery is moving towards 100% organic farming. “We believe good wine is produced in the vineyard,” he says. “We invest a lot of time and effort in our vines to ensure they produce high quality grapes.”
The team includes an older generation of growers who have years of experience with Santorini’s traditional viticultural techniques. They share their years of experience and expertise with Mattheos, who took over the management of the winery recently following his father’s passing. To compliment the experience of the older growers, they also work with a young new breed of people well educated in viticulture and modern winemaking techniques who also share the family’s vision of producing the purest expression of Santorini’s indigenous varieties, especially Assyrtiko.
Conclusion: Break out of your own little wine rut and try some wines that will take you into the deeply fascinating annals of viticulture. You’ll enjoy terrific new character and personality in the wines of Greece.
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