September 28, 2015
Region of the Week: Greece
Let’s go back to Ancient Greece. Archeological evidence suggests that wine has been around for more than 4,000 years. Wine was and is an important part of Greek culture – Homer himself made several wine references in his Iliad and Odyssey, and Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, had a significant presence in Greek Mythology. Although its tumultuous history prevented Greece from developing its winemaking as much as its neighbor Italy, the country’s wine industry has shown signs of revitalization and modernization in recent years. And this is exactly why you should add Greece on your list of European wine regions to visit. Read on!
Greece and its grapes
One of the things that makes Greece wine industry so unique is the balance between the traditional and the modern. More than 300 indigenous grave varieties are grown there, some of which have been cultivated since ancient times. These native varietals are found alongside a few well-known famous international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay. While Greece is mainly known for its whites, its wine portfolio includes everything from crisp and fresh whites to sparkling rosé and luscious and complex reds. Climate wise, Greece provide an excellent environment for the production of high quality wines: sunshine, low average rainfall and fertile soils are what makes the variety of Greek wines so unique.
The most widely planted varieties for white wines are Santorini’s bone-dry Assyrtiko, Roditis, Savatiano, White Muscat and Moschofilero (an aromatic grape often compared to Gewürztraminer), while Agiorgitiko, Mavrodaphne and the rich and tannic “Barolo-style” Xinomavro are some of the better-known red grapes.
Where to taste?
Domaine Spiropoulos – The Spiropoulos family shares its love for wine and vineyards since 1860. Their 86-acre vineyards are located in the central Peloponnese at an altitude of 650 meters, and in the vicinity of Ancient Nemea. Spiropoulos cultivates grapes ranging from Moschofilero, Agiorghitiko, Lagorthi and Merlot to Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah.
Alpha Estate – Don’t miss a visit to the Alpha Estate winery, in the northwestern Greek region Amyndeon. The winery is famous for its high-quality wines since 1997 – and will certainly not disappoint. Try one of their ultra-premium wines Alpha One or Alpha Xinomavro Reserve Vieilles Vignes.
Kir-Yianni – The winery can be found in the same viticultural zone, Amyndeon, and is often praised for the extensive variety of wines they offer. The varieties cultivated at Kir-Yianni are the international white grapes Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, as well as the local Roditis, Assyrtiko, Malagouzia and Malvasia aromatica.