Bacchae: Small, Fun, Alternative
By Olga Antoniadou
Who said that wine fairs have to be a huge affair? Not that they shouldn't or can't be, but it's so much easier navigating a smaller-scale do. For the second time, Giannis Siganos and his team set up a fun wine fair called Bacchae, in a rather 'weird' venue right in the dodgier part of the Athens city centre.
I hadn't managed to attend in 2019 but had got excellent feedback from friends. So, I braced myself for a stroll in a part of town I hadn't actually walked in for quite some time. Just a couple of blocks off Omonoia square, in a very interracial and relatively poor neighbourhood, sprinkled with little shops that sell Chinese, Pakistani, Indian, African, Arabic bits and bobs, intermingled with little Greek shops (a famous area to get herbs, spices, coffee, charcuterie and very near the central meat and vegetable markets). Also, an area that is increasingly becoming home to some very interesting small ethnic restaurants and ethnic street food.
The venue used to house the printing offices of a once trendy pulp-style magazine, Romantso. It has been restored and rents out office space to start-ups and has a cultural centre that lends itself to music events, art exhibitions, workshops, theatre, etc. So, I found myself in this most interesting, historic building. The wine stands were spread over three floors, the basement, the ground floor, the first floor, and on the mezzanine, to the left of the entrance, a café/bar with tables and Lebanese (Feyrouz) street food.
The idea is to couple music with wine. Two great loves combined. Each room was filled with rather loud DJ music, and in the evening, a party with live music was to be held (I had to skip that, but I heard it went on into the early hours). At some point, I teased Giannis Siganos that we couldn't hear each other speak, and it was stifling communication. Grinning, he answered: “The idea is to focus on the wines. Concentrate on what is in your glass”. Not much to say to that, right?
The winemakers who attended are all are organic or biodynamic producers from different parts of Greece. Some very acclaimed and well known, some smaller to be discovered. In all, 25 producers. Sclavos (Kefalonia), Tatsis (Goumenissa), Sant'Or (Achaea), Domaine de Kalathas (Tinos), Oenos Nature, Tetramythos (Achaea), Petrakopoulos (Kefalonia), Karanikas (Amyndeo), Zafeirakis (Tirnavos), Afianes (Ikaria), Malihin (Rethymno), Acra Chryssos (Santorini),The Knack Project (Megara), Dalamaras (Naoussa), Markovitis (Naoussa), Tzikas (Halikidiki), Kontoyiannis (Corinth), Patoinos (Patmos), Endochora (Chania), Karimalis (Ikaria), Kontozisis (Karditsa), Georgas (Attica), Thalassinos (Heraklion), Garalis (Lemnos), X-Bourgo (Tinos).
I won't say anything about the acclaimed producers, but I was really very pleasantly surprised by the smaller wineries. I was taken by their enthusiasm and love for what they are doing. And, of course, I discovered some gems.
This was altogether a lovely idea (even if I couldn't hear myself speak!).
Olga's 11 favourite wines
I had decided that I would only be tasting white and rosé wines at this instant. Here are some of the wines I found particularly interesting.
Zafeirakis Malagousia Natura: White peach, grapefruit notes, floral, mineral, nutty, fresh, with a rather oily texture on the palate.
Domaine de Kalathas 10+12 Vielles Vignes, 100% Aspro Potamisi: Stone fruit, medium acidity, lovely balance, slightly tannic finish.
Sainte Obeissance Aspro Potamisi, Rozaki: I tried both the 2019 and 2017 and it ages marvellously. Citrus fruit, red fruit, apple, slightly floral and mineral. The texture of a red wine.
Dalamara Thoos 2021, Assyrtiko, Preknadi: Pear, lime, pineapple, herbal/floral.
Iliana Malihin Vidiano Old Vines & Thrapsathiri 2020 & Malihin/Chryssos Rizes2: I liked these wines so much I forgot to take notes.
Petrakopoulos Zakynthino 2021: Stone fruit, citrus fruit, herbs, stony minerality and amazing acidity.
X-Bourgo Assyrtiko 2021: A cross between Santorini and Northern Greece Assyrtiko.
Kontozisis Malagousia: Lovely wine, mainly tropical and floral
Kontozisis Malagousia Orange: Sweet orange, orange zest, honey, with a light grip