Favourite Wines for the Festive Season
By Yiannis Karakasis MW
For my recommendations from the Greek market at under 25 euros, you can see Festive Bottles (Greek wines up to 25 euros) that include two Cypriot wines that are imported in Greece. You can also take advantage of Olga’s fantastic suggestions (her article in English here). Nevertheless, today I’m in a more cosmopolitan mood, and I will be exploring international wines (with one exception), suggesting the best my wine radar detected from a huge list in Greece.
Pascal Agrapart, 7 Crus Brut, Champagne
Agrapart’s entry-level Champagne is an ode to the terroir of the Champagne wine region. It blends wines from 7 villages, among which are 4 Grand Cru villages (in Champagne, the quality hierarchy is based on villages rather than vineyards). A favourite Champagne with the class of a Vintage, rich in character, with excellent mousse and finesse.
Deals (60,76 euros Greek Market Price)
Karanika, Extra Cuvee de Reserve 2017 Zero dosage, Amyndeo, Greece
If you find it difficult with Champagne, I have another solution for you. One that Domaine Karanikas has just released at almost half the price (if you’re looking for the best value). The ECDR grapes are sourced from pre-phylloxera Xinomavro vines, and the wine matures on the lees for at least 4,5 years(!), which means it is a giant of autolysis with intense toasty aromas and elegant, lightly woven tannins. It can be aged for 7+ years, but who can resist now?
Mr Vertigo (35,40 euros GMP)
Cantina Terlan, Gewurtztraminer 2021, Alto Adige, Italy
From terraced vineyards on steep slopes in the cool Alto Adige of Northern Italy, this is a lighter version of the aromatic Gewurztraminer compared to the Alsace style, which is very much to my taste and makes me happy if paired with ethnic or exotic cuisine. In addition, quality to price ratio is incredible!
Kylix (21,5 euros GMP)
COZs, vp-Vital 2020, Lisbon, Portugal
For those looking for something off the beaten track, the Portuguese vineyard is what they have in mind, which has much in common with the Greek vineyard in terms of old, forgotten indigenous varieties. Here we have two great producers who combined forces to give us this minimal approach wine in the Hatzidakis style, not made from Assyrtiko but from the Vital variety. At 27 euros, it’s a real catch.
Mr Vertigo (27,30 GMP)
Vacheron, Sancerre 2020, Sauvignon Blanc, Loire
Vacheron is the king of Sancerre with a wine history that goes back to the beginnings of the last century. He has a fantastic series of single vineyard wines, the apogee of which is the rare, mind-blowing L’Enclos des Remparts. Still, his simple Sancerre would be much envied by many producers worldwide, as it is amazingly complex with aromas of grapefruit rind, pear and smoky notes. The grapes are sourced from vines growing on three different soil types.
Cordis wines & spirits (35 euros GMP)
Mullineux Old Vines 2020, Chenin Blanc blend, South Africa
From one of the top wineries in South Africa, we have this lavish wine, round but not weighty or oily, based on old Chenin Blanc vines. With its price under 30 euros, your turkey will transform into a poulet de Bresse, in the least.
Deals (27 euros GMP)
Schloss Gobelsburg, Heiligenstein Riesling 2019, Kamptal, Austria
If a single vineyard in Austria is an absolute star, it will be that of Heiligenstein, which translates as “the stone of the Saints” and belongs to 50 producers (something like Clos Vougeot). Of these, the Schloss Gobelsburg produces a wine of great intensity and finesse that is rightly among the best Rieslings in the world.
Cellier (55,10 euros GMP)
Domaine du Pelican, Arbois Chardonnay Grand Curoulet 2020, Jura
Domaine du Pelican is the new project of the iconic producer Marquis d’ Angerville in Volnay and an opportunity to discover a great Chardonnay outside Burgundy, which is not as dear as Beluga caviar. A tiny bit of oak, as sharp as a Laguiole knife in character, and salinity which whets the appetite for the best shellfish. 2020 is still tight in the Chablis style, but with a few hours of decanting, I think it will be ready to be enjoyed.
Trinity (78,12 euros GMP)
Bouzereau, Meursault Les Tessons 2019, Burgundy
One can’t put down suggestions from the international wine scene without including the blessed village of Meursault. The producer Bouzereu creates a new generation Meursault with gentle oak and freshness, preserving the charming texture of these wines. A super Burgundy that, even now, is ready to give utmost pleasure.
Kylix (86,50 euros GMP)
Fattoria le Pupille, Saffrefi 2019, Tuscany, Italy
A Bordeaux blend based on Cabernet Sauvignon and Tuscan aura with its 32nd vintage on the market. It may not be as known in most countries as Sassicaia or Solaia, but one couldn’t imagine that the whole of Tuscany only makes two or three great wines. Only for epic circumstances, and if opened in its youth, it needs generous aeration to pair with the best meat you can get your hands on.
Tsaknakis (146 euros GMP)
Ben Rye Half Bottle 2020, Pantelleria
One of my favourite sweet wines made from Muscat of Alexandria grapes that are sun-dried under the scorching Sicilian sun on the islet of Pantelleria, the son of the Wind (as the name translates) is one of the grandest sweet wines in the world with unforgettable aromas of blossom honey, apricots and spices. Sweet, but not cloying, it’s an experience that should not be missed. It pairs beautifully with honey-soaked spicy Christmas sweets.
Jeroboam (49,50 euros GMP)