Festive Bottles (Greek wines up to 25 euros)
By Yiannis Karakasis MW
It's relatively easy and catchy to write about expensive bottles of wine, to suggest a Puligny-Montrachet, Château Palmer and Tignanello, but what happens when you're looking for high-quality at regular prices? Is there a best value for money wine, or is that an illusion because it means something entirely different for each person and very much depends (mostly) on how much money one can spend and how a specific wine makes you feel? In all honesty, the lower the price, the fewer chances of finding something remarkable. Except if one is looking for something which is only "drinkable".
The likely scenario when buying at the lowest price would be high yields and bought in grapes, generally meaning less control over grape quality and low-concentration wines. This does not necessarily mean that the wine is undrinkable; it is no secret that the "bad" wines of the past have mostly disappeared due to the progress of winemaking over the last few decades. What we are looking for, or rather, what I am looking for, is not just a faultless wine but a wine with an identity, which you have more probability of coming across if you spend just a little more.
For the festive days ahead, I would place the mark at 25 euros retail price. One can still find some gems at this price point, and I am looking for the best of those on the market. Fine wines are always great, but discovering hidden gems is sometimes more of a joy.
Ktima Chrisostomou, Barrel Malagousia 2021, Central Greece
A single varietal Malagousia that strays from the norm of stainless steel fermentation, as this ferments and matures in French oak for six months without masking its varietal character. Contrarily, Chrisostomou Malagousia overflows with floral and herbal aromas together with aromas of grapefruit and quince. A juicy, quaffable and gastronomic wine.
13 euros (all prices are domestic retail market in Greece)
Muses Estate, Crispy Assyrtiko 2021, Muses Valley, Central Greece
A wanna be Santorini Assyrtiko but originating from the Muses Valley in Central Greece. A mineral style from 50 yr old bush vines full of lemon rind and peach aromas. The fruit on the palate is balanced by its structure and vivacity.
Moropoulos, Noemvris Late Harvest Moschofilero 2020, Mantinia, Peloponnese
A promising effort from the Moropoulos family winery in Mantinia that expresses the aromatic Moschofilero differently, as it harvests late in mid-November. The aromas are sweeter, in the Alsace style, with aromas of pear compote, dried rose petals and apple sauce. A round palate would pair beautifully with the Christmas turkey.
Sarris, Panohori Old Vines Robola 2021, Cephalonia
From up-and-coming Cephalonia, a Robola with impressive aromatic complexity. Sweet nectarines with notes of citrus fruit, almonds and a touch of coconut. As positive on the palate as on the nose, with slightly less of an edge if compared to classic Robolas, but in exchange, a magical creamy texture and lovely depth of fruit. From an owned 40 yr old vineyard in Panohori. One of the wines from the 50 Great Greek Wines – The List.
Volacus, Assyrtiko 2021, Tinos
An islandic Assyrtiko from Tinos island that combines a mineral character on the nose with a fuller, oily texture on the palate with nutty notes. A "child" of Mihalis Kontizas from the granitic terroir of Falatados. It will pair well with any seafood or poultry dish you choose for the festive season.
Ekho white 2021, Naxos
The most exciting thing happening recently in the Greek wine scene, the Ekho project, is a new venture that deals with old vines from areas of historical significance with the signature of talented and active winemaker Lefteris Anagnostou. The grapes are sourced from a mountainous vineyard at about 600m elevation in central Naxos. A field blend of rare white varieties based on Potamisi, Aidani and Karaibraim. Self-rooted vines, over 150 years old, low yielding, on terraces. Lees ageing for ten months. Herbal on the nose with sweet aromas of apricot, including some herbaceous notes, whereas on the palate, it is sharp in a Santorinean style, slightly salty with much tension—a crystalline wine with depth of fruit and good concentration.
25 euros email@example.com
Noema, Invicta 2019, Xinomavro, Amyndeo
Another one of the wines from 50 Great Greek Wines-The List that matures in 300lt French oak barrels for six months. Crunchy with crystal red fruit, almost ethereal. Harmonious on the palate with tannins that melt, and despite being on the fresh side of the spectrum, it shows lovely fruit together with light notes of tomato leaf, olive brine and herbs. Excellent; also, its alcohol is on the lower end of the scale at 12% abv.
Endohora, Kotsifali 2020, Chania, Crete
Endohora is a new Lilliputian winery situated in the eastern area of Chania in Crete that produces a total of 6000 bottles a year from owned vineyards, and everything is done by the hands of the producer/vigneron Mihalis Tsafarakis. Organic methods and a minimalistic approach are responsible for a "pure" Kotsifali that shows fresh cherry, some tobacco and spices. Juicy, velvety on the palate with a savoury finish. Alcohol 14.2% abv.
Vouni Panayia, Plakota 2020, Cyprus
From Cyprus's highlands, the Kyriakidis family blends two promising indigenous Cypriot varieties, Mavro and Maratheftiko. The result is an enjoyable, juicy, authentic wine that confirms that the Cypriot vineyard has potential—from limestone and schist soils fermented in stainless steel. Alcohol 13% abv.
Makarounas, Maratheftiko Single Vineyard 2019, Cyprus
The signature variety of talented producer Thodoris Makarounas from the family winery of the same name in Letimbou of Pafos. Exclusively from owned vineyards, a wine with tension, energy, and enough tannins to complement the fresh red fruit. Who said Maratheftiko was not capable of great wines?