Festive Wines Part 1
For quite a few people, me included, the festive season goes far beyond New Year's day extending well into mid January. This is a special period of the year that gives me the opportunity to become more adventurous and risky perhaps, both in the wine choices and related food pairings. Part 1 consists of international and Greek wines that I really enjoyed drinking with a dash of saké as a cherry topping. Part 2 will follow, even stronger I hope!
Lykos Malagousia 2016 12.5% (Evia Island)
From the island of Evia this is more herbal than floral on the nose with zesty pink grapefruit and crystalline freshness. Zesty also on the palate with sweet fruit, good concentration and scented juicy finish. A terrific value for money wine at €10 retail. 89/100
Mylonas Savatiano 2016 12% (Attica-Central Greece)
Creamy biscuits on the nose along pure, juicy stone fruit. Excellent quality of fruit here suggesting a terrific vintage. Round and nutty this is fresh, vibrant and very elegant with real substance on the palate. Definitely a step forward for Savatiano. Overdelivers for its price tag of €7 retail. 91/100
Zind Humbrecht Roche Calcaire 2014
Calcaire comes from a limestone terroir and vines more than 24 years of age on average. Lively, honeyed nose expressing the textbook Alsatian richness. From selected vineyards in Clos Jebsal, Clos Windsbuhl and Heimbourg this is full bodied and structured with high concentration giving a sweet sensation despite being totally dry. Fine pairing with the festive mushroom and chestnut soup. 92/100.
Karamolegos Pyritis 2015 (Santorini)
From three parcels in Pyrgos and Megalochori villages in Santorini Pyritis in an impressive cuvée with a fruity core retaining the mineral soul of the terroir. Athletic wine with purity of fruit balancing finely between richness and elegance. Moreover a fantastic match with Bresse chicken. 92/100
Melissinos Mavro 2014, 14% (Cephalonia)
Complex, savoury and plummy nose with mineral and meaty undertones. Refined and elegant on the palate not missing in concentration or fruit density, Mavro is a fascinating multi-dimensional Mavrodaphne (unfortunately legislation does not permit to name the variety on the label) with perfectly ripe and fluid tannins and a rewarding finish. 92/100
Sclavos Synodos 2014 (Cephalonia)
The second wine from the gorgeous island of Cephalonia in the Ionian Sea comes from own-rooted 40 years old bush vines of mainly Mavrodaphne with a dash of white Vostilidi to mellow the rusticity of Mavrodaphne. Exceptional expression for this terroir-driven wine. Nose starts quite gamey with masses of black cherries and plums along dark chocolate and savoury notes. Improves over time and needs a minimum of half an hour decanting. Detailed, precise with fine texture and concentrated with solid, yet ripe tannins this wine combines race and finesse. 91/100
Ampeloeis Silver 2013 14% (Macedonia, Northern Greece)
30% maturation in barriques, 30% in 4 tns big casks and 40% in stainless steel has resulted in excellent oak integration for this Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend from Northern Greece. Sweet plummy nose with juicy black cherries and mint. Velvety on the palate, just a touch chocolaty overall polished and expressive this a very good blend of international varieties. 90/100
Gaja Barbaresco 2005
From a lesser vintage perhaps but nonetheless a deliciously structured and classy wine. Tar, roses, violets and cherries on the nose. Much more impressive on the palate packed with powdery tannins and firm structure. Cherries and raspberries on the finish. Decanting will be rewarded. 93/100
The first cherry topping is a Nigori unfiltered saké that matched an outstanding omakase menu in MySushi restaurant in Athens. This category was once very popular and represents the cloudy or milky saké category. Unfiltered “Nigori” saké is a brew that has been coarsely filtered to allow the unfermented rice particles to remain in the sake to increase feeling and flavour. 15% abv and with a touch of sweetness. Perfect alternative to a Riesling, Assyrtiko or Gewurztraminer.
Cherry topping number two is a historic wine from Argyros Estate, a Vinsanto elixir from vintage 1988 that has spent 20 years in oak. Raisins, coffee, dried figs, oxidative complexity, chocolate are all there! Mellow on the palate with excellent integration of all elements this is an epic wine with memorable aftertaste. 96/100