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07 February 2023

Favourite full-bodied Greek reds

By Yiannis Karakasis MW

Without the slightest doubt, Greek red winemaking has shifted towards softer wines with less extraction, alcohol and new oak ageing. Also, very often now, older oak and larger format casks are preferred instead. However, for those that continue to be bolder, fuller wines, there is certainly a better balance and more freshness in the fruit, avoiding the 'porty' character prevalent previously, which makes me especially happy.

Up to just a few years ago, Greek reds were indeed heavily oaked and full-throttled. Now, it is not an exaggeration to say that I struggle to find these sort of expressions as progress in the vineyard and the winery is responsible for more terroir-driven wines with better fruit definition and purity.

So here are my suggestions for the cold winter days ahead:

Biblia Chora, Ovilos Red 2019, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pangaio

This states 15% on the label, which is very well integrated. A top vintage and meticulous viticulture are responsible for one of the grandest expressions of the variety in Greece full of cassis, cedar and mint. Impressively elegant palate with fine-grained tannins which are firm framed by juicy fruit. Ages 14 months in oak, vines are approaching 20 yo of age.  

Domestic market 40 euros

Markogianni, Aheron Kolliniatiko 2020

This is possibly the only single varietal expression of this rare variety (Kolliniatiko) planted in the Peloponnese. Fermented in 60% stainless steel and 40% third-use oak, this has a garnet colour with a ripe nose expressive of figs and black cherries. The surprise is, however, on the palate, where there is an explosion of acid and tannins. Intriguing effort and wine. 14% abv

Domestic market 18 euros

Monsieur Nicolas (Karamitros winery), Paradise Can Wait 2019, Syrah, Central Greece

Expressive nose with violet and pot-pourri scented fruit. Mulberries and boysenberries paired with some meaty notes. Full-bodied on the palate but delicious and inviting. Densely packed fruit and creamy oak with nice peppery spice towards the finish.

Domestic market 18,60 euros

Parparoussis, Limited Edition Pronomio 2018, Peloponnese

Agiorgitiko 95%, Mavrodaphne 3%, Mavroudia 2% (very few vines of Mandilari, Mavrotragano, Mavrathiro, Caraibrahimi) 13.5% abv stated on the label. Grapes sourced from Gymno village in Nemea and western Achaia, gravel soil at 600 m elevation. Deep garnet with ripe cherries, tobacco and some herbal notes on the nose indicative of Mavrodaphne. Full-bodied with velvety tannins, very refined, long aftertaste. Delicious effort.

Domestic market 28 euros 

Papaioannou, Nemea 2019, Agiorgitiko, Peloponnese

14.5% Now, here, a little freshness would boost complexity and balance, but again the wine sings. Silky and charming with soft acidity and solid tannins. This should age very well. Hard to beat value for money.

Domestic market 9.5 euros 

Petrakopoulos, Mavro 2020, Mavrodaphne, Cephalonia

Dry Mavrodaphne at its best with moderate 13.5% abv but plenty of richness and concentration. Spicy, perfumed and herbal with pixelated tannins, this demands ageing but can be enjoyed with a couple of hours of decanting. Old vine supreme elegance and power.

Domestic market 28 euros 

Tselepos, Cava Driopi 2017, Agiorgitiko-Cabernet Sauvignon, Peloponnese

Cava Driopi 2017 makes its debut by blending 70% Agiorgitiko from Koutsi in Nemea with 30% Cab. Sauvignon from a single vineyard in Tegea, Arcadia. This is a full-throttled wine but also athletic and elegant with depth of fruit and tremendous intensity. A heavenly marriage of these two varieties with chewy tannins built for the long term. 14.5% abv

Domestic market 28 euros 

Wine Art, Anafora 2019 Limniona, Drama

A new effort by Wine Art Estate in Drama, Macedonia this states 13.5% abv on the label. Deep-ruby with a perfumed nose with lots of primary fruit, violets and a splash of vanilla. For all the ripeness on the palate there is delicate extraction, fine balance and a good level of acidity (despite the variety's low natural acidity), leading to a long-lasting finish. 

Domestic market 25 euros

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