Greek wine in Australia
It has been a fascinating week Down Under full of promotional activities for Greek wine, masterclasses and trade tastings organised by New Wines of Greece association. Things started in Sydney, moving on to Melbourne and last as cherry topping to Adelaide.
As I find some time to put my thoughts into writing, I have to say I truly believe in the potential of Greek wine in the Australian market; Greek wine can never be mainstream because of its low production of less than 2.7 mhl per annum and the huge diversity of indigenous varieties it offers, so it needs to be sold in premium selling points. It furthermore needs open wine - minded people eager for new discoveries.
And it happens to be that the Aussie market possesses these characteristics being open for the wines of the world, especially in Sydney and Melbourne, two markets that are eclectic and with a strong Greek community, Melbourne in particular. On the other hand Adelaide and Brisbane may be good for selling international varieties which is another strong point of the Greek wine industry, especially the Syrah range all over Greece and Cabernet Sauvignon in cooler mesoclimates.
The wine trip included a series of four masterclasses in each city, one of those co-presented with Peter Barry (shown below) of Jim Barry wines. As I wrote last year in jancisrobinson.com Peter Barry has invested time and money bringing Assyrtiko in Australia and experimenting with it since 2014. Now he is ready to release commercially the 2016 vintage in two tiers one at $35 and another at $50 AUS. He says that respect comes with price and he is spot on!
It was an absolute delight to taste side by side Assyrtikos from Santorini, mainland Greece and Clare Valley (shown below)! Peter is also a great presenter believing that Greek wine should be marketed only in premium price tags and if a wine shows a true character should not cost less than 35 $AUS. He repeatedly said during masterclasses that ‘’you shouldn’t care what you pay for Greek wine. It is worth it!’’
I will get back to Peter in another post since there are a lot to be said for his amazing effort and plans for the future.
The ''Emerging Varieties'' masterclass did get a lot of attention as well since many people were looking for the next discovery after Assyrtiko. A lot of candidates in there like Xinomavro, Agiorgitiko, Robola, Vidiano, Malagousia and Moschofilero. Take your pick of the next variety planted at a considerable extent outside Greece.
Media dinners and hospitality tastings were other strong points of the activities. There I was happy to see the versatility of Greek wine with spicy and ethnic cuisine when in an outstanding dinner in Supernormal restaurant in Melbourne, all wines proved worthy of matching very spicy food with its low alcohol and freshness concerning the whites. Spicy marinated calamari with Moschofilero and szechuan lamb with Limniona were absolutely thrilling combinations.
I did also have the chance to see old friends like Bill Drakopoulos, Conrad from the Wine Wankers, Martin Williams and Meg Brodtmann MW but also meet new like Andrea Frost, David Lemire MW, Michael Hill Smith MW and of course Drew Noon and Andrea Pritzker.
Greek wine has come a long way and has evolved nicely since the days of bad Retsina. In fact some premium very good quality Retsina is also produced besides the terroir wines of Santorini, Naoussa, Nemea, Mantinia, Crete, Cephalonia, Rapsani and Macedonia! Consumers and wine enthusiasts should keep their palates open for many new discoveries.