Greek Wine Summer Guide: [4 Χ 6]
As we get deeper into the heart of summer, some might say that consumption of wine becomes more and more challenging. Especially on very hot days. And nights. Those hardcore summer nights that smell like the gardenias outside a summer cinema (the ones we have in Greece) and taste like homemade lemonade and watermelon. And the would be right up to one point, since alcohol and heat are a particularly difficult combination. But when you know the challenges, you know the solutions, too.
General principles include:
- An ice bucket to chill the wine. This includes all types of wine, even reds! We want to enjoy them cool and not 'boiling hot'.
- A decent wine glass; this does not mean you need to splash out and buy the most expensive glass on the market.
- Lots of cold water to keep yourself hydrated. (My personal rule is having two glasses of water for each glass of wine).
- Responsibility and caution when consuming wine. Drink in moderation.
So what do we drink in the summer? A rather baffling question, particularly if you have to choose a wine from Greece and Grapes, that has the most complete selection available; more than 1000 Greek labels to choose from.
The Whites: They tend to monopolize summer preferences, so they make up the largest share in sales. Preferably elegant, not full-bodied wines, with a maximum alcohol level of around 13%, without intense oaky aromas. Try a light Assyrtiko, a creamy Vidiano from Crete, Robola of Cephalonia, a delicate Malagousia, a good quality Savatiano or Roditis.
The Rosés: The category has made a huge progress, leaving the old, candy-like Rosés in the past. There are now many well-made examples, with impressive fruit and freshness, balance and aftertaste. Their great advantage is that their versatility with food that goes from vegetables and on to BBQs, pasta and sea food, fried red mullets. Grilled octopus!
Look for authentic wines that are based on Greek autochthonous varieties with tension and acidity, and do not judge wines just by their colour. What glitters is not always gold, and the dark rosés can be superb, if the 'bubblegum/lollipop' recipe is avoided. They are often wines that pair easier with food than their colourless (often odourless) Provence type cousins.
The Reds: The least chosen in summer, but always part of the game. Think of a black fish, such as a black seabream or a dusky grouper paired with a Mavrodaphne or a Limniona. I'm certain you will be thanking me later on. Here, the secret is to go for smooth and silky wines, but which are not too tannic. Slightly chilled.
The "Natural" approach wines: Though there are many examples of "natural" wines that tend to hide their faults behind their name, with excessive acidity and aromas of bruised apple, honey, pear, orange peel and disappointment, some show that it is possible to produce wines with personality that are also delightful. Wines of texture, special fragrances and great complexity.
[Suggestions 4 Χ 6] most falling in my supernormal category of less than 15 euros.
The 6 Whites
Lyrarakis, 'Vóila' Assyrtiko, Crete 2018 | 8.60€
One of the most exciting Assyrtikos outside Santorini, from old vineyards in Sitia region at an altitude approaching 600 meters. Fruity but also mineral, with moderate weight and lemony aftertaste.
Mylonas, Malagousia 2018, Attica | 8.80€
An outstanding Malagousia from Stamatis Mylonas, that is hand harvested from three selected vineyards in the area of Keratea in Attica. After 3 months with the lees it develops extra body and aromatic complexity. Fruity and floral, with wonderful acidity and freshness.
Papagiannakopoulos, Kydonitsa 2018, Peloponnese | 9.60€
Panos Papayannakopoulos is a young, talented winemaker who aims to highlight the local varieties of the Peloponnese. With his Kydonitsa he managed to provide both aroma and texture to a demanding and upcoming variety.
Vouni Panayia, 'Alina' Xynisteri 2017, Paphos, Cyprus | 10.00€
One of the gemstones of the Cypriot vineyard, from 70 years old vines, at an altitude of 1.150 meters. On the palate, despite the low alcohol, the wine has structure and tension, with piercing lime and peach, followed by a lemony aftertaste.
Dio Ipsi. 'Dialogos' White 2018, Peloponnese | 11.50€
A smart blend of Kydonitsa and Assyrtiko, with high tension and crystal-clear fruit, from the region of Ilia, Peloponnese. Think of pure peach aromas, with herbal and quince notes, with energy and nerve. One more high-quality effort by Vassilis Tsaktsarlis and Ktima Biblia Chora.
Gentilini 'R', Robola 2015, Kefalonia | 27.50€
A fascinating new effort by Gentilini Winery in Kefalonia with grapes sourced from a specific vineyard with extremely steep gradient and gravelly soil, in the area of Fagias at an altitude of 850 meters. Own rooted, bush vines of 80 years of age, producing tiny yields. Here Robola is matured for 24 months with the lees, acquiring depth of fruit and a fatter mid-palate. In addition, the wine proves what Greek whites can deliver over time with extra care in the vineyard and the cellar. An excellent gastronomic wine to accompany complex pork or fish dishes. Produced in 950 bottles and 160 magnums.
The 6 Rosés
Moropoulos, Moschofilero Rosé 2018, Mantinia | 9.80€
A new interpretation of the Moschofilero variety from the upcoming Moropoulos winery, with the signature of winemaker Lefteris Anagnostou from Karamolegos, carrying all the classic Mantinia features, vinified as a rosé wine. Aromatic with pure red fruit, crunchy cherries and raspberries, along crème patisserie nuances. On the palate this is lively with punchy fruit and a vein of acid, providing intensity and lift.
Lenga, Pink 2018, Evia | 11.50€
The new rosé wine of Avantis Estate comes stylistically between the classic Avantis Rosé and the Falcons Hill, with an almost sensual blend of Mavrokoundoura and the fragrant Gewurztraminer. Pink-salmon color that continues with a nose of flowers with aromas of roses, turkish delight and citrus. Dry, soft as a hug with excellent balance.
Muses, A.muse 2018, Central Greece | 12.80€
A brilliant blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Mouchtaro, the latter being a bet for Zacharias family. Gentle on the palate and delightful, with Mouchtaro soothing the explosive aromatic character of Sauvignon, providing depth of fruit and complexity.
Volacus, Rozaki 2018, Tinos | 13.90€
Investing and discovering more on local varieties of Tinos was the main goal of producer Michalis Kontizas, when he bought a piece of land in Falatados, scattered with huge, imposing granitic rocks (in Tinos these are called "Volakes"). Following his two very successful white labels of Malagousia and Assyrtiko he placed his next bet on Rozaki, aiming to unfold its virtues. Limited production of this fascinating wine that has a lot to reveal, both for the variety and for the winemaker.
Petrakopoulos, Roz 2018, Kefalonia | 14.50€
The artisanal winery of Nikos Petrakopoulos captures the terroir of Kefalonia on each label. The cultivation is organic and the approach is hands-free, resulting in some of the most authentic wines in the country. Roz is the rosé version of Mavrodaphne, a variety that the winery has invested a lot. Attractive pale salmon colour and at the same time fruity and fresh on the nose. Elegant on the palate with a sweet feel of roses, cherries and caramel.
Gerovassiliou, Xinomavro Rosé 2018, Macedonia | 16.20€
Sourced from young Xinomavro vines, from the privately owned Gerovassiliou vineyard in Epanomi, Thessaloniki. Tight on the palate, with tension and the telltale Xinomavro mouthwatering acidity, along a core of red cherries and raspberries. With a screw cap that has been proven to help preserve the wine's freshness.
The 6 Reds
Diamantakis, 'Petali' 2017, Crete | 9.50€
Liatiko makes a statement for Greek wine, combining ripeness with solid tannic structure and a wonderful aromatic bouquet. Diamantakis winery in Asites of Heraklion produces one of the best wines which was awarded with a Gold medal in 2019 Decanter Awards. Soft red color, reminiscent of mature Barolo or Pinot Noir. Lovely red cherry, pomegranate and wild strawberry in the nose, along with flowery notes. Elegant on the palate, with silky tannins. A wonderful summer red wine.
Tetramythos, Mavro Kalavrytino 'Naturε' 2018, Achaia, Peloponnese | 10.50€
A wine of high altitude, exceeding 700 meters and hands off vinification by Panagiotis Papagiannopoulos. It shows an intense nose with violet, cherry and some blackberry, combining freshness and maturity. Velvety on the palate, with tension and elegance (without any new oak).
Athanasiou, Agiorgitiko 2018, Nemea | 10.90€
Athanasiou winery is one of the emerging names of the Nemea landscape, giving emphasis on organic farming and excellent quality of fruit. Their Agiorgitiko is fruity and charming, whilst also excellent value for money.
Dalamara, Merle 2018, Macedonia | 10.90€
Α surprisingly delicious Merlot from Dalamara winery produced in a fresh style, for immediate consumption. Unoaked to create a soft and juicy wine, that delivers though the telltale Dalamaras fingerprint. Very pure fruit, effortless, with high drinkability. A perfect summer wine.
Thymiopoulos, Naoussa Alta 2016, Naoussa | 13.70€
A cool climate in character Xinomavro from high latitude Fitia terroir showing off the power and energy of the mountainous terroir. It has beautiful floral and cherry-like aromas, that also include the tomato and truffle scents. A combination of stony terrain and altitude - that with only 12.5% alcohol expresses so much flavor and gives Xinomavro another dimension.
Oenops, Limniona 2017 | 16.40€
Οne of the three single varietal wines from Oenops Wines and Nikos Karatzas, the Limniona was fermented in 60% amphora with the rest in 500 lts oak. Limited release of 1.300 bottles. 13% abv. Very appealing nose with black cherries, sweet spice with a delicious smoky element. Fruity, exotic and silky on the palate with round acid and perfect tannins.
The 6 Natural wines
Tetramythos, Roditis 'Naturε' 2018, Achaia, Peloponnese | 11.50€
The winemaking takes place very slowly and as naturally as possible while the wine is left with the lees for 5 months. The result is a natural wine that combines oxidative honey & nuts notes with crystal clear fruit like unripe peach and notes of acacia. Medium bodied with a fine balance. An outstanding -natural in approach- wine.
Mylonas, 'Naked Truth' Savatiano 2016. Attica | 13.20€
Naked Truth is a unique, single vineyard skin contact expression of Savatiano of Attica from Vouno region. It is produced from very low yields of 20hl/ha and stays with the skins for 10 days. The result a delicious skin contact wine, offering another dimension of the variety. White flowers, lemon and musk on the nose, with a nutty element. The palate is in perfect balance, with the acidity providing nerve and tension, while the tannins are soft on the finish. A "naked" interpretation of the Attica Terroir.
Sant'Or, Santameriana Orange Amphora 2018, Peloponnese | 15.90€
A skin contact Santameriana (Aprouda Patron) from one of the country's most authentic winemakers, Panagiotis Dimitropoulos, who has adopted biodynamics and waits for the Demeter certification. Aromas of bergamot, orange and white pepper, with scents of honey and fresh grapes. Well integrated tannins and mineral notes on the palate, soft acidity with fruity aftertaste. An excellent natural wine (also vegan certified) for the adventurous consumers.
Chatzivaritis, Negoska Carbonic 2018, Macedonia | 16.40€
Chloe Chatzivariti is experimenting at the family winery and this year she releases, in a very limited quantity, a new, charming, perfect-for-summer Negoska. This is vinified with whole bunches. A wonderful fruity and aromatic wine to be enjoyed chilled and a new dimension to a demanding variety such as Negoska.
Kamara, Pure Nimbus Ritinitis 2018, Macedonia | 21.80€
A Retsina reloaded that is made as natural as possible with a skin contact method. Explosive aromatically with citrus aromas along white pepper, ginger and herbal nuances. A layered, complex and gastronomic wine.
Avantis, 'Freedom' Syrah 2016. Evia | 26.70€
Freedom is the new effort of Avantis Estate and winemaker Apostolos Moudrichas, to express Syrah in a pure and natural way. Natural winemaking with indigenous yeasts. Bottled unfiltered, with no SO2 addition and further aged in the bottle for 12 months. No oak. Fruity and peppery wine with supple tannins, in a pure and charming version.
First published in Greece and Grapes