Mid-Summer Wine Discoveries
By Yiannis Karakasis MW
What I truly love about Greek wine is its constant change. Just when you think you've tried everything, a unique wine like the Tranambelo Odd Blend from Naxos Island surprises you. It brings you back to reality and reminds you that Greece is currently one of the hottest places for wine. As we're in the middle of August, here are a few favourites I've enjoyed recently.
Vriniotis, Retsina of Gialtra - 12.6% abv
It's no secret that nowadays, everyone looks at Retsina from a different perspective, and we are delighted and proud to talk about it in markets all over the world. Here, Konstantinos Vriniotis fulfils a personal goal and revives the Retsina of Gialtra after five decades.100% Roditis from pre-phylloxera vines creates a crystal-clear wine with a lemony character, incredible acidity, and a touch of saltiness, while the resin balances wonderfully in the overall blend.
Kounakis, Athiri 2022, Rhodes - 11% abv
Athiri, a variety typically known for its neutral character, undergoes a remarkable transformation when sourced from old vines (as seen with those planted in 1920) and unique terroirs, such as the limestone plateaus of Mount Attaviros in Rhodes. With efforts like those of the Kounakis winery, Athiri gains a mineral/salty dimension and greater fruit density, demonstrating that it can play a leading role. €12.30 (all prices as for the domestic market)
Moinotera, Vilana Vathipetro 2021, Crete - 12.4% abv
One of the most distinctive and impressive wines I've recently tasted, that brings the Cretan Vilana to the forefront for me again. Besides the expected lemony notes, it also showcases herbal elements and a wonderful texture and roundness in the mouth. Coming from the historical region of Vathipetro in Heraklion and being the first effort of the Moinotera winery.
Petrakopoulos, Artana Muscat 2022, Cephalonia - 13% abv
Petrakopoulos Winery in Thiramona, on the beautiful island of Cephalonia, is certainly not a discovery, as it produces some of the most cutting-edge white and red wines from the Robola and Mavrodaphne varieties. However, a sip of this delightful Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains demonstrates what the variety can offer when treated with respect, expressing much more than the stereotypical floral notes. Artana Muscat, made from old organically grown vines, is concentrated on the palate with a lovely texture and depth of fruit, while jasmine and roses scents accompany more earthy undertones. €22.30
Koukos, Sideritis Electra 2022, Peloponnese – 12.7% abv
Koukos Winery is located southwest of Patras and focuses on cultivating organic vineyards. The winery produces two wines from the pink-skinned Sideritis grape, a variety that deserves more attention. Electra is an intriguing version of orange wine, displaying finely crafted tannins and a playful palate, while the aromas take the lead with cherry, earthy tones, and grapefruit. €12.00
Τranambelo, Odd Blend 2022, Naxos
A standout gem sourced from Naxos, the wine is a harmonious blend of Potamisi, Aidani, Monemvasia, and Fokiano grapes. It graciously delivers immediate enjoyment yet intriguingly holds a layer of gentle tannins within it. The creative synergy between Lefteris Anagnostou and Konstantinos Makridimitris, whose names have become familiar through their work with Ekho Wines, is further enriched by the artistic touch of Marios Karystios in branding. The "Trana Ampelia" (meaning Grand Vines in Greek) now begins to unfold its power. €17.80
Terra Grazia, Rose 2022, Naxos -13% abv
Another recommendation from Naxos is the debut wine of Terra Grazia winery. This wine, crafted with care by oenologist Grigoris Skopelitis, features Fokiano grapes from old vines and schist soil. It presents well balanced aromas, a long aftertaste, and a robust structure, defying the "rosé bubblegum" category and laying the foundation for a rosé that can age. It showcases a lovely herbal character on the finish, with a gentle "kiss" of tannins. €45.00
Aori, Kotsifali 2022, Crete - 12.5% abv
The effort of Aimílios Andréi is one of the most distinctive in Crete, as with hard work, few words, and courtesy, he places his mark on the island's wine scene. Old vines, and in this case pre-phylloxera ones, low-intervention winemaking, and fermentation with whole clusters for a more aromatic character, all come together to create a charmingly perfumed and peppery Kotsifali, which forms a lovely pair with the already well-known Aori Muscat. It is expected to be released in early September.
Apostolidis, Karapapas Palaiochori 2022, Kavala - 12.5% abv
The first appearance of the Karapapas variety from biodynamic-certified Domaine Apostolidis comes after a struggle for revival spanning years. Partial fermentation in 500-lit barrels and the rest in stainless steel tanks with a percentage of whole clusters. Maturation for seven months in old barrels results in an intriguing taste profile with abundant red fruit and herbal character, all integrated into a philosophy of elegance and Burgundian approach. €15.00
Juliet & Romeo, Pinot Noir 2020, Peloponnese - 13% abv
The second vintage of this particular Pinot Noir, under the oenological guidance of Kyriakos Kinigopoulos, exhibits a "Burgundy-like" character on the nose, with floral aromas, spicy notes, and a silky texture. On the palate, it is tight at the moment but certainly lays the foundation as one of the best Pinot Noir wines in the country. It will be very interesting to see how it evolves over time. €31.00