The ancient Greeks had a significant wine culture and you can catch a glimpse of that history in the wines of Greece. Need more motivation? Let me provide you Ten Reasons To Drink Greek Wine, plenty of incentives to be more adventurous and seek out the intriguing and delicious wines of Greece. If you get a chance to drink Greek wines, take it.
BISq, the sister restaurant of Bergamot (which is one of my favorites), held their first wine dinner, a Greek wine event, showcasing the wines of the Parparoussis Winery. I attended as a media guest and it was my first visit to Bisq, and certainly won't be my last. Chef Dan Bazzinotti created a special five-course dinner, with Greek roots, to accompany the Greek wines. In short, Chef Bazzinotti presented plenty of tasty food which paired well with the various wines.
Parparoussis Winery was founded in Achaia by Athanassios (Thanassis) Parparoussis (pictured above). The region of Achaia is located n the northwestern part of the Peloponnese of Greece. The winery is situated in the Bozaitika neighborhood of Patras, the capital city of Achaia. Patras is sometimes called Greece's "Gate to the West" as it is a very busy port for trade to the rest of Europe.
Athanassios studied oenology at the University of Bourgogne in Dijon, France and after graduation worked for a time at Moet & Chandon. When he moved back home to Patras, he decided to start his own winery and initially planted both indigenous grapes and international grapes but in time, he began moving toward primarily indigenous grapes, to promote the uniqueness of these Greek grapes. Currently, the winery owns vineyards at Bozaitika and Movri Achaias and also purchases some grapes from about seven small growers. Their vineyards are planted with about 55% white grapes and 45% red. In addition, they practice organic viticulture, though they are not certified, and use indigenous yeasts.
His father, who is still alive at 106 years old, was originally a spirits distiller and Athanassios said he is "always a happy guy." They still have a distillery on their estate, using it to make their own eau de vie. Athanassios continues to work at the winery and is now helped by two of his daughters, Erifili and Dimitra. Athanassios said that "a winemaker only gets one chance a year to make wine, so he is always experimenting." One of his current experiments is a 100% Assyrtiko, which is more austere and complex.
Athanassios acknowledged that climate change has been in issue, though the summers generally have remained hot and dry. The primary problem is in the fall when it becomes a serious guessing game of when the rains will come. Thus, they need to make careful judgments of when to harvest the grapes to avoid those rains, though there is little they can do to combat this problem. The goal of Athanassios is to produce elegant wines and not "body builders," high alcohol wines.
As an aside, it should be noted that many of the soils of their vineyards possess plenty of trace metals, due to a large sulfur eruption centuries ago. The effect is that their wines tend to have a strong minerality to them.
This wine was fermented at low temperatures, has an alcohol content of 12.5%, and only about 1500 cases were made. It does not see any oak, and Athanassios said Sideritis doesn't possess the power to handle oak aging. It was a bright yellow color with some greenish notes and had an alluring aroma of citrus. On the palate, it was very crisp, dry and possessed tasty flavors of citrus and pear with briny and mineral notes. As the Sideritis vineyard is about 5 kilometers from the sea, it picks up a briny element. It would be an excellent seafood wine, from oysters to grilled cod.
The winery also makes Sideritis Rosé and an Eau de Vie with Sideritis, aging it for 12 years in Limousin oak casks (though it is not yet available in the U.S.).
This was a pleasant wine, with dark berry flavors, mild tannins, spice notes, and good acidity. There were some mineral notes, which differs from many other Cabernets. However, though tasty, it wasn't a particularly exciting wine, and for the most part, you might think it came from almost any wine region.
In general, the wines of Parparoussis provide value for their price point, offering complexity, intriguing flavor profiles and a fine taste. Concentrating on indigenous Greek grapes, practicing organic viticulture and using indigenous yeasts, the winery has a compelling philosophy too. These aren't entry level Greek wines, but if you started your Greek wine experience with these wines, you would be impressed. Seek out the wines of Parparoussis and get a taste of history.
And check out Bisq too, and learn why so many people are enamored with this new restaurant.