Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Greek Wines: Gai'a Wines

I began my exploration of Greek wines at the Boston Wine Expo with some white wines, from various producers. But for my tasting notes, I am going to try to separate the wines by producer, and touch on all of the wines I tried from each producer. I am beginning with Gai'a Wines, S.A. as the first wine I tried at the Expo was one of their whites.

Gai'a Wines was founded in 1994 by Leon Karatsalos (an agronomist from the University of Thessaloniki) and Yiannis Paraskevopoulos (an agronomist from the University of Thessaloniki and a Doctor of Enology from the University of Bordeaux). "Gai'a" in Greek means "earth." Their goal is to state-of-the-art technology and techniques to capitalize on the great potential of indigenous Greek grapes.

The first wine was the 2007 Gai'a Notios White, from the Peloponnese region. "Notios" in Greek means “The one that comes from the South.” This wine is made from a blend of two grapes, 50% Moschofilero (which provides a floral flavor) and 50% Roditis (which adds a lemony flavor). I found this wine to be crisp and easy drinking, with nice citrus flavors including lemon and peach and a touch of floral aroma. An excellent wine for seafood. As this wine is inexpensive, likely around $12-$15, it is a good value wine.

I should also note that their Notios Red was one of my top ten wines under $15 for 2008.

The 2007 Gai'a Thalassitis is from the island of Santorini. The Thalassitis was the first wine produced by Gai'a Wines. In ancient Greece, they sometimes mixed wine with sea water, which was thought to give the wine therapeutic value. This blended wine was called "Thalassitis inos” ("sea–originated wine"), and thus the name of this wine.

The Thalassitis is a white wine made from 100% Assyrtiko and the vineyard is located on the southeastern slopes of Episkopi. The vines are 70-80 years old, ungrafted and with a very low yield. I found the wine to be dry with a bit of tartness as well as citrus flavors and a decent finish. It has its own unique flavor though, almost a strange fruit flavor, that makes it distinctive. This is definitely a wine that pairs best with food, something to mellow its tartness.

The 2005 Gai’a Estate Red is from the Koutsi region of Nemea. This red wine is made from 100% Agorgitiko, the St. George grape, and is a limited limited production wine. The vineyard is about twenty-five years old and is intentionally monitored to ensure a low yield. The wine is aged for 12 month in new French oak casks and is unfiltered.

This was a dark, big and powerful wine, with ripe black fruit flavors, plenty of spice and a long, satisfying finish. Yet there was a unique flavor within the complex flavors of this wine, something that set it apart from similar international wines. This was a very impressive wine, showcasing the high quality you can find in Greece. Pair this up with beef!

These wines are available through Athenee Importers.

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