Friday, February 13, 2009

Greek Wines: Tsantali

Around 1890, Evangelos Tsantalis and his family, located in eastern Thrace, began to produce wine, ouzo and tsipouro. In 1945, a distillery was established in Thessaloniki and then in 1970, the Tsantali Winery was founded in Naousa. And then in 1991, Tsantali took over the Rapsani winery on mythical Mount Olympus, belonging until then to the Ministry of Agriculture. The third generation of the Tsantali family now continues to own and operate the winery. The winery practices organic agriculture and their goal is to produce quality, value wines.
The 2004 Tsantali Metoxi is made from grapes cultivated from a vineyard surrounding the St. Panteleimon cloister on the slopes of Mount Athos. The wine is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Limnio, which is a grape that possible extends back to ancient Greece. The wine was aged in new French oak for about eight months. This is a dark red colored wine with a bright red fruit nose. On the palate, there are rich cherry and raspberry flavors with some mild spicy notes. The tannins are moderate and overall the wine is very smooth and has a lengthy finish. On the finish, there is a bit of chocolate and leather. An interesting wine that I very much enjoyed and would recommend.
The 2004 Tsantali Rapsani Epilegmenos Reserve is made from grapes grown in vineyards located on the southern slopes of Mount Olympus, the mythical home of Greek gods. This red wine is a blend of 34% Xinomavro, 33% Krassato and 33% Stavroto. Many of the vines are thirty years old. The wine was aged in small, new French oak barrels for at least 12 months and then another 12 months in the bottle. It is a dark red, almost purple, colored wine with a strong nose of ripe plum and spice. On the palate, it is a rich, strong wine with intense black fruit flavors and some exotic spicy tones. It has a bit of tartness and moderate tannins. The finish is long and leaves you with an unusual, but pleasing taste. This wine epitomizes the unique different flavors you can find in indigenous Greek grapes. I highly recommend this wine and as it is only around $25, I consider it a good value too. Grab a porterhouse, a glass of this wine and savor both.

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