Sunday, March 21, 2010

Greek Wines: Athenee Importers-Part 2

Yesterday, I provided some Greek wine recommendations, and I am continuing, giving even more recommendations of the most compelling wines I sampled at a recent Greek wine tasting held by Athenee Importers.

Argyros Estate:

Founded in 1903, the family-owned Argyros Estate is located on the island of Santorini. The vineyards cover 64 acres, and some vines as as old as 300 years. The winery concentrates on indigenous grapes and is very well known for its Vin Santo.

The 2008 Atlantis White is a blend of 90% Assyrtiko, 5% Aidani, and 5% Athiri, all indigenous Greek grapes. This wine lures you in with his fruity nose, lots of citrus, and then follows through on your palate with those same tastes. Very crisp and easy-drinking, this is another excellent summer wine, as well as a very good food wine. Though simple, it still has some character, and is a good value wine.

The 2007 Atlantis Red is a blend of 90% Mandilaria and 10% Mavrotragano, also indigenous grapes. Initially, this wine reminded me a bit of Dr. Pepper, without the effervesnce, though that is not a bad thing as I like the taste of Dr. Pepper. There were sweet fruit flavors, some caramel notes and touches of spice. The finish lingers and it leaves you satisfied. It was actually an intriguing wine, but I am unsure whether everyone will like this one. But I think it is worth checking out.

The 2002 Vin Santo Mezzo is a blend of 80% Assyrtiko, 10% Aidani, and 10% Athiri. The grapes were dried in the sun for six to seven days, aged in French oak for five years, and has an alcohol content of 14%. This compelling wine has fascinating honey and tropical fruit flavors, is not too sweet, and lingers pleasantly in your mouth for quite a time. A complex and flavorful wine, I heartily recommend this vin santo. Pair this with a delicious fruit dessert or just savor a glass after dinner.

Domaine Harlaftis:

Founded in 1932, this winery first planted vineyards on the slopes of Mount Pendeli in Stamata, not far from Athens. When they eventually had to sell much of that property, they acquired another vineyard in Nemea. They still own six acres in Stamata and their vineyards are planted with indigenous and international varieties, including Savatiano, Asyritiko, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Their vineyards are also organic.

The 2008 Harlaftis Nemea is a red wine made from Agiorgitiko, and has spent twelve months in old French oak. A pleasant, easy-drinking wine it possesses delicious bright, red fruit flavors with mild spice notes and hints of leather. The tannins are relatively mild and the finish is moderate.

The 2001 Reserve Nemea is also made from Agiorgitiko but it is more of a high-end wine, a wine meant to ponder and savor, rather than just guzzle and enjoy. The grapes are from 50 year old vines, and the wine has spent three years in French oak. This is a smooth, complex wine with a very lengthy and pleasing finish. The wine has flavors of violets, dark berries, plum, and hints of chocolate. A very impressive wine showing the high potential of Greek wines.

Ktima Pavlidis:

For more information on this winery, check out my prior post.

The 2007 Syrah was a Greek wine made from an international grape which I enjoyed. The wine was aged for fourteen months in French oak and has an alcohol content of 15%. The wine had lots of spice and dark plum and blackberry flavors. It was a good wine, though I am not sure you would know this came from Greece.

Gentilini Winery:

In 1978, Spiro-Nicholas Cosmetatos planted his first vineyards at his family estate in Cephalonia. The vineyards were planted with indigenous and international grapes, and the first vintage was not released until 1984. The winery practices organic viticulture. "Gentilini" is the surname of Spiro's paternal grandmother.

The 2008 Aspro is an intriguing blend of 40% Tsaoussi, 40% Muscat of Cephalonia, and 20% Sauvignon Blanc. It is creamy and full-bodied, with flavors of citrus and honey and has a fairly long finish. There are also some subtle herbal notes beneath the fruit which add to the flavor of the wine. One of my favorite white wines of the tasting.

The 2007 Red is a blend of 60% Agiorgitiko and a 40% mix Syrah and Mavrodaphne. The wine spends six months in new French oak. A delicious wine with nice red fruit flavors, spicy notes and moderate tannins. It has some character and would probably be a good BBQ wine for the summer.

Domaine Vassiliou/Nemeion Estate:

These two estates together encompass 150 acres, with vineyards in Messogia Attica and Asprokampos Nemea. The Domaine Vassiliou vineyards were first planted in 1905. The Nemeion vineyards are all organically farmed. The estates grow indigenous Greek grapes.

The NV Retsina greatly surprised me, providing me a new appreciation for this wine. Retsina is a resinated wine, with an ancient history, that is traditionally made from the Savatiano grape, sometimes with Assyrtiko, Roditis and other grapes blended in. Small pieces of Aleppo Pine resin are added during fermentation. That may not sound appetizing and my own previous experiences with retsina were not pleasant, as the wines smelled and tasted almost like turpentine or Pine Sol. This wine though was very much unlike that. Instead, there was a very mild pine flavor, as well as other interesting herbal components. A very smooth and pleasant wine, I could easily drink and enjoy several glasses. It reminded me, in part, of some herbal liquers, and I could easily picture this wine as a component in a delicious cocktail.

The 2004 Hgemon Grand Reserve is made from 100% Agiorgitiko. It is a very intense wine, with rich red fruit flavors, vanilla, white pepper and chocolate. It has smooth tannins, a very long finish, and plenty of complexity. There is a hint of exoticism in the taste, a flavor I cannot identify but which is compelling and unusual. A top-notch wine.

Gai'a Wines:

For more information on this winery, check out my prior post.

I tasted the latest vintages of the 2008 Notios White and 2008 Notios Red, both which were equally as good as the prior vintages I have enjoyed. As these wines sell for under $15, they are excellent value wines.

The NV Ritinitis Nobilis Retsina was the second retsina at the tasting, and I enjoyed it as well. It had more of a pine aroma and taste than the other retsina, but still well within a pleasing limit. It was very herbal, with a delicious blend of tastes. It was suggested this wine would pair well with curry and spicy dishes, and it would make for an interesting test. So I found two retsinas I liked, though they were significantly different from each other.

The 2006 Gai'a Estate is made from 100% Agiorgitiko, and is a single vineyard wine that spent about 16 months in new French oak. Another smooth, complex and delicious wine, and I have realized that this grape is capable of some excellent, high-end wines. I thoroughly enjoyed most of the wines from this tasting made from Agiorgitiko. If you are not familiar with this grape, I highly recommend you hunt it down.

Domaine Spiropoulos:

For more information on this winery, check out my prior post.

I tasted the NV Ode Pantos Brut again, and it impressed me as much as it did before. This was the only sparkling wine of the tasting, but it made for an excellent showing. It gets a high recommendation.

The 2009 Meliasto Rose also impressed me, a blend of 60% Moschofilero and 40% Agiorgitiko. It had an alluring fruit smell and tasted very Old World. It was dry, with more subtle flavors of strawberry and watermelon, and a bit of minerality. This is the style of Rose I most enjoy and thought this was a very good example. As the weather gets warmer, there is more and more reason to drink Rose.

Final Advice:

Taste more Greek wines! You'll find delicious and enjoyable Greeks wine in all categories: white, red, sparkling, dessert, value and high-end. Though they might be more difficult to locate at your local wine store, seek them out and recommend to you local wine store owner to carry some Greek wines. Especially try wines made from indigenous Greek grapes and experience their unique flavor profiles.

What have your experiences been with Greek wines?


Sunday Cook said...

Did the importer give you any idea as to where their wines can be found in the greater Boston area? My frustration is that I *know* there are great Greek wines out there, but finding them is frequently a challenge.

Richard Auffrey said...

As it was a trade tasting, part of the idea was to try to entice local wine stores and restaurants to start carrying their wines. Thus, I am not sure which stores will carry their wines. But I might be able to find out.

Jim Rhodes said...

I will definitely read more about Greek wine. I don't know anything about it yet. I think I should read all your posts on this topic.