Friday, August 5, 2016

Two Compelling Greek Wines At Committee

Why aren't you drinking more Greek wines?

A week ago, with family and friends, I had a fantastic birthday celebration at Committee. We began with cocktails out on the patio, including the refreshing "We Can't Elope," and then when we went inside for dinner, opting for wine.

Their wine list is essentially Mediterranean, and includes wines from France, Spain, Italy, Lebanon and Greece. Their more than 25 Greek wine selections include Sparkling, White, Rosé, Red, Retsina and Dessert wines. You might feel a little intimidated by the Greek wines as most of them are produced from strange grapes you might not know. However, you should take a chance on Greek wines and feel free to ask your server for advice on which Greek wine to order. I'm sure once you taste then, you'll enjoy their diverse and delicious aromas and flavors.

Let me also provide two of my own recommendations, a white and a red, from their Greek wine list.  We thoroughly enjoyed these wines at dinner and I'm positive many other wine lovers will enjoy them just as much.

Both of the wines were from the same winery, Ktima Brintziki, a family owned winery which is located in the village of Lantzoi, only a few miles from the ancient site of Olympia, where the ancient Olympic Games were once conducted. Vineyards have been growing on the property since 1932 but the Brintziki winery wasn't founded until 1996. Dionysios Brintziki, and his wife Dionysia, were both professional musicians but eventually decided to get into the family winemaking business. Having names related to Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, may have even helped in that decision. They own about 13 hectares of vineyards and in 2010, they were certified as the first green winery in Greece and their wines are certified organic by BIOHellas.

The 2014 Ktima Brintziki Tinaktorogos (about $50 at Committee) is made from 100% Tinaktorogos, a rare, indigenous grape that is so ancient that it might have been mentioned by Homer. It is so rare that it isn't even mentioned in Jancis Robinson's encyclopedic Wine Grapes. This wine might even be the only 100% Tinaktorogos in the world.  It's name is derived from the fact that it casts many flowers during the flowering period. There is also little information about this specific wine online, unless maybe you can read Greek.

With an ABV of 13%, this wine undergoes battonage 3 times a week for a month and seems not to see any oak. On the nose, there are alluring notes of stone fruits and light floral elements. On the palate, it was crisp and dry, with delicious flavors of apple and pear, with floral hints and a touch of tea. There was some round, creaminess to the wine, balanced with its nice acidity. The finish was long and pleasing and it certainly had a slightly different taste than many other white wines. It paired well with a diversity of food, from the Avocado Hummus to the Tomato Keftedes (tomato fritters). Skip the Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc and choose this Tinaktorogos instead.

The 2011 Ktima Brintziki Avgoustiatis (about $50 at Committee) is made from 100% Avgoustiatis which is also a rare, indigenous grape. This grape may have originated on the Ionian islands or the Cyclades, and its name derives from the Greek word for August, as that is the month when its berries ripen. Wines made from this grape tend to have a deep red color, soft tannins and high acidity.

With an ABV of 12.8%, this wine was aged in new French barrique for about twelve months. This wine did possess a rich red color and an intriguing nose of red fruits, mild spices and savory notes, possibly a touch of olive. On the palate, the wine was dry with mild tannins, and tasty flavors of cherry, plum, savory herbs and mild spice notes. It was elegant, with nice acidity and a lingering, satisfying finish. It was certainly more Old World in style, and was an excellent accompaniment to grilled meats, from Lamb Kofte to Loukaniko, from Chicken Souvlaki to Bifteki. This is a very food friendly wine, with a complex and interesting flavor profile, and highly recommended.

So when you dine next at Committee, why not expand your plate and try a Greek wine.

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