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Posts Tagged ‘Greece’

A Pair of Greek Wines

Both of these wines offer a Greek twist to what I normally drink.  Perhaps I am naive but I do not recall seeing a bottle of Greek sparkling wine before.  The NV Ktima Tselepos, Amalia Brut is immediately enjoyable out of the bottle with its white tropical fruit that borders on the ripe side.  The 2009 Alpha Estate, Axia is also in the right state for current drinking. This even blend of Syrah and Xinomavro clearly tasted different.  The fruit is at the center with the structure present in the shadows.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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NV Ktima Tselepos, Amalia Brut, Methode Traditionnelle, Arcadia – $20
Imported by Dionysos Imports.  This wine is 100% Moschofilero which was fermented in stainless steel vats then bottled for second fermentation and aged for 12 months.  RS 12 g/L. Alcohol 12%.  There was a very light color in the glass.  The light nose was fruity with white, tropical aromas.  In the mouth there was an initial touch of yeast before ripe, tropical flavors slowly build in the mouth.  There were fine, strong bubbles with a mousse that lasted until the finish.  The finish bore creamsicle flavors along with some acidity at the back of the throat.  ** Now-2014.

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2009 Alpha Estate, Axia, Syrah-Xinomavro, Florina – $20
Imported by Diamond Importers.  This wine is a blend of 50% Syrah and 50% Xinomavro which were fermented in stainless steel, rested on the lees for seven months then aged for nine months in French and American oak.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose bore aromas of macerated berries.  The mouth follows the nose with a firm and dry start.  There were then flavors of prune, fig, and firm black fruit along with some cedar.  The flavors lightly expanded revealing integrated acidity and barely apparent tannins.  The flavors took on some tang and a little texture.  There was some personality to the different flavors.  I would guess this is a near-term drinker.  ** Now-2015.

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An Odd Pair of Wines

We recently tasted another Georgian wine from Chelti Estate Vineyards the 2008 Gunashauri.  Last summer I wrote about the 2007 Chelti in The Stones and Blue Fruit of the 2007 Chelti, Saperavi.  I give a nod towards the 2007 Chelti however you might try either one of these wines if you are new to the wines of Georgia or the grape Saperavi.  Surprisingly good is the 2009 Ktima Pavlidis Winery, Thema.  It is an engaging blend of Syrah and Agiorgitiko with deep flavors that exhibit a hint of its barrel aging.  The blend works really well and makes you want to drink more.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2008 Chelti Estate Vineyards, Gunashauri, Kakheti – $12
Imported by Potomac Selections.  This wine is 100% Saperavi which was fermented in stainless steel  Alcohol 13%.  The light nose was pungent with heavy aromas of fresh berries and slight but good funk.  In the mouth there was blacker red fruit which stepped up in the mouth.  It had a firm, density, salivating acidity, and some ripe tannins.  There was definitely a different flavor profile with slightly ripe black fruit.  There were very approachable tannins with less structure than I would expect from the grape.  The aftertaste was a bit earthy.  ** Now-2016.

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2009 Ktima Pavlidis Winery, Thema, Drama – $19
Imported by Athenee Importers & Distributors.  This wine is a blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Agiorgitiko which underwent malolactic fermentation then as aged for 10-14 months in oak.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose revealed deep aromas of berries and earth.  In the mouth there was deep but soft and expansive fruit with blue and black fruit flavors exhibiting some grip inside.  There was acidity followed drier, slightly tart, black fruit with hints of red fruit and maybe a wood note. There was an expansive, dark perfume in the finish before developing a bit of drying, tannic structure.  With extended air there was a little, sweet vanilla hint.  *** Now – 2018.

Grillo, Moschofilero, Mature Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Tibouren

Here is a group of five eclectic white and rose wines.  The 2010 Antonopoulos, Moschofilero has benefitted from a little bit of age.  It is rather attractive as a crisp wine and certainly strongly priced.  The 2011 Bulgariana, Sauvignon Blanc follows up the 2009 Bulgariana, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah I recently tried.  It is a bit weightier than the Antonopoulos and while it is more international in taste, it is tasty and even less expensive.  Many thanks to Ruben for providing the sample.  At the 2013 Bacchus Portfolio Tasting, De Maison Selections table I commented how MacArthur Beverages still had the 2009 Clos Cibonne, Tibouren Rose on the shelves.  It is drinking great, came the reply.  It sure did, have it with a meal or by itself.  The 2006 Sans Permis, La Chanson is another close-out vintage following the 2005 Sans Permis, La Chanson.  It has lost the Santa Barbara County appellation for generic California and perhaps in doing so, some focus.   There was a strange disconnect between the nose and mouth so I suspect this is completely mature.  I had issues with the nose so I downgraded the wine, perhaps the second bottle will show better.  Lastly, the 2011 Tami, Grillo has strong personality.  It may be a bit polarizing but if you are a fan of Arianna Occhipinti or Sicily in general then give it a try!  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2010 Antonopoulos, Moschofilero, PGI Arkadia – $10
Imported by Verity Wine Partners.  This wine is 100% Moschofilero sourced from vineyards at 650m.  Alcohol 12%.  The color was a very light straw.  The light nose was expressive and crisp with white, floral fruit.  In the mouth the white fruit had some weight.  While the acidity is there it come out more as salivation starts in the aftertaste.  This lively wine had chalky notes and leave a dry texture on the gums and palate.  The aftertaste had good length.  ** Now-2014.

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2011 Bulgariana, Sauvignon Blanc, Thracian Valley – $9
Imported by G&B Imports.  This wine is 100% Sauvignon Blanc.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a light straw yellow.  The light nose was heavy with clean Sauvignon Blanc aromas.  The wine was vibrant on the tongue tip with noticeable acidity at first then the flavors fill and puff out.  There is a  nutty weight with acidity on the back of the throat.  The flavors were a touch tart with a drying tannic touch and good aftertaste.  ** Now.

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2009 Clos Cibonne, Tibouren, Cotes du Provence – $20
Imported by De Maison Selections. This wine is a blend of 90% Tibouren and 10% Grenache sourced from 30+ year old vines.  It was fermented in stainless steel then aged 12 months on the lees under fleurette in 100-year-old foudres.  Alcohol 13%.  The color was a light, dried orange rose.  The nose was subtle with dried floral aromas and Pilsner.  In the mouth there was savory, dry red fruit, dried roses, and a bit of pleasing glycerine like weight.  It had a yeast note and some ripeness in the finish.  This balanced wine was fresh in the middle with a little tangy, and some dried, ripe spices.  *** Now-2015.

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2006 San Permis, La Chanson, Chardonnay – $12
This wine is 100% Chardonnay.  Alcohol 14.5%  The color was a light yellow with hints of gold.  The light nose bore heavy aromas with barrel toast, maturity, and something odd.  There was weighty, rich yellow fruit in the mouth with a creamy feel.  It was balanced with acidity.  It was surprisingly youthful in the mouth, perhaps disconnected with the nose, and does not show much complexity.  There were some ripe spices in the finish.  * Now.

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2011 Tami, Grillo, Sicily – $16
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections.  This wine is 100% Grillo sourced from 10-year-old vines which was fermented with indigenous yeasts.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The color is a light golden-yellow.  The light+ nose is of waxy floral aromas reminiscent of extended skin contact.  In the mouth there was acidity on the tongue tip followed by white fruit.  There was very fine texture to this wine which has some weight in the mouth.  The flavors turn whiter and stonier was the acidity builds in the back of the mouth.  It leaves a hint of the lees.  ** Now-2014.

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Continuing Today’s Fun With the 2010 Thymiopoulos, Young Vines

I have lately come across many tasty wines and feel like I barely have enough time to make you aware of them. The 2010 Thymiopoulos, Young Vines is one such example. It recently appeared on the shelves at MacArthur Beverages so I was prompt at purchasing a bottle. Earlier in the Spring I first discovered the 2009 vintage (you may read my post about the wine here and view some pictures here). My enjoyment of the 2009 vintage from Thymiopoulos Vineyards led me on a quest to explore Greek wines. The 2010 vintage of the Young Vines is also lovely, if not better than 2009. According to Andrea Englisis the 2010 vintage was great all over Greece. Beyond the extra year of vineyard maturity, these really are young vines, Apostolos Thymiopoulos decided to produce this wine without any oak influence. This has resulted in a fresh, berry flavored wine that all should try. It might benefit from a year in the cellar but it is fun to drink right now. Many thanks to Andrea for answering my questions. This wine was purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

2010 Thymiopoulos Vineyards, Young Vines, Xinomavro, Naoussa – $15
Imported by Athenee Importers. This wine is 100% Xinomavro. Alcohol 13.5%. The light nose reveals lovely, concentrated fruit aromas. In the mouth the fresh berries mixed with fresh herbs and drying, citrus tannins. With a short amount of air the fruit popsicle flavors become lovely and capture ones attention so much so that you do not mind the young tannins. There is an interesting dark, mineral aftertaste. *** Now-2016.

A Trio of Inexpensive Greek Wines

When I vacation at the beach I tend to expand the range of what I drink to include daiquiri and beer.  However I still want to drink wine in the evening so I decided to bring along some inexpensive selections.  John recently added several new Greek wines including these three from Verity Wine Partners.  The Dio Fili has plenty of citric acidity to match up with food but may still be drunk alone if you do not mind some bracing acidity in the throat.  It also held up well in the bottle over many days.  The Antonopoulos is pleasing in its maturity with enjoyable wood box notes.  I would drink it now.  The Mitravelas Estate is quite fun and has enough personality to complement an evening meal outdoors.  These bottles were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

2011 Dio Fili, Siatista Winery, Rose, Siatista – $10
Imported by Verity Wine Partners.  This wine is a blend of 85% Xinomavro and 15% Moschomavro sourced from 80 year old vines at 800 meters.  The color is a playful light to medium cherry with a hint of rose.  In the mouth there is first dark red fruit then white grapefruit flavors mixed with lots of citric acidity.  The dry floral flavors have a little weight before the noticeable acidity returns in the back of the throat during the aftertaste.  Over time the ample acidity persists with lively flavors on the tongue and a touch of tannic texture on the tongue.  There is enough ripeness to the fruit.  ** Now-2014.

2006 Antonopoulos Vineyards, Private Collection Red – $13
Imported by Verity Wine Partners.  This wine is a blend of 60% Mavrodaphne and 40% Merlot sourced from vineyards located at 150-300 meters on soils of clay and sand.  It was aged for 6-12 months in oak barrels. Alcohol 13.5%.  The color is a light to medium garnet rose.  The light nose reveals pleasing aromas of which I cannot describe.  In the mouth there are tight berry flavors, a touch of wood box, followed by soft and mature red berries.  It is a little tart with the acidity coming out in the finish along with some tannins.  There is a softer aftertaste where the flavors turn blacker along with some greenhouse notes.  ** Now.

2010 Mitravelas Estate, Red On Black, Agiorgitiko, Nemea – $10
Imported by Verity Wine Partners.  This wine is made from Agiorgitiko sourced from 20+ year old vines.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color is an almost medium ruby with grapey purple core.  The subtle nose reveals dark, ripe aromas.  In the mouth there are gently firm flavors of red and blue berries which are surprisingly ripe.  A wood note takes over along with some softness before a little structure and a touch of tannins come out in the finish.  There is a little bit of warmth and soft acidity.  ** Now-2015.

Two Wines from Estate Argyros in Santorini

April 24, 2012 1 comment

Vineyard, Image from Estate Argyros

Estate Argyros was established in 1903 by Georgios Argyros with an initial holding of five acres.    It specialized in bulk wine production until third-generation Yiannis Argyros started running the estate in 1974.  In 1987 he produced the first estate bottled wines.  Two years later Yiannis Argyros and Yiannis Paraskevopoulos (of Gai’a Wines) met and became friends.  Not only did the initial fruit for the Gai’a Wines come from Estate Argyros but they were also vinified there.  Yiannis Paraskevopoulos remained a consulting oenologist after constructing the Gai’a Wines winery.

Yiannis and Matthew Argyros in the cellar, Image from Estate Argyros

Today the estate is run by fourth generation Matthew Argyros.  There are now 65 acres of vines located in the Episcopi Gonia region at 35-150 meters.  The Atlantis wine series are produced to balance quality and price.   The estate focuses on the indigenous varietals of Greece with these two selections made from Assyrtiko, Mavrotragano, and Mandilaria.  All vines are basket trained with the Mavrotragano vines 20-30 years of age and the Mandilaria 60-80 years of age.  There are some very old sites of vines along with two sites which were just planted last year with Mandilaria and Mavrotragano.  Mavrotragano is being planted more throughout Santorini and is the mostly widely planted new varietal at Estate Argyros.

Harvest at Estate Argyros, Image from Estate Argyros

These wines represent my introduction to the red varietals Mavrotragano, which only grows on Santorini, and Mandilaria which grows on the southern islands.  According to Andrea Englisis of Athenee Importers, Mandilaria is known for its red fruit notes with soft tannins and acidity where as Mavrotragano is known for its deep color, high tannins, and acidity.  The Atlantis Red is blended with 10% Mavrotragano for structure.  My favorite of these two wines is the Atlantis Rose.  There are some sweet fruity notes to the nose but this is counter-balanced by tart aromas and flavors carried through on an energetic yet controlled flow of acidity.  The Atlantis Red steps things up with a very fruity profile.  If you like wine and fruit-cocktail than grab a bottle of the red.  I would drink this now for its fruitiness but it has tannins and acidity to age.  Many thanks to Yiota Ioakimoglou of Estate Argyros and Andrea Englisis of Athenee Importers for answering my questions and providing images..  Both of these wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2010 Estate Argyros, Atlantis Rose, Santorini – $12
Imported by Athenee Importers.  This wine is a blend of 80% Assyrtiko and 20% Mandilaria.  The fruit was fermented and raised in stainless steel.  A vibrant color in the glass.  The powdery nose is reminiscent of Sweet Tarts.  In the mouth there is a soft approach at first then lively flavors show up on the tongue as some grip is developed.  Saline notes and dried herbs mix with the dry cranberry flavors.  The flavors turn tart in the finish as minerals and dark red flavors come out which are kept refreshing by cranberry-like acidity.  The aftertaste continues with tart red flavors.  Rather satisfying right now.  ** Now-2014.

2008 Estate Argyros, Atlantis Red, Santorini – $15
Imported by Athenee Importers.  This wine is a blend of 90% Mantilaria and 10% Mavrotragano.  The fruit was fermented in stainless steel then aged for six months in 600 liter French oak barrels.  The nose began with stinky cheese aromas but those blew off after an hour.  In the mouth there was slightly puckering, juicy, ripe black cherry fruit.  The entry is soft but then there was integrated structure provided by white citrus flesh-like tannins which dried the palete as a fruit cocktail note came out.  A licorice-like vein ran through the aftertaste mixing with juicy acidity, and drying, slightly spicy tannins.   ** Now-2017.

The Ancient Assyrtiko Vines of Gai’a Wines

April 17, 2012 2 comments

When I was researching for my post on the 2010 Gai’a Wines, Notios Red I came across several fascinating images in the winery gallery.  They were images of low-lying woven vines on Santorini.  Santorini is an island located southeast of mainland Greece and north of Crete.  The island itself is actually the rim of a volcano with the caldera mostly underwater.  To produce these wines Gai’a Wines has a winery on the island.  It is located on the beach at an old industrial cherry tomato processing factory.  The location may seem odd but Santorini is famous for its cherry tomatoes.

Basket Trained Assyrtiko, Image from Gaia Wines

The vines of Santorini are traditionally grown in the Koulara method or basket trained.  Each year the vines continue to be woven in the form of a basket.  The grapes may grown on the inside of the basket with the leaves providing shade so they do not ripen too quickly.  Additionally, the strong summer winds from Africa would knock down any trellised vines.  Over the years the vines decline in yield due to a combination of age and the several meters of vines the nutrients must pass through before reaching the fruit.  When the vines reach 75-100 years of age the basket is traditionally cut off at the base.  New vines eventually grow from the rootstock and within 2-3 years a new basket has been formed.  This process is known to have been repeated several times making the roots several hundred years old.  It is absolutely fascinating that these wines are produced form 70-80 year old vines with 300+ year old roots!

Harvesting in Santorini, Image from Gaia Wines

Unlike other parts of Greece the vineyards of Santorini have never been infected by Phylloxera.  Back in 1600 B.C. there was a devastating volcanic explosion which created rocky volcanic soils throughout the island.  Phylloxera does not grow in volcanic soils so the vines never died off nor was there a need to replant them on different rootstock.  The soils are a mixture of volcanic ash, pumice stone, and solidified lava and sand with absolutely no clay.  Yiannis comments that the soils of Santorini are sulfur rich causing the indigenous yeasts and bacteria to have some level of tolerance.  This allow indigenous populations to survive any sulfur added during the winemaking process.  There is no irrigation on the island nor is there much rain.  In fact the climate is classified as a hot desert.  Any rain that does fall is absorbed deep into the porous soils where it is gathered by the ancient roots.  There is some mist and sea spray which provides additional moisture.

A quick search on the Assyrtiko wines of Santorini will reveal many notes about the dry style of wine with powerful acidity.  This is true!  The Thalassitis is unlike any wine I have drunk before.  This is a bracing and puckering wine which is best with food.  They are on the dry side with a strong stone component.  The Wild Ferment developed interesting flavors after being open for one day with riper fruit that was in balance with the acidity.  It also was a perfect match for cheesy toast.   If I picked a single wine I would recommend you try the Wild Ferment.  The combination of indigenous yeasts and barrel fermentation have provided for a unique wine.  Though most of the barriques are made from French and American oak, a portion are made from Acacia.  Yiannis feels this lends a floral quality to Assyrtiko.  I would personally cellar this wine for a year or two for development but if you are curious to try it now then decant it for several hours.  I suspect the high levels of acidity will allow these wines to age for many years.  Both of these wines are available in limited quantities at MacArthur Beverages.  Many thanks to Andrea Englisis of Athenee Importers and Yiannis Paraskevopoulos of Gai’a Wines for answering my many questions.  In addition I appreciate John in stocking these wines from Santorini so that I could taste them.

2011 Gai’a Wines, Thalassitis, Santorini – $23
Imported by Athenee Importers.  This wine is 100% Assyrtiko sourced from 70-80 year old vines located in Episkopi, Akrotiri, and Pyrgos.  The pourous soils are mostly of volcanic pumice.  The nose was tart, dry, and very light.  In the mouth the laser-beam flavors were dry, stoney, with powerful almost petillant acidity.  The flavors were lively on the tongue with tart lemon flavors making for a refreshing aftertaste.  On subsequent nights the wine put on weight in the mouth with powerful acidity hitting the tip of the tongue.  The flavors remained low-lying with a yellow-grapefruit note, a bit of a tang, and a puckering aftertaste.  Interesting texture.  ** Now-2019.

2011 Gai’a Wines, Assyrtiko, Wild Ferment, Santorini – $23
Imported by Athenee Importers.  This wine is 100% Assyrtiko sourced from 70-80 year old vines from 12 different plots located in the upland vineyard of Pyrgos.  This vineyard is located higher up at 200-300 meters and produces more aromatic wines.  The fruit is fermented in a mixture of 50% stainless steel tanks at low temperature and 50% barriques at high temperature, of which 80% are new and 20% used.  Only indigenous yeasts are used.  After fermentation the best barrels and tanks are used for Wild Ferment.  There was a light to medium strength nose which was Pilsner-like with sponti aromas.  In the mouth the wine started with restrained fruit that was a touch ripe, assertive acidity, steely/stoney fruit then tart lemon flavors as good texture developed and the wine expanded in the mouth.  There was drying texture left inside the lips.  On subsequent nights the fruit became yellower and ripe with a dry finish and green apple flavors in the aftertaste.  It showed a good balance between fruit and acidity.  **(*) 2014-2019.