In recent years, the Greek wine industry has undergone significant improvement which includes serious investments in modern technology and education. The new generation of Greek winemakers are being trained in the best wine schools around the world and their efforts are paying off as Greek wines garner prestigious awards.
Did you know that there are more than 300 indigenous grape varieties grown in Greece, some of which have been cultivated since ancient times? Distinct flavors come from these native grape varieties affording new marketing opportunities for the Greek wine industry. When you combine the extensive variety of grapes together with a moderate climate, ample sunshine, low average rainfall and soils of moderate fertility you have an excellent environment for the production of high quality wines.
I think you’d agree that the real challenge for the Greek wine industry is to educate people in the new style of Greek wine and then get them to taste and purchase the wines. The investment in promiting Greek wine is probably the last piece of the puzzle before the Greek wine industry can assume its place amongst the preeminent producers of quality wines worldwide.
The Temecula area Occasional Wine Council is doing their part to assist in the promotion of Greek wines. Our group (Tom Plant, Carol Malin, Karsten Boone, Carmen Micheli, Hilarie Larson, Linda Kissam) met to review five wines provided by the New Wines of Greece representatives. What we found were some consistently good wines that we think you’ll enjoy – especially with the suggested food pairings.
Thema 2012, $15 pair with Smoked Puget Sound Sockeye Salmon : 50% Sav Blanc & 50% Assyrtiko: This is a dry, still, white. Drink it now, 13% alc. Enjoy the lingering lemon cream fragrance and beautiful acidity. Makes a good brunch wine. Expect a dominant Sauvignon nose. On the palate you’ll enjoy lemon cream ,lime zest, granny smith and green grass notes .Goes well with smoked salmon and stuffed chicken. Ranked third in the group’s reviews.
2011 Domaine Sigalas , $18 –Pair with steamed artichoke hearts in olive oil and seasoning: Soft citrusy nose suggesting lemony minerality on the palate. The Athiri grape adds roundness and softness to the Assyrtiko. This was the group’s number two choice of the tasting. It is a very food-friendly wine.
Ovilos Estate Biblia Chora 2010, $20- Pair with Grilled Chicken Breast with a Herbed Zucchini stuffing. A good example of an all organic regional white wine, combining Assyrtiko 50% and Semillon 50% and perfect for people who love an oaky profile wine. You can see the oak in the glass, however it is lighter on the palate then the nose. Number one pick of the night!
Xinomavro 2008 Urano -Sykomaitha (Pronounced see-koh-mah-eee-thah). Pair with Karsten’s Spiced Fig Cakes. The name Xinomavro means in Greek “acid black”, (“xino” means “acid” and “mavro” means “black”). This is another oaky wine that could use some more aging. Serve with something that has some fat in it like the fig cakes, chocolate brownies or M&M’s as the fat cuts the tannin. Use a Soiree to get a softer approach.
07 Grande Reserve Boutari Grande Reserve Naoussa, $25. Pair with Sweet Jill’s Choc Chip Brownies: One of Boutari’s first and best-known wines. It is the first red wine from Greece to introduce the designation of limited and controlled production among Greek wines. Aged over four years in oak barrels and bottles, yet somehow producing a lighter red style. Expect nuances of baking spices and dried herbs. Use a Soiree to get the best tasting results.
Until we meet again to review the wines of the world…Stin iyia mas (To our health)!