Bring me Achaia love

Godello on the beach at Pounta, Patras, Greece

Godello on the beach at Pounta, Patras, Greece

Travel. From either the early French travailler or Middle English travailen “to work hard,” “to make a journey” and “to torment.” The word conjures up intellection of exaggeration and impression, of simulacrum and eidolon. To think about picking up and going somewhere is nothing if not exciting. Embracing the notion of a journey makes mindful the portent for drifts far away and also those of inward retreat.

Travel in search of and on behalf of wine encompasses the territories defined in the etymology of the word. Yes, it is fun, certainly it can be glamorous and without equivocation, requires work ethic, stamina and focus. Then there is the travel, for work, with wine, to Greece. No journey with grapes in mind might be apprised in kind, of reflection, revelation and utter exhalation than what dwells in a rendezvous in specie with the northern Peloponnese. In Achaia, the confluence of grapes, gastronomy and tourism simply blows the mind. It also brings about utter balance and an ingress back down to earth.

Related – Till I reach Achaia ground

Achaia Love

The variegated landscape of Achaia, from Selinous to Kalavryta, from Patras to Ano Diakofto, are to a winemaker a place of great passion, history and in many respects, a supernatural calling from the processes of human imagination. It is here where the great Greek paradox is lived, like mysticism and mathematics conjoined, in the attitude of Greek philosophical winemaking. The work is achieved through the dichotomy of platonic thought and socratic character. Making wine from endemic or indigenous grapes is a calling to a higher love, in spite of harsh conditions, geographical difficulties and the relative channels of global obscurity.

Related – Gateway to Achaia, from Roditis to Mavrodaphne

The Achaian winemaker is a geometer and a mystic. They engage in rational winemaking coupled with the sound of an inner voice. Things look so bad everywherein this whole world, what is fair?

Winemakers do not worry or care about what stands in their way. Here they make wine because that is what they know from, but now it is more than that. Today the younger, aspiring viti-viniculturalists have European oenology degrees and come armed with a profane, ecumenical arsenal to make clean and progressive wines. The whole consolidation is awesome and yet Greek wine will never be mainstream. The people just like to drink their own wine. They export less than five per cent of their output and in Achaia, the number is even lower. It is high time for the world to sing bring me Achaia love.

Train from Ano Diokopto to Kalvryta

Train from Ano Diokopto to Kalvryta

Agritourism

While the allure of vine and wine are the most important agricultural draws in Achaia, tourism is inextricably tied to points of interest dotted throughout the region. A ride up through the Vouraikos Canyon on the Diokfto to Kalavryta rack railway is essential towards understanding geology, topography and climate variation.

Cave of the Lakes (Spilaio Limnon)

Cave of the Lakes (Spilaio Limnon)

The Monastery of Megalo Spileo (Big Cave) oversees the great sloping vineyard of the Cavino stable and the Cave of the Lakes (Spilaio Limnon) are one of the great wonders of the (under) world. The Hades connection is not lost on anyone who walks through the subterranean, mythos labyrinth of rock and water.

The port city of Patras houses the architecturally and historically significant early civilization collection at the Archaeological Museum of Patras. An Achaian visit is made complete on a spectacular Patras beach such as Pounta and a trip across (and return by ferry) the not to be believed until having seen it Rio-Antirio Bridge.

Rio-Antirrio Bridge, Patras

Rio-Antirrio Bridge, Patras

Now the food. The unavoidable truth in Achaian pastime is one of variegated and highly diverse gastronomy. The cuisine from down on the Rio-Patras shore and up into the hills of Eigalia and Kalavryta makes perfect and surfeited use of local products.

Athens Fish Market

Athens Fish Market

Fish and lamb are at every meal though the briarean advantage of vegetarian options offers an immense and restorative upside. Meals are long, extensive and dangerously satiating.

Kalavryta Olives

Olives in Kalavryta

Where to stay

Athens

Electra Plaza Hotel, 18 N. Nikodimou Str., 10557 Athens, Greece, 30 210 337 0000

View of Athens from The Radisson Blu Hotel

View of Athens from The Radisson Blu Park Hotel

Radisson Blu Park Hotel, Alexandras Avenue 10, 10682, Athens, Greece. 30 210 889 4500, info@rbathenspark.com

Rio-Patras

Porto Rio Hotel and Casino, Syrogianni, Rio, Achaia 265 00, Greece, 30 261 099 2102.

Situated in a verdant oasis near the city of Patra, surrounded by the crystal clear waters of the Patraiko Gulf, the famous Rio-Antirrio Bridge and Mt Panachaiko.

Egialia

Tetramythos Pool

Tetramythos Pool

Studios Tetramythos, Ano Diakofto, Άνω Διακοφτό, Diakofto 251 00, Greece, 30 2691 097367, info@tetramythoswines.com.

Owned and operated by brothers Aristos and Stathis Spanos.

Where to eat

Athens

Aleria Restaurant

Aleria Restaurant, Athens

Aleria Restaurant, Meg. Alexandrou 57, Athens 104 35, Greece, 30 21 0522 2633.

Sea Bass Tartare, avocado foam, greens at Aleria Restaurant, Athens

Sea Bass Tartare, avocado foam, greens at Aleria Restaurant, Athens

Chef Gikas Xenakis spins old-school Greek cuisine in modern, deconstructive ways. Structured flavours pop and inspire.

Kuzina Restaurant, Athens, Greece

Kuzina Restaurant, Athens, Greece

Kuzina Restaurant, Adrianou 9, Athens 105 55, Greece, 30 21 0324 0133.

Stylish gastronomy up on the terrace (Tarazza) with stunning views beneath the moonlight, Acropolis and Ifestos Temple.

Patras-Rio

“W” Rio, Posidonos 12, Rio, Greece, 30 261 099 5772.

Outdoor terrace restaurant directly on the shore of the Corinthian Gulf and the Rio-Antirrio Bridge.

Dimoriri, Akteon, Eleftherias 23, 26500, Map, Patra – Rio, 30 211 790 9399. Sommelier is Vasili-myrto Metaj.

Shrimp Saganaki, Dimoriri, Rio-Patras

Shrimp Saganaki, Dimoriri, Rio-Patras

One of the most well known traditional fish tavernas next to the bridge with a great selection of local wine and terrific meze.

Godello and the talented young chefs of Nautiko, Rio-Patras

Godello and the talented young chefs of Nautiko, Rio-Patras

Naut-oiko, Posidonos 12, Rio 265 04, Rio, Greece. 30 261 099 5992, nautoiko@gmail.com

Pork Gyros at Nautiko Restaurant, Rio-Patras

Pork Gyros at Nautiko Restaurant, Rio-Patras

Specialties: Salanova with grilled potato, cottage cheese and mustard vinegar, Greek village pies with feta, tomato and onion, Pork Gyro, Small Balls of Meat on Grill, Veal with Green Beans.

After the deluge, Istioploikos Omilos Patron, Patras

After the deluge, Istioploikos Omilos Patron, Patras

Istioploikos Omilos Patron, Iroon Polytechniou , 26500, Map, Patra – Downtown, 211 7909399

Fried Calamari, Pounta Beach, Patras

Fried Calamari, Pounta Beach, Patras

Pounta Beach Restaurant, Patras

Stuffed Calamari, Pounta Beach, Patras

Stuffed Calamari, Pounta Beach, Patras

Egialia

To Katafygio, 15ο km. Provincial Road Poudas – Kalavrita, 30 269 109 7292, info@to-katafygio.gr.

The Greek Salad, To Katafygi, Egialia, Achaia

The Greek Salad, To Katafygi, Egialia, Achaia

Home cooking at its Kalvritan best, of homemade spanakopita pie and braised meats to die for. Breathtaking view up in the mountains on the Kalavrita-Pounta Provincial road, on a pass with views of many peaks and the Corinthian Gulf.

Spanokopita, To Katafygi, Egialia, Achaia

Spanokopita, To Katafygi, Egialia

Where to drink

Athens

Paradiso Restaurant, Ioannou Apostolopoulou 58, Chalandri 152 31, Athens, Greece, 30 21 0672 2290

By the glass3 G. Souris Str & Philellinon, Athens, Greece, 30 210 3232 560

Toronto

Sometimes a little, persistent or incessant lobbying can effect change, even at the LCBO. At the Danforth outlet of the LCBO, the largest collection of Greek wines (said to exist outside of Greece) is now to be found. This is no doubt in part with thanks to Steve Kriaris of The Kolonaki Group. Mr. Kriaris and his successful online shopgreekwine.com is an innovative model to champion and sell Greek wine. Kudos to the liquor board for the leap of hellenic faith. Representation for Achaian wine is negligible, though you can purchase Tentura Liqueur by Loukatos. The Mega Spileo Red is currently being presented in the consignment program. (Represented by United Stars (Michael Polienko, mpolienko@unitedstars.ca)

Authorities on Achaia

A visit to Achaia begins with the New Wines of Greece, the national inter-professional organization of vine and wine of Greece, based in Athens, headed up by Sofia Perpera and George Athanas. Perpera is a Bordeaux trained Oenologist and former Director of the Greek Wine Federation.

Menos Angelakis is head of the trade missions unit for Menos Angelakis is head of the trade missions unit for Enterprise Greece, 109 Vasillisis Avenue, 115 21, Athens, Greece, 30 210 335 5735, i.agelakis@enterprisegreece.gov.gr

The Chamber of Achaia is the office charged with the responsibility for commerce and industry in Patras. Attorney Nora Nikolopoulou is the Head of International Relations, 58 Michalakopoulou str., 26221 Patras, 30 2610 277 779, panoreanik@e-a.gr

Konstantinos Lazarakis MW is Greece’s only Master of Wine. Konstantinos is one of Greece΄s most ardent ambassadors and has written the definitive book on Greek wine, The Wines of Greece. He and his wife Antonia run one of the most heralded wine schools under WSET auspices and offer courses for the Court of Master of Sommeliers program. 6-8 Krinis Str., 185 39, Piraeus, Greece, 30 698 659 0404, laza23@gmail.com

Grigoris Michailos Aiws is a Sommelier and partner in the Wine Commanders, a web-based platform with the goal to “communicate our passion for Greek wine without exaggeration but with creativity and integrity and to persuade you to try them.” 30 6985941963, gmichailosaiws@gmail.com

Dimostanos Zanakos works for Achaia tours. He may be young but is wise beyond his years. With Dimos as translator, mediator, cruise director and navigating wizard, a trip to Achaia runs with perfection.

This today by way of Sofia Perpera. “The Greek Embassy in Ottawa noted that Greek wine sales from January to July 2015 in Canada were up by 7,5% in value over the same period last year. The average wine imports of other countries were up by only 3,7%! #DrinkGreekWine

Good to go!

https://twitter.com/mgodello

http://www.winealign.com/profile/2058-mjg

Gateway to Achaia, from Roditis to Mavrodaphne

Gate to Achaia Clauss Winery, Achaia

Gate to Achaia Clauss Winery, Achaia

A week of immersion on the ground running in Achaia drafts a new set of varietal tasting parameters. What is new to me are anent varieties of old. Roditis, Sideritis, Mavrodaphne and Mavro Kalavryta may be the grapes of ancients but obscurity be sprinkled, their resurrection blows forth in full paroxysmal scatter. The appeal is symptomatic of the new search for greatness in far away places.

Related – Till I reach Achaia ground

In  the second week of July I tasted through Patras and Achaia in the Greek Peloponnese. Here are 55 reviews from 10 producers.

Tetramythos

8ο kil. Pounta-Kalavrita, Ano Diakopto, 25003, Greece, 2691097500 The most modern facility in all of Achaia, re-built after a fire destroyed the property more than 10 years ago. Owned and operated by the brothers Aristos and Stathis Spanos.

Panyiotis Panagianopoulos, Tetramythos Winery

Panyiotis Panagianopoulos, Tetramythos Winery

Oenologist since 1999 is Panayiotis Papagiannopoulos, a winemaker who may just have been separated from twin Frank Zappa at birth. Located at Ano Diakopto of Egialia, on the slopes of Mount Chelmos, the 14 hectares of vineyards (450-1,000m) are farmed organically (and have been since 1997). Bush vines make up 80 per cent and endemic varieties (85 per cent) cultivated (plus some expatriates) are Roditis, Malagousia, Sauvignon Blanc, Mavro Kalavryta, Agiorgitiko, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The total production is 13,000 cases with export to foreign markets (80 per cent) that exceeds peers by a wide margin.

Tetramythos Winery

Tetramythos Winery

Tetramythos Roditis 2014, PDO Patras, Greece (SAQ 12484575, $15.75, WineAlign)

Pulled from four vineyards at 650-850m of altitude and from vines 19-42 years old. No skin contact though it shows a light, slight tinge of colour. Nearly platinum in its yellow hue, perhaps attributed to organics says Papagiannopoulos, Eighty per cent was achieved through natural ferment (with zero malolactic) plus “one tank for security.” Roditis can go clean or develop anti-austerity, texture, viscosity in the direction of a dirty projector. The Tetramythos glides “forward through the clover and the bergamot.” I can see what she’s seeing. Tasting like a leesy ripe peach, this is the best “basic” Roditis tasted in Achaia. Serious match of Aleria Restaurant‘s Sea Bass Tartare. Drink 2015-2020.  Tasted July 2015

Tetramythos Roditis 2014, PGI Peloponnese, Greece (WineAlign)

Here speaks the truth in endemic Roditis, raised in unconscious, wild ferment, unfiltered, forsaken to fining and treated to minimal sulphur. From 47 year-old vines, this most natural Peloponnese is made for the French market (that includes Quebec) with elevated acidity, deeper mineral, higher tang, pomp, circumstance and attitude. Latin, really, striking actually. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Tetramythos Roditis 2014, PGI Achaia, Greece (WineAlign)

Roditis is here designated as the traditional Retsina, subjugated to wild yeasts in clay amphora and no sulphur during alcoholic fermentation. From 25 year-old vines out of a single vineyard and pine resin collected from trees on the edge of the vineyard. Post low and slow fermentation the wine rests on its lees for two months.  Such a wild and sauvage display of terroir; pine resin, beeswax, sealants and amphora. Like pure pine distillate without excessive herbaceousness and in subtlety of its own complacency. The palate follows the other roditis renditions and the pine again returns on the finish. 14,000 bottles made. Drink 2015-2019.  Tasted July 2015

Tetramythos Malagoussia 2014, PGI Achaia, Greece (WineAlign)

A single vineyard at an altitude of 750m guided by 30 hours of skin contact, for mouthfeel, to saddle the cool climate herbiage, needed for structure and for distance. Exudes poise, presence, precision, not oily but somehow creamy, glistening, this glow of malagousia. Expresses the longest hang time in the mouth, lingering like no roditis can or is willing to. Thanks to early picking to preserve acidity, the alcohol is low (12.4 per cent) and that acidity (7.2 g/L) above and beyond. Only here does malagousia keep this kind of flinty bite, in kind to a mid-September pick, keeping on the right side of soft and hot. I think this will live longer than you think.  Drink 2015-2020.  Tasted July 2015

Tetramythos Roditis 2008, PDO Patras, Greece (WineAlign)

A wine to fulfill the promise of my own personal vindication. I had asked Angelos Rouvalis about laying Roditis down for three to five years or more, to see where it may go and he said, “why?” Here is why. Has fan vaulted to the skies, urged by petrol and a symphony of mythology. Akin and within aromatic mineral reach of sémillon or riesling, with just a basal drip of ambrosial, gaseous honey. The green notes (of pea and nettle) are exaggerated but that is attributed to 2008 fruit that may have never been fully ripe. Drink 2015-2017.  Tasted July 2015

Tetramythos Roditis 2014 and Muscat Sec Blanc Nature 2014

Tetramythos Roditis 2014 and Muscat Sec Blanc Nature 2014

Tetramythos Muscat Sec 2014, PGI Peloponnese, Greece (WineAlign)

A slightly carbonic, reductive character – its natural protection, to keep the oxygen at bay, as if nouveau white Beaujolais. Combines bay laurel and beatific citrus, namely grapefruit after the banana blows off through the shutters of the cabana. Quite silky for muscat, of keys and zests citrus (major) and resin (minor). It may be sorry to leave you high and dry though there is no reason to feel a need to be weened off its charms. Far-out, groovy and compelling vin nature. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Tetramythos Muscat Sec Blanc Nature 2014, PGI Peloponnese, Greece (WineAlign)

Nothing short of lucent, this friable, direct and crunchy raw muscat. Effusive of individual vowels and consonants, typically Achaian, extrapolated to Greek in its lambent and inventive simplicity. More glade than wax, it coats with orange and the spirit of lime. So different and yet so familiar, inevitably dry and straight as an arrow. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Tetramythos Sauvignon Blanc Milia White 2014, PGI Achaia, Greece (WineAlign)

Not so many places are out there where sauvignon blanc grows at 1000m of altitude, so its got that going for it, which is nice. Add to that four months in new oak. What results is such a melon, citrus and high acidity tropical fruit mess. Wow is this piercing, almost over the top. Like sémillon this struts, in nod to the Hunter Valley. With time there is a varietal emergence. Eventually. Will age a spell. Drink 2015-2019. Tasted July 2015

Tetramythos Mavro Kalavryta 2014 (SAQ 11885457WineAlign)

A terrific example for a grape saved from extinction, Tetramythos owns 1.9 of a total four hectares of MK. Kudos for the effort especially considering the variety is thin skinned, slow to mature and difficult to cultivate. Saw nearly 20 days of skin contact because “the variety dictates the practice,” notes Konstantinos Lazarakis M.W. The fruit and bitters express a push-pull of terroir. One of two wineries making dry wines from the endemic variety, here the fresh red grape, the food friendly marker. Here confidently struts modern Achaian winemaking, from the ashes of naturalism and antiquity, the way Gamay or Loire Cabernet Franc are wont to do. Vibrant, with verve and a necessary natural funk. Herbal and with a rub of tomato skin, creamy, cool yet resinous, followed through from aroma to texture. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Kotrotsos Moschofilero Erasmios 2014 and Tetramythos Mavro Kalavryta 2014

Kotrotsos Moschofilero Erasmios 2014 and Tetramythos Mavro Kalavryta 2014

Tetramythos Agiorgitiko 2013, PGI Peleponnese (SAQ 12178957WineAlign)

Raised in old oak barrels, it carries the wooden ship scent on the sea. Possessive of a world up in the wind, roofless, like an August cathedral and yet a grounding sense to burrow into earth. In all that sense it drafts like Nebbiolo indenture. Ferric and tannic, with end spice. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Tetramythos Milia Red 2012, PGI Peloponnese, Greece (WineAlign)

A kaleidoscopic, cosmopolitan blend of merlot (66 per cent), cabernet sauvignon (20) and mavro (black) kalavrita (14) aged in 2nd, 3rd and 4th fill barrels. Here, again the use of Bordeaux varietals that cloud the vision of what the land wants to say. Sure it will speak in a language that resembles Terra Alta or some IGT but it has a nowhere man feel, a lack of somewheress and surely no word from the mouth of Papagiannopoulos. Very Mediterranean in feel, with a tapenade of black olive and caper. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Tetramythos Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, PGI Aegialia Slopes (WineAlign)

A new Bordeaux language is created, in natural wild ferment, unfiltered and housed for 30 months in 2nd and 3rd fill barrels. A highly savoury cabernet sauvignon, with a lean and mean green streak. Tannic and very tight. Coated by a veneer and seething in teeth chattering acidity. Not for the faint of cabernet sauvignon heart and in need of double bottle time, in minimum two to one ratio of what it saw in wood. Much appreciation for the vision and the effort. Drink 2018-2021.  Tasted July 2015

Tetramythos Mavrodaphne Vin Naturellement Doux, Peleponnese, Greece (WineAlign)

As with so many of the Tetramythos line-up, this regional blend is the same but different. First it’s non vintage and second it is out of zone so not considered for PDO Mavrodaphne of Patras status. At 16 per cent alcohol and 58 g/L the sweet elixir spent nearly three years spent spinning in the excruciatingly slow centrifuge of natural fermentation. Traditional method adherence with the addition of organic, sun-dried raisins, “to increase the sugar levels.” The house quotient is three kilos of dried Black Corinth Raisin for every 100 L of must, in purport to increase the alcohol by one per cent. Here sweeps clean, sweet Mavro,  its port sensibility an aged, natural, dried fruit, nut and caramel melange. Pure beauty. Drink 2015-2025.  Tasted July 2015

Domaine Mega Spileo (Cavino)

The domain is set within a dramatically oriented steppe of an amphitheatre, in a bowl beneath the shadow of a 940m rock that houses the great Greek Orthodox monastery of Mega Spileo (Grand Cave). Nowhere else in the Chelmos mountains does monk viticulture resonate as it does here. The great vineyard (Megali Ambelos) perches above the Vouraikos Canyon at 800m of height. The winemaker for the wines of Cavino and Mega Spileo is Stelios Tsiris. Varieties grown since re-planting in 1999 include Mavrodafne, Mavro Kalavritino, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Lagorthi, Assyrtiko, Malagousia and Riesling.

Mega Spileo Monastery

Mega Spileo Monastery

Roditis 2014, PDO Patras, Greece

A textured Roditis, its constant refrain one of herbiage, mineral, savoury bite and a direct pinch of austerity. Radiates fashioned with poise and meaning. Drink 2015-2017.  Tasted July 2015

Malagousia 2014, PGI Achaia, Greece

From a blend of three vineyards at 800m in altitude, this is a creamier, riper, more tropical take on the categorical grape. It’s tropical even, leaving peach to ascertain mango. Like a comfortable broth of warm emotions, this Malagousia belongs to the generality of varietal Greek persistence. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Moschato 2014, PGI Achaia, Greece

Nearly bone dry (4 g/L RS) and well-nigh nicked by acidity (6.2 g/L TA) this is really a true expression of the Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, an elegant cold pour into a glass on a breezy, sunny day. Until now Muscat in Achaia “could never look me in the eye” but the flurry of aromatics sing like a songstress in white lace. Its gaze is like lemon and olive oil and its tongue like the sweet wax on the rind. Here the Moschato path has been properly and soulfully taken. Rich in gold, like the kingdom of Agamemnon at Mycenae. Drink 2015-2017.  Tasted July 2015

Deus NV, Peloponnese, Greece

A blend of Moschato (80-90 per cent) and Sideritis, with a prodigious dosage to leave this sparkling wine larboard in the realm of 55 g/L of residual sugar. Translates to a tropical, custardy, sticky and waxy bubble that will repeatedly get you back in Achaia life again. Take a few sips “and I’ll drink and dance with one hand free.” You could really get stoned on this fizz. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Deus Rosato NV, Peloponnese, Greece

Made from 100 per cent Syrah and slightly sweeter than the Muscat, here at 60 g/L RS. The lees, cheese and funk from Syrah turned to sparkling distracts from the sweetness, sending this to parts of southern France in meditative, Mediterranean, savoire savour faire. Raspberry and cranberry vie for sweet and sour supremacy and the wine actually, seemingly turns dry on the peppery, fizzy, tanky and spirited back side. Never backs down and the last conceit is one of tannin. So much more successful than the Moschato. Drink 2015-2019.  Tasted July 2015

Mega Spileo Moschato 2014 Deus and Deus Rose

Mega Spileo Moschato 2014 Deus and Deus Rose

Domaine Mega Spileo Grand Cave 2009, PGI Achaia

A dry vinified blend of Mavrodaphne (60 per cent) and Mavro (black of) Kalavritino that slumbers for 18-24 months (depending on who is offering the dissertation) in “squeaky clean” French oak. A pioneering bottle leading the charging trend to make dry wines from Mavrodaphne. Here so very layered, rich, ferric and in that vein, so very IGT. The oak is judged with a direct gaze into the eyes and density is furthered by demanding Daphne tannin, while flesh and elasticity is the work of the Kalavritino. Like a missile of tannic Syrah with Tuscan like cure in its veins and clotted plasma hanging on its dangling hook. Formidable to be sure. Drink 2017-2022.  Tasted July 2015

Domaine Mega Spileo Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Peloponnese, Greece

An internationally stylized red that invokes the highest thoughts of all in, all out hedonism, more so than just about any varietal Bordeaux outside of Napa, Sonoma or the original mother land.

Thirty-two “boom shaka-laka-laka boom shaka-laka-laka” months in new French and american oak will do that, shouting “I want to take you Achaia” and in retort you should plead don’t leave me Achaia dry.

Looking back, in making decisions to make a wine like this, the thought would be “it’s the best thing that you ever had, the best thing you ever, ever had.” Fruit showtime is now fruit showing its age while oak is determined to suspend structure in purgatory. “Ain’t no valley low enough” so this style must have been tempting to have a go at the time, but times are changing. Ain’t no mountain Achaia enough? Not these days. Drink 2017-2022.  Tasted July 2015

Cavino Mavrodafne Reserve 2000 (Winery)

“We are about to experience one of the best underdogs of Greece,” says Konstantinos Lazarakis M.W. by way of introduction. The world had to wait 18 months plus seven years years for this to appear. A Port-style fortified red, fashioned from the 27 best judged oak barrels and finished in October of 2000. The mix is Mavrodaphne (70 per cent) and Black Corinth (30), expertly amassed and positioned at a time when using the 49 percent maximum allowance of dried raisin was the norm. Ahead of its time in that regards but also because of its rangy acidity, incredible acidity actually, something that gives this dessert wine the essence and spirit of raisin radio. That and a beautiful oxidation and it succeeds in wooing palates, not to mention fulfilling the promise laid bare by Mr. Lazarakis. Drink 2015-2020.  Tasted July 2015

Parparoussis

Achilleos str., 264 42 Proastio, Patras, Greece, 30 2610 420334, info@parparoussis.com

Antanassis Parparoussis and Moschato Vines, Domaine Parparoussis

Athanassios Parparoussis and Moschato Vines, Domaine Parparoussis

Founded in 1974 by oenologist Athanassios Parparoussis who works as winemaker while daughters   Erifili and Dimitra support on the business and marketing side. The winery is located in Patras and the property includes 10 hectares at Movri Achaias. Grapes are farmed organically and Parparoussis is one of only two vintners ion the region making wines from the rare and indigenous Sideritis. Parparoussis farms organically in principal but is not certified, nor is Athanassios concerned with the designation. It’s a matter of being devoutly pragmatic. “The soil is alive, so why kill it.”

Parparoussis Sideritis Dons De Dionysos 2014, Peloponnese, Greece (SAQ 11900995, $21.00, WineAlign)

The 2014 “gift of Dionysus” is herbal, arid, directly unassuming and fixed with a very savoury, nearly resinous pastel palate. The wind blows rosemary and lavender and truthfully it’s like a naturally cured red feeling in a white package. All lemon citrus at the tail. Drink 2015-2016.  Tasted July 2015

Parparoussis Rosé “Petite Fleur” 2014, PGI Achaia, Peloponnese, Greece

Just under 300 cases are made of this pale, lithe and prodigiously lithe blush wine, like the Dionysus, made from 100 per cent Sideritis. Skin maceration was performed overnight, “a one night stand,” while indigenous yeast was employed for a natural, dry vinification. The light and rust-directed antiquity of caste excess has caused an exaggerated herbal, namely oregano aroma. The overall feel is suppositious and may just be one of the great Rosé stories ever told. Drink 2015-2016.  Tasted July 2015

Parparoussis Sideritis Gift of Dionysus 2014 and Agiorgitiko Reserve 2010

Parparoussis Sideritis Gift of Dionysus 2014 and Agiorgitiko Reserve 2010

Parparoussis Les Dons de Dionysus 2010, PGI Achaia, Greece

Barrel Fermented blend of Assyrtiko (75 per cent) and Althorn (25). The first bottle is “not exactly as it should be,” oxidized and unpropitious, while the second pour much less so. In fact it tethers and teeters beautifully near that edge, on that razor the small creature walks, in a Dylan “what’s a sweetheart like you” way. So much more gumptive, anti-preemptive of depth, perception and possibility. Striking in its layering, stinging pierce of Assyrtiko with a suction of Althiri authority. Climbs upon itself and lingers in the air. “It’s done with a flick of the wrist.” Drink 2015-2020.  Tasted July 2015

Parparoussis Reserve Epilegmenos Oenos 2010, PDO Nemea, Greece

Further afield south in the Peloponnese comes this 100 per cent Agiorgitiko. The first bottle has a lactic-cheesy flaw, as if acetate of a mercaptan. One man’s flaw is another man’s history so the question does beg, was this meant to be? A winemaker’s intention? Apparently not. The second bottle, while still blessed of of a definite funk but one that is cleaner, unturned, a washed rind. So very dry. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Parparoussis Rose Petite Fleur 2014 and Taos 2010

Parparoussis Rose Petite Fleur 2014 and Taos 2010

Parparoussis Taos 2010, PGI Achaia, Greece

A barrel fermented, dry vinified, 100 per cent Mavrodaphne. Naturally pitchy, high in acidity and purposed in tannin. A rare zero dilution at the hands of Black Corinthian Raisin and therefore not so high in alcohol, despite the richness of hue. Actually has a modern next tier level of complexity, complexion and aromatic intensity. Purple flowers and plum swirl in its circuitous, cycloid multiplicity. The savoury, resinous black bay laurel and chalky, cooked lentil, the grill and its smouldering charcoal are all in. Further resinous of bay oil on the back bitters and a very Tentura finish. Wild, sauvage, beautiful and built for the ling haul. Drink 2018-2025.  Tasted July 2015

Paparoussis Mavrodaphne of Patras Reserve 2003, PDO Patras, Greece

Vin Doux Nature poured from a 500 mL bottle, at 19 per cent, this is intensely nutty, of crème caramel and Cassis together as one. A marriage of godly sanctified vin santo cordial, with quite the balance from a brilliant vintage. There is heat that never burns, and a piquancy that offers no needed warning, Mavrodaphne of an aged, expertly developed expression. Such bitters at the finish end with wow. Drink 2015-2023.  Tasted July 2015

Paparoussis Muscat of Rio 2010, PDO Rio Patra

The sugar here is a strapping 160 g/L and the cost 15 euros for a 500 mL bottle. A vin de paille with so much more delicacy, structure and elegance and at only 13.5 per cent, a remarkable wine. Spice and relish is so smothered, coddled and pampered. The length is incredible. This is remarkable dessert wine with all tempos in balanace. Drink 2015-2030.  Tasted July 2015

Oenoforos (Rouvalis)

Selinous, 25100 – Aiyion, Greece, 30 2691029415, info@rouvaliswinery.gr.

Aneglos Rouvalis and WineAlign's DJ Kearney

Aneglos Rouvalis and WineAlign’s DJ Kearney

Eonologist is Angelos Rouvalis, a winemaker with an encyclopedic knowledge of every hill and slope in the mountains above Patras and where each variety grows best. Established in 1990 by Rouvalis, a Bordeaux-trained winemaker, recognized internationally as a pioneer in the renaissance that has taken place in the Greek wine industry in recent years. In 1994 Yannis Karabatsos, an agricultural engineer and expert in Greek viticulture joined the winery. “The Oenoforos winery consists of five levels on the slopes of Aigialeia in the village of Selinous. It combines monastic simplicity with state-of-the-art technology.”

Oeneforos Roditis ‘Asprolithi’ 2014, PDO Patras, Greece (SAQ 978197, $16.50, WineAlign)

The “white stone” could be considered the Pinot Grigio of Greece though the pink-skinned variety grown here between 800-1000m is such a bleed of high altitude calcaire. An amalgamated, aromatic accumulation is all about citrus without the airs of pierce and secondary sandarac meets kedros that reminds of clementine. At 11.5 per cent alcohol and low pH it might confuse for Trocken Riesling if not for its classic herbiage and austerity. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Oenoforos Chardonnay Ianos 2009, Peloponnese, Greece

So buttered and creamy, in condition of its two years in oak. Age has delivered corn to popcorn. It’s both unambiguous and atypically Peloponnese, if certainly symptomatic of Chardonnay in a diaspora that veers from its regional path. Like the oak of all clothed Chardonnays, expect the excepted and drink up. Drink 2015-2016. Tasted July 2015

Oenoforos Cabernet Sauvignon Ianos 2004, Peloponnese, Greece (SAQ 11607342, $22.95, WineAlign)

A current release, all in Cabernet Sauvignon 10 plus years down its road after two years in French oak. A bold and state-of-the art for its time cool-climate take, with a clear and ad hoc Sonoma-like intention, with attitude out of altitude despite ’04’s nothing but average growing season. Herbaceous and currant direct Cabernet with plenty of fruit that has remained true and in the bottle. Sweet scents, floral and red citrus and expressly, naturally Greek. Red fruit from red soil. Has a natural, slightly oxidative cure that has emerged out of that oak shell. Strikes as a wine that needed this extended held-back time to get to this place. The palate’s fruit is dried and saline now, with tannin insistent in persistence. Rich but not nearly so, a gently rolling and evolving Cabernet with life in it yet, though the raisin character suggests now is better than tomorrow. Not so much mythologically invented, as it is internationally purposed, so it’s more a matter of higher and lower. The wine’s universe is a flat disc with hills, touched at its rims by the vast dome of the heavens. Drink 2015-2016.  Tasted July 2015

Oeneforos Rosé Mikros Vorias 2014, Peloponnese, Greece

Syrah with Viognier and Roditis. A layer upon layer blush combing of dry extract over full extract. Another example of the region’s ability to achieve Rosé excellence and the practice should both be encouraged and expanded upon. Drink 2015-2016.  Tasted July 2015

Oeneforos Chardonnay-Sauvignon Blanc Mikros Vorias 2014, Peloponnese, Greece

The white blend representation for the house line of fresh and direct wines translates to “small northern wind,” and here the SB sticks out like an Achaian thumb, dominating the nose with grass and capsicum. It’s toasty and almost Pouilly-Fumé smokey mixed with a pinch of Fuissé. The identity quandary brings Galician Albariño to mind, seen in the spirited almost effervescent tinniness. Very lime palate and fast forwards to stage right, running all the way. Drink 2015-2016.  Tasted July 2015

Oenoforos Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon Mikros Vorias 2014, Peloponnese, Greece

Rusty and cured, just not quite ripe red plum, from a 60-40 combo, with a healthy level of veneer. Has gumption, pierce and a citrus red bleed. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Oenoforos Asprolithi 'White Stones' 2014 and Syrah Ianos 2007

Oenoforos Asprolithi ‘White Stones’ 2014 and Syrah Ianos 2007

Oenoforos Syrah Ianos 2007, Peloponnese, Greece

Ferric, volatile, bretty but believe me when I say, all in a good way. The lingering meaty chew and porcine Mulligatwany is the expatriate Syrah equivalent of high gastronomy. A wild and wooly match to the Beef Stifado at To Katafygio. Drink 2015-2016.  Tasted July 2015

Antonopoulos Vineyards

25008 Vassiliko Chalandritsas, Patra, 30 2694061447, info@antonopoulosvineyards.com

The winery was founded by the late visionary winemaker, Constantinos Antonopoulos near the city of Patras in the northwestern of Peloponnese. Constantinos saw the vast, untapped potential of this diverse landscape, especially the mountainous region of Achaia and the unique winemaking opportunities it presented. A new up to-date winery has been built recently at Vasiliko, Achaia, where the majority of the winery’s vineyards are. Indigenous Greek varieties are the focus. All three Antonopoulos wines tasted at the winery Achaia Clauss were clearly achieved through very serious work. Though clean beyond the pale, they all exhibit slightly to more than leesy and all finish with so much salinity and limestone inflection. The only thing missing is the crustaceous accent.

Antonopoulos Vineyards

Antonopoulos Vineyards

Antonopoulos Moschofilero 2014, PGI Arkadia, Greece

A rich, striking, citrus Moschofilero with a beautifully severe tannic tang and many layers, scraped from a stone’s bleed and a gaze into the rock’s mirror. A wine akin to a creation of a true alphabet, made complex like the dactylic hexameter in poetry or a rhythmic scheme. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Antonopoulos Adholi This White 2014, PGI Achaia, Greece

Essential and pedigreed blend of Lohorthi 65 per cent), Chardonnay (20) and Roditis (15) that expresses increased aromatics much like Viognier. Nearly profoundly tropical but so very dry, like Assyrtiko in its cracking open but with the feel of wild yeast and the feign of barrel. Chalk it up to 800-900m clay-limestone speak and no more than that, creasing to a crisp effervescence without bubble, yet it does tingle of the tongue. Like it’s working all the while, then on to citrus on the end, in lemon and lime torque as if by Riesling. The Moschofilero might be Mycenaean Linear B and this the other, later Greek alphabet. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Antonopoulos Malagousia 2014, PGI Achaia, Greece

From sand and clay vineyards in the region of Aghios-Athanasios at a height of 600-900m. Picked late near the end of September to early october and cocrete and thought the ferment is a stainless one, this Malgousia exhibits a natural yeasty funk commingling with moving texture and savour that incorporates grasses. The sting of nettle wins over the softness and spumes a hay fever of grass. A warming, adult of a wine, with some power to age. Drink 2016-2021.  Tasted July 2015

Acheon Winery

Korinthou 121, Aigio, Greece, 30 26910 28062, info@acheonwinery.gr.

Sosanna Katsikosta is Oenologist and General Manager while Katerina heads up business and marketing operations. The sisters are carrying on a winemaking tradition passed on to them from their late father. Konstantinos Katsikostas carried the torch from his father Luke who founded the winery in 1946 in the area of Palaiokamares of Aegio. Annual production of 2,000 cases. Katsikosta is desperately, passionately practicing, experimenting, trying to stir up vinous ghosts and find their way back to ancestry, to ways of elders, to bring to light what used to be and to establish an identity for the world to see.

Acheon Roditis 2014, PDO Patras, Greece

A quintessential “Fox” Roditis, from low yields (40 hL/L), 900 m above sea level, in organic balance at 12 per cent alcohol. A distinct stone tang, push, pierce and a slight tingle or fizz on the tip of the tongue. Highly concentrated out of an elevated dry extract, with mineral and lemon. One of the more expressive push-pull of fruit and mineral. For everyday consumption with a bit of honey in its two to three year future. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Acheon Sideritis 2014, PGI Achaia, Greece

The nearly extant one, a rare variety, being revived, planted at low altitudes, with yields 70-75 hL/L. Aromatic and misunderstood, with a Savagnin character, a funky, musky skin, like leather but not as deep, yet something oddly tropical, like jackfruit, or gummy bear, dusty ginger, and resin, like thyme. Another variety being worked with to see what it can be and to link back to what once was. Really good acidity. Drink 2015-2016.  Tasted July 2015

Acheon Sideritis 2014 and Rose Fairytale 2014

Acheon Sideritis 2014 and Rose Fairytale 2014

Acheon Moschato 2014, PGI Achaia, Greece

A banana and metal White Muscat, with plenty of herbal qualities, terrific saline and stony acidity dominating the palate. A medicinal grapefruit chew, not of pith, but of skin. Arid as a grove in wind and finishing with good length. Very interesting. Drink 2015-2017.  Tasted July 2015

Acheon Laura Nera 2012, PGI Eigialia Slopes

Mavrodaphe and nothing but, vinified dry, subjected to no aging. The smell of bay laurel (thus the varietal name) and fashioned for freshness. Still in command of a musty emmision this one, a strange cure, like some cool-climate, winter hardy hybrids, like Maréchal Foch and Frontenac. Perhaps a touch warmer, like opening the doors to Pinotage without the toast and the oak to fill and sweeten the green, reductive gaps. Has the roadhouse blues so “Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel.” Drink 2015-2017.  Tasted July 2015

Acheon Rosé Fairytale, Peloponnese, Greece

A semi-sweet Rosé composed from 90 per cent Muscat co-fermented with 10 per cent Mavrodaphne. Dessert of blush hue and sappy, leesy, medicinal bitters. Very orange rind and chlorite, somewhat port-esque but so much more a tisane of pekoe and cough elixir. Totally off the charts different. Really like nothing tasted before. Drink 2015-2016.  Tasted July 2015

Wines of Parparoussis, Loukatos and Kontrotsos, Parparoussis Winery, Patras

Wines of Parparoussis, Loukatos and Kontrotsos, Parparoussis Winery, Patras

Kotrotsos

Vassiliko Achaias TK. 25008, 30 26940 61 900, vinko@otenet.gr. Winemaker is Giannis Kotrotsos.

Kotrotsos Erasmios Moschofilero 2014, Peloponnese, Greece

An unctuous, ambrosial Moschofilero, highly aromatic, of citrus and orange grove. A 12.5 appealing alcohol per cent and surround sound of acidity, good length and a bitter ending that follows a twinge of steely crick. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Kotrotsos Muscat NV, PDO Muscat of Rio Patras

Also based on the 2013 vintage and c charging in at 15 per cent alcohol, here there is more rust, funk and metal, certainly not as fruit forward as expected. Sweetness is elongated, stretched and elastic, then snaps back to linear and upright. Drink 2016-2022.  Tasted July 2015

Kotrotsos Mavrodaphne NV, PDO Mavrodaphne of Patras, Greece The standard 15 per cent alcohol and in this plugged in, short fuse sweet wine is highly intense and lit caper green, dried fruit and a serious pasticcio of botanicals, distilled into a major excitative and concentrated sweetness.  The second bottle tasted has so much more life and character. Much more sweet floral attractiveness and the sweetness is less pronounced as a result. Goes from spice and piquancy to sweetness with the right transitory methodology, culminating in a great LBV Port finish. Nutty and spicy. Tremendous fruit forward expression.  Drink 2016-2024.  Tasted July 2015

Kotrotsos Chardonnay Oinos Aekos 2014, PGI Achaia, Greece

Combinbes barrel and resin for a full on savoury effect and so much noticeable, piercing grape tannin. Fierce, uncompromising, non-integrating invaluable invalid of tannin. So very cool climate savoury Chardonnay. Striking actually and a very acquired taste. Drink 2015-2016.  Tasted July 2015

Kotrotsos Agiorgitiko Erasmios 2012, Nemea, Greece An intoxicating perfume, of violets and charcuterie, floral and cure, vegetative and saline. Lactic, talcy, opaque and dusty, like Cabernet Franc from the coolest locale. Finishes saline again, chewy even. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Karelas Winery

Georgios J. Karellas A.V.E.E, 41-43, Skagiopouliou Str., Patras, 262 22, 30 2610 321 000, karelas7@hotmail.com

Karelas Winery was founded in 1936 by Georgios Karelas. Using the native ‘Mavrodaphne’ grape, the company is renowned for it’s sweet, dessert style Mavrodaphne wine.

Karelas Pelagos 2013, PGI Achaia, Greece

Merlot and Mavrodaphne share the cure and the veneer of a strange bedfellow blend, the old and the new, the rust and the dust, the red and the black, the visitor and the been there done that. Tough acidity and tannin over red citrus fruit. Not shy. Drink 2016-2020.  Tasted July 2015

Karelas Achais 2013, PGI Achaia, Greece

Cabernet Sauvignon and Mavrodaphne smothered in more  obvious oak, though less tension and demand. A softer wine in using Cabernet over Merlot, ripened easier, better, with a second gear and then  into acidity mode. Again the cool climate veneer with a warm, savoury, minty middle. Drink 2015-2019.  Tasted July 2015

Mega Spileo Mavrodaphne and Karelas Mavrodaphe Reserve 2009

Mega Spileo Mavrodaphne and Karelas Mavrodaphe Reserve 2009

Karelas Mavrodaphne Reserve 2009, PDO Mavrodaphne of Patras, Greece

The only Mavrodaphne aged in highly seasoned toasted new French barrels. The standard weight bearing 15 per cent alcohol and a similar feeling as with previous kicks at the sweet Mavrodaphne can, but more red fruit and brighter raisins in the sun. The spice and liqueur here seem less spirited and combine for a more mature, seasoned, reasoned, direct and ultimately cleaner expression. Captain Jack (or George) will get you Achaia tonight “and take you to your special island.” Drink 2015-2022.  Tasted July 2015

Loukatos

Loukatos Bros, Β 3 & ΟΤ 24, Industrial Zone Patra 25018 Achaia / Patra, Greece, 30 2610 647588,  info@loukatos.com.gr

Perhaps most famous for their local production of spirits, namely Tentura and Mastic, Loukatos does a bang up job with dessert wines, especially in their handling of Muscat from Patras.

Loukatos Mavrodaphne NV, PDO Mavrodaphne of Patras, Greece

Vin de liqueur clocking in at 15 per cent alcohol. The dried roses and red flowers in liqueur link it to the likes of a Late Bottle Vintage Port. Wakes with a start, in sting and presence. Really lingers, tasting of blanched nuts and Halls mentholyptus. This batch was blended with 47 percent corinithian grape. The finish is so Manischevitz. Drink 2015-2023.  Tasted July 2015

Loukatos Muscat of Patras and Mavrodaphne of Patras

Loukatos Muscat of Patras and Mavrodaphne of Patras

Loukatos Muscat NV, PDO Muscat of Patras (WineAlign)

A 15 per cent abv Vin de Liqueur largely based on the 2013 vintage. Very clementine and apricot nosed, impeccably balanced from viscous to intensity in grape, with nothing musty or musky about it, though there is a musk melon sense, a botrytis that is very clean. Another excellent, natural sweet Patras example of what Muscat can do, again at super low cost, with high flavour and here, more fruit forward than the Kotrotos. Drink 2015-2021.  Tasted July 2015

Hahalis (Chahalis) Mavrodaphne 2011, PDO Mavrodaphne of Patras, Greece

Spent one year in barrel, the Tentura Castro “The Castle” is raisined and resinous with so much heavy artillery and coats of armour. The macro intent so black and porous, oxidative but alive, heavy and warm in alcohol but spirited and shooting cupid’s arrows. Sweet and Amarone trophy in a sense, with licorice and spice unlike anything else. Idiosyncratic to the nth degree. Drink 2015-2021.  Tasted July 2015

Achaia Clauss Mavrodaphne NV, PDO Mavrodaphne of Patras, Greece

From a lot penned Bin 601 at the standard 15 per cent alcohol and acting like it came from a 100 year-old barrel, of sitting bull wisdom and Bavarian history. Much like port, like brandy spirits and liquorice melting into cinnamon and clove. Not so idiosyncratic but resinous, sappy and piquant. Once you come to know these wines they speak this very direct language. Drink 2015-2025.  Tasted July 2015

Patraiki Mavrodpahe NV, PDO Mavrodaphne of Patras, Greece

A direct, rich, full-bodied leathery red of fruit the same that soaks in simple, sweet liqueur. The most accessible, commercial macro-intention of the black laurel lot. Drink 2015-2020.  Tasted July 2015

Crisis? No one’s gonna bring Greece down, nor me neither, ’till I again reach Achaia ground.

Good to go!

http://www.winealign.com/profile/2058-mjg

Till I reach Achaia ground

View of the mountains of Achaia from Tetramythos Winery and Homestay, Ano Diakopto of Aegialia, on the slopes of Mount Chelmos, Peloponnese

View of the mountains of Achaia from Tetramythos Winery and Homestay, Ano Diakopto of Aegialia, on the slopes of Mount Chelmos, Peloponnese

as seen on WineAlign

Man I wish I was there right now. Have you recently pondered or are you considering a visit to Greece? Have the sensational media reports of the last month cast a shadow of doubt on your travel plans? Are you worried about economic crises, ATM line-ups, looting and civil unrest? Don’t be. Do not fall victim as prey to dictum on what you or those who are telling you really do not know. You should go. Greece is just fine thank you very much. She welcomes visitors with open arms. This is what she wants and what she needs.

Crisis, what crisis? 

I am no John Maynard Keynes, have never rooted with Milton Friedman and can’t confidently say that my economic stars align with Paul Krugman, but on my recent trip to Athens and Achaia I saw nary a sign of unparalleled and utter economic disaster, of panic, anarchy or civil disobedience. I had many a conversation about government, taxes and the Euro. I learned that no is the new yes, “but whatever…” and that Greek wine aligns with the functions of the European union.

Write your problems down in detail Take them to a higher place

I am inclined to say, with indubitable and unequivocal doubt that Greece is the safest, most affordable and stupidly beautiful place on the planet. There is adventure, breathtaking vistas and scarcely, if commensurately discovered antiquity at every turn. And there is wine. Exceptional wine. Singular wine. Mythological wine. I can tell you five things I learned about the 21st century state of things Greece.

  1. Athens is a busy, hot, labyrinthian metropolis that somehow feels like an ancient village. It may just be the most unassailable and secure Gotham I have ever encountered. It did not leave me tired, on the contrary, it fuelled invigoration.
  2. Encounters with beautiful, nurtured and erudite folks along the course of a given day affords an equipotentiality to reaffirm faith in humans. Doors are always open.
  3. Bad governance may lead to civil jeremiad and global media strategies built upon the inevitable crumbling foundations of sensationalism and hyperbole, but Greece’s main concern is just that. Bad governance. Business carries on as usual, albeit with a noticeable reduction in smoking and petrol usage, but restaurants, cafes, coffee shops and shopping are not on hold. Centuries have seen such woe and yet Greece persists, remains and progresses. “Believe only half of what you see and nothing that you hear.” America may have long ago entered its Last Great American Whale period but Greece? Not even close. “They say things are done for the majority” and in the case of Greece, that just may be true. In a time of crisis, there are many business opportunists. Hard times? Grow better grapes. Can’t sell them at home? Export more than before and make better money.
  4. The combination of mountains, ocean, beaches and the symbiotic proximity of the appositeness is nothing short of mind-altering, awe-inspiring and soul-asservating.
  5. Forget the idea that Greek wine offers up some of the best values, anywhere. Consider that sort of posturing a given and or inconsequential in consideration of the adage that good wine is good wine, period, regardless of price. The wine producing regions of Santorini (Aegean), Thessaloniki/Naoussa (Macedonia) and Nemea (Peloponnese) have made wide inroads on the global scene. Yet how many of you have ever heard of Achaia and Patras in the northern Peloponnese? It is on the verge of breaking out. Obscurity no longer. Uncertainty be gone.

At the pass

Greece has been mired in waiting, or depending on your level of positivity and how to spin, poised to break out. The Greek wine industry is securely fastened in a place somewhere between the relic glow of early period brilliance and the cusp of legacy defining, career opus penning compositions. It is a work in process and the best is yet to come. The wines of Achaia are entirely indicative of this intellection. Antiquity is an amazing tourist attraction and in Achaia, as in the entirety of Greece, you can’t blink without stumbling upon a metaphorical doric this or an allegorical ionic that. Cradles of civilization just have a certain den xéro̱ ti and Greece is the world super-power. The question begs. How does this apply to wine?

Like so many wine producing nations not called France, Germany or Italy, Greece is poised for modern greatness but it has one distinct advantage. It lays ownership to some absolute conditions that easily separate it from emerging and developing, New World regions, but also from European peers. The first is obvious and that of course is a centuries old tradition of making wine. The second may come as a surprise, especially as it relates to wine. Mythology covets a paradigmatic relationship with Greek culture, however intangible it can be quantified. A visit to Achaia offers tantamount proof of such a notion. This from New Wines of Greece: “The fascinating archaeological sites with the notable museums and the grape-growing and wine-making history directly tied to the myth of Hercules are just some of the attributes that will appeal to those who indulge in wine tourism in the Peloponnese.”

Then there is the confluence from the slopes of Egialia, said to form the centre of the triangle of Ancient DelfiOlympia and Epidavros. It was not long ago that I connected the divine and the allegorical with Greek wine. I quote myself. “Me, I’ll concentrate on the divine mythology of Greek wine, of its place in the fractal world, how it can beautify and simplify, through recursion in dynamic systems, the bleak chaos of wine landscapes. Like the Morai, Greek wines are thread with motherly nurturing. For mere mortals, they direct fate from the birth of their drinking days to death. They are a highly independent bunch, unobstructed and driven by necessity.” It would be obtuse to ignore the hyper-reality of all these extraordinary things, to discount the divined revelation through profound symbols of religious myth. To see the analogy and pertinency with the mathematics of wine; pH, sugar, acidity and alcohol. Not exactly Pythagorean, certainly not Orphic, but mysterious somehow.

The Achaia advantage: From PGI to PDO and endemic varietals

The Peloponnese is located in the southernmost section of continental (western) Greece, its western and northern borders lining the Ionian Sea and the Corinthian Gulf. Homer called it Ampeloessa, meaning “full of vines.” The Achaian advantage is more than just a matter of slope and soil. The Nazi attrocities committed at Kalavryta will always be remembered as the darkest of Peloponnese days but neither war nor Phylloxera has truly interrupted centuries of growth and tradition.

Achaia is one of Greece’s largest wine regions and its 31 wineries accounts for approximately 10 per cent of the national wine output. The mesoclimate of Achaia is determined by a combination of mountain and sea. Erymanthos, Panachaikos and Chelmos range for vines at up to 850m though in Egialia grapes grow as high as 1050m. There are slopes here with a northern aspect, a factor which is not lost on the winemaker in search of cool-climate viticulture. The mountain man of Eigalia Angelos Rouvalis points to the hills and talks of  “a rare terroir, where facing north can achieve a significant drop in temperatures, creating specific vine balances, which is difficult to achieve in other places.” It is also here that the waters of the gulfs (Patras and Corinth) cool and temper the climate. Stronger winds ward off the warmer streams blowing up from Africa, creating a much cooler viticultural area than Patras.

The northern Peloponnese vineyards are divided into four distinct viticultural locales. In the east, in the areas of Egialia (Aegialia) and Kalavryta, the PGI Egialia wines are produced. Egialia’s temperate climate and northerly orientation on (250 to 850m) slopes are protected by the cool summer sea breezes of the Gulf of Korinthos (Corinth). Pausanias was a Greek traveler and geographer of the 2nd century AD, who lived in the times of Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. He referred to the villages of Egialia as ideal for cultivating vines. Egialia soils vary from white calcareous to fertile sandy loam with good drainage.

It is in Egialia that the endemic white (blush) and highly aromatic variety Roditis ripens ever so gently. The varietal take in the lower (450 to 500m), yet similar climate for the vineyards of Patras makes for wines of fuller body. Lower Patras slopes are positioned for another indigenous grape, the red varietal Mavrodaphne. Traditionally purposed for desert wine, modern usage of the “black” Daphne is happening for dry table wine, as is the black of Kalavryta (Mavro Kalavryta), from grapes grown on slopes close to the tourist town of Kalavryta. The coastal flatlands between Patras and Rio to the east are dominated by the white Muscat. The varietal watch is on for Mavro Kalavryta, a grape that performs like Gamay or perhaps Cabernet Franc. In the hands of a winemaker like Panayiotis Papagiannopoulos it will be a wine to help mark the act of Achaia’s second renaissance. Konstantinos Lazarakis M.W. sees it as “the best Gamay that is not Gamay.” This is a man who knows his audience. 😉 This is a grape that will define fresh and further down the Peloponnese road for red wines and begin to separate from itself from other red attempts. It’s future will see the establishment of plots into crus, to make simple fruity reds to drink and also more serious wines, to experiment and to use some older barrels and to envision the future when it has been given some age.

Konstantinos Lazarakis M.W. and Sofia Perpera, New Wines of Greece at the Sailing Club Restaurant, Patras

Konstantinos Lazarakis M.W. and Sofia Perpera, New Wines of Greece at the Sailing Club Restaurant, Patras

The four officially recognized PDO‘s are Muscat of Patras, Muscat of Rio Patras, Mavrodaphne of Patras and Patras. The first three are produced in the central and western section of Achaia. The local Muscat is known to the world as Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains and in Achaia as Moschidi. Under the regulations of both Muscat PDOs the wines may be vin naturellement douxvin doux or vin doux naturel. PDO Patras is made from 100 per cent Roditis, though there are several clones of this variety. Specific clones are generally chosen based on altitude, as each variant has been proven to work on particular slopes. The top wines are produced from a red Roditis, also known as Alepou. The PDO Mavrodaphne of Patras (Fortified, Vin De Liqueur) can be fashioned with up to 49 per cent dried and rehydrated Corinthian Raisin (Black Currant) in the mix.

Black Corinth Grapes

Black Corinth Grapes

Despite the fact that the predominant amount (almost 99 per cent) of Black Corinth ends up in a pouch full of currants, its agricultural significance continues to play a role in the sweet red Mavrodaphne of Patras. Top quality vineyards have historically been cultivated with the Black Corinth because they fetch as much as 300 per cent more money than wine grapes. The bizarre terroir-varietal-trade flow chart is changing for the better but the raisins remain a long way from extinction. Slopes that face the sun perpetuate the propagation. Then there is the unusual scenario of the earthquake factor. “In Patras we are either raisining or shaking,” quips Lazarakis.

Kalavryta Mountain Tea

Kalavryta Mountain Tea

Other white varieties grown in the region include the extremely rare Sideritis (only two producers for the variety that shares a name in common with a flowering plant known as Greek Mountain Tea), Malagousia, Lagorthi, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Other red grapes cultivated include Agiorgitiko, Xinomavro, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. The wines of Achaia are built upon an alcohol premise that keeps them stable, in balance and immune from oxidation. Their attitude fights the life work of Louis Pasteur and Jean-Antoine Claude Chaptal. If the wines lost some footing due to the trending towards bacteria and sugar mien, now, with the world peeling back from manipulated wines, the Achaian style is poised to grab their market share.

Accidental tourists at the Archaeological Museum of Patras

Accidental tourists at the Archaeological Museum of Patras

 

Tetramythos

8ο kil. Pounta-Kalavrita, Ano Diakopto, 25003, Greece, 2691097500 The most modern facility in all of Achaia, re-built after a fire destroyed the property more than 10 years ago. Owned and operated by the brothers Aristos and Stathis Spanos.

Panayiotis Papagiannopoulos, Tetramythos Winery

Panayiotis Papagiannopoulos, Tetramythos Winery

Oenologist since 1999 is Panayiotis Papagiannopoulos, a winemaker who may just have been separated from twin Frank Zappa at birth. Located at Ano Diakopto of Egialia, on the slopes of Mount Chelmos, the 14 hectares of vineyards (450-1,000m) are farmed organically (and have been since 1997). Bush vines make up 80 per cent and endemic varieties (85 per cent) cultivated (plus some expatriates) are Roditis, Malagousia, Sauvignon Blanc, Mavro Kalavryta, Agiorgitiko, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The total production is 13,000 cases with export to foreign markets (80 per cent) that exceeds peers by a wide margin.

Ano Diakopto of Egialia

Tetramythos Winery, Ano Diakopto of Egialia

Tetramythos Roditis 2014, PDO Patras, Greece (SAQ 12484575, $15.75, WineAlign)

Pulled from four vineyards at 650-850m of altitude and from vines 19-42 years old. No skin contact though it shows a light, slight tinge of colour. Nearly platinum in its yellow hue, perhaps attributed to organics says Papagiannopoulos, Eighty per cent was achieved through natural ferment (with zero malolactic) plus “one tank for security.” Roditis can go clean or develop anti-austerity, texture, viscosity in the direction of a dirty projector. The Tetramythos glides “forward through the clover and the bergamot.” I can see what she’s seeing. Tasting like a leesy ripe peach, this is the best “basic” Roditis tasted in Achaia. Serious match of Aleria Restaurant‘s Sea Bass Tartare. Drink 2015-2020.  Tasted July 2015

Tetramythos Roditis 2008, PDO Patras, Greece

A wine to fulfill the promise of my own personal vindication. I had asked Angelos Rouvalis about laying Roditis down for three to five years or more, to see where it may go and he said, “why?” Here is why. Has fan vaulted to the skies, urged by petrol and a symphony of mythology. Akin and within aromatic mineral reach of Sémillon or Riesling, with just a basal drip of ambrosial, gaseous honey. The green notes (of pea and nettle) are exaggerated but that is attributed to 2008 fruit that may have never been fully ripe. Drink 2015-2017.  Tasted July 2015

Tetramythos Roditis 2014 and Muscat Sec Blanc Nature 2014

Tetramythos Roditis 2014 and Muscat Sec Blanc Nature 2014

Tetramythos Muscat Sec Blanc Nature 2014, PGI Peloponnese, Greece

Nothing short of lucent, this friable, direct and crunchy raw Muscat. Effusive of individual vowels and consonants, typically Achaian, extrapolated to Greek in its lambent and inventive simplicity. More glade than wax, it coats with orange and the spirit of lime. So different and yet so familiar, inevitably dry and straight as an arrow. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Tetramythos Mavro Kalavryta 2014 (SAQ 11885457WineAlign)

A terrific example for a grape saved from extinction, Tetramythos owns 1.9 of a total four hectares of MK. Kudos for the effort especially considering the variety is thin skinned, slow to mature and difficult to cultivate. Saw nearly 20 days of skin contact because “the variety dictates the practice,” notes Konstantinos Lazarakis M.W. The fruit and bitters express a push-pull of terroir. One of two wineries making dry wines from the endemic variety, here the fresh red grape, the food friendly marker. Here confidently struts modern Achaian winemaking, from the ashes of naturalism and antiquity, the way Gamay or Loire Cabernet Franc are wont to do. Vibrant, with verve and a necessary natural funk. Herbal and with a rub of tomato skin, creamy, cool yet resinous, followed through from aroma to texture. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Kotrotsos Moschofilero Erasmios 2014 and Tetramythos Mavro Kalavryta 2014

Kotrotsos Moschofilero Erasmios 2014 and Tetramythos Mavro Kalavryta 2014

Domaine Mega Spileo (Cavino)

The domain is set within a dramatically oriented steppe of an amphitheatre, in a bowl beneath the shadow of a 940m rock that houses the great Greek Orthodox monastery of Mega Spileo (Grand Cave). Nowhere else in the Chelmos mountains does monk viticulture resonate as it does here. The great vineyard (Megali Ambelos) perches above the Vouraikos Canyon at 800m of height. The winemaker for the wines of Cavino and Mega Spileo is Stelios Tsiris. Varieties grown since re-planting in 1999 include Mavrodafne, Mavro Kalavritino, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Lagorthi, Assyrtiko, Malagousia and Riesling.

Mega Spileo Monastery

Mega Spileo Monastery

Moschato 2014, PGI Achaia, Greece

Nearly bone dry (4 g/L RS) and well-nigh nicked by acidity (6.2 g/L TA) this is really a true expression of the Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, an elegant cold pour into a glass on a breezy, sunny day. Until now Muscat in Achaia “could never look me in the eye” but the flurry of aromatics sing like a songstress in white lace. Its gaze is like lemon and olive oil and its tongue like the sweet wax on the rind. Here the Moschato path has been properly and soulfully taken. Rich in gold, like the kingdom of Agamemnon at Mycenae. Drink 2015-2017.  Tasted July 2015

Deus Rosato NV, Peloponnese, Greece

Made from 100 per cent Syrah and slightly sweeter than the Muscat, here at 60 g/L RS. The lees, cheese and funk from Syrah turned to sparkling distracts from the sweetness, sending this to parts of southern France in meditative, Mediterranean, savoire savour faire. Raspberry and cranberry vie for sweet and sour supremacy and the wine actually, seemingly turns dry on the peppery, fizzy, tanky and spirited back side. Never backs down and the last conceit is one of tannin. So much more successful than the Moschato. Drink 2015-2019.  Tasted July 2015

Mega Spileo Moschato 2014 Deus and Deus Rose

Mega Spileo Moschato 2014 Deus and Deus Rose

Cavino Mavrodafne Reserve 2000 (Winery)

“We are about to experience one of the best underdogs of Greece,” says Konstantinos Lazarakis M.W. by way of introduction. The world had to wait 18 months plus seven years years for this to appear. A Port-style fortified red, fashioned from the 27 best judged oak barrels and finished in October of 2000. The mix is Mavrodaphne (70 per cent) and Black Corinth (30), expertly amassed and positioned at a time when using the 49 percent maximum allowance of dried raisin was the norm. Ahead of its time in that regards but also because of its rangy acidity, incredible acidity actually, something that gives this dessert wine the essence and spirit of raisin radio. That and a beautiful oxidation and it succeeds in wooing palates, not to mention fulfilling the promise laid bare by Mr. Lazarakis. Drink 2015-2020.  Tasted July 2015

Parparoussis

Achilleos str., 264 42 Proastio, Patras, Greece, 30 2610 420334, info@parparoussis.com

Antanassis Parparoussis and Moschato Vines, Domaine Parparoussis

Athanassios Parparoussis and Moschato Vines, Domaine Parparoussis

Founded in 1974 by oenologist Athanassios Parparoussis who works as winemaker while daughters Erifili and Dimitra support on the business and marketing side. The winery is located in Patras and the property includes 10 hectares at Movri Achaias. Grapes are farmed organically and Parparoussis is one of only two vintners ion the region making wines from the rare and indigenous Sideritis. Parparoussis farms organically in principal but is not certified, nor is Athanassios concerned with the designation. It’s a matter of being devoutly pragmatic. “The soil is alive, so why kill it.”

Parparoussis Sideritis Dons De Dionysos 2014, Peloponnese, Greece (SAQ 11900995, $21.00, WineAlign)

The 2014 “gift of Dionysus” is herbal, arid, directly unassuming and fixed with a very savoury, nearly resinous pastel palate. The wind blows rosemary and lavender and truthfully it’s like a naturally cured red feeling in a white package. All lemon citrus at the tail. Drink 2015-2016.  Tasted July 2015

Parparoussis Rosé “Petite Fleur” 2014, PGI Achaia, Peloponnese, Greece

Just under 300 cases are made of this pale, lithe and prodigiously lithe blush wine, like the Dionysus, made from 100 per cent Sideritis. Skin maceration was performed overnight, “a one night stand,” while indigenous yeast was employed for a natural, dry vinification. The light and rust-directed antiquity of caste excess has caused an exaggerated herbal, namely oregano aroma. The overall feel is suppositious and may just be one of the great Rosé stories ever told. Drink 2015-2016.  Tasted July 2015

Parparoussis Sideritis Gift of Dionysus 2014 and Agiorgitiko Reserve 2010

Parparoussis Sideritis Gift of Dionysus 2014 and Agiorgitiko Reserve 2010

Parparoussis Taos 2010, PGI Achaia, Greece

A barrel fermented, dry vinified, 100 per cent Mavrodaphne. Naturally pitchy, high in acidity and purposed in tannin. A rare zero dilution at the hands of Black Corinthian Raisin and therefore not so high in alcohol, despite the richness of hue. Actually has a modern next tier level of complexity, complexion and aromatic intensity. Purple flowers and plum swirl in its circuitous, cycloid multiplicity. The savoury, resinous black bay laurel and chalky, cooked lentil, the grill and its smouldering charcoal are all in. Further resinous of bay oil on the back bitters and a very Tentura finish. Wild, sauvage, beautiful and built for the ling haul. Drink 2018-2025.  Tasted July 2015

Oenoforos (Rouvalis)

Selinous, 25100 – Aiyion, Greece, 30 2691029415, info@rouvaliswinery.gr.

Aneglos Rouvalis and WineAlign's DJ Kearney

Aneglos Rouvalis and WineAlign’s DJ Kearney

Eonologist is Angelos Rouvalis, a winemaker with an encyclopedic knowledge of every hill and slope in the mountains above Patras and where each variety grows best. Established in 1990 by Rouvalis, a Bordeaux-trained winemaker, recognized internationally as a pioneer in the renaissance that has taken place in the Greek wine industry in recent years. In 1994 Yannis Karabatsos, an agricultural engineer and expert in Greek viticulture joined the winery. “The Oenoforos winery consists of five levels on the slopes of Aigialeia in the village of Selinous. It combines monastic simplicity with state-of-the-art technology.”

Oeneforos Roditis ‘Asprolithi’ 2014, PDO Patras, Greece (SAQ 978197, $16.50, WineAlign)

The “white stone” could be considered the Pinot Grigio of Greece though the pink-skinned variety grown here between 800-1000m is such a bleed of high altitude calcaire. An amalgamated, aromatic accumulation is all about citrus without the airs of pierce and secondary sandarac meets kedros that reminds of clementine. At 11.5 per cent alcohol and low pH it might confuse for Trocken Riesling if not for its classic herbiage and austerity. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Antonopoulos Vineyards

25008 Vassiliko Chalandritsas, Patra, 30 2694061447, info@antonopoulosvineyards.com

The winery was founded by the late visionary winemaker, Constantinos Antonopoulos near the city of Patras in the northwestern of Peloponnese. Constantinos saw the vast, untapped potential of this diverse landscape, especially the mountainous region of Achaia and the unique winemaking opportunities it presented. A new up to-date winery has been built recently at Vasiliko, Achaia, where the majority of the winery’s vineyards are. Indigenous Greek varieties are the focus. All three Antonopoulos wines tasted at the winery Achaia Clauss were clearly achieved through very serious work. Though clean beyond the pale, they all exhibit slightly to more than leesy and all finish with so much salinity and limestone inflection. The only thing missing is the crustaceous accent.

Antonopoulos Vineyards

Antonopoulos Vineyards

Antonopoulos Adholi This White 2014, PGI Achaia, Greece

Essential and pedigreed blend of Lohorthi 65 per cent), Chardonnay (20) and Roditis (15) that expresses increased aromatics much like Viognier. Nearly profoundly tropical but so very dry, like Assyrtiko in its cracking open but with the feel of wild yeast and the feign of barrel. Chalk it up to 800-900m clay-limestone speak and no more than that, creasing to a crisp effervescence without bubble, yet it does tingle of the tongue. Like it’s working all the while, then on to citrus on the end, in lemon and lime torque as if by Riesling. The Moschofilero might be Mycenaean Linear B and this the other, later Greek alphabet. Drink 2015-2018.  Tasted July 2015

Acheon Winery

Korinthou 121, Aigio, Greece, 30 26910 28062, info@acheonwinery.gr.

Sosanna Katsikosta is Oenologist and General Manager while Katerina heads up business and marketing operations. The sisters are carrying on a winemaking tradition passed on to them from their late father. Konstantinos Katsikostas carried the torch from his father Luke who founded the winery in 1946 in the area of Palaiokamares of Aegio. Annual production of 2,000 cases. Katsikosta is desperately, passionately practicing, experimenting, trying to stir up vinous ghosts and find their way back to ancestry, to ways of elders, to bring to light what used to be and to establish an identity for the world to see.

Acheon Sideritis 2014, PGI Achaia, Greece

The nearly extant one, a rare variety, being revived, planted at low altitudes, with yields 70-75 hL/L. Aromatic and misunderstood, with a Savagnin character, a funky, musky skin, like leather but not as deep, yet something oddly tropical, like jackfruit, or gummy bear, dusty ginger, and resin, like thyme. Another variety being worked with to see what it can be and to link back to what once was. Really good acidity. Drink 2015-2016.  Tasted July 2015

Kotrotsos

Vassiliko Achaias TK. 25008, 30 26940 61 900, vinko@otenet.gr. Winemaker is Giannis Kotrotsos.

Kotrotsos Mavrodaphne NV, PDO Mavrodaphne of Patras, Greece The standard 15 per cent alcohol and in this plugged in, short fuse sweet wine is highly intense and lit caper green, dried fruit and a serious pasticcio of botanicals, distilled into a major excitative and concentrated sweetness.  The second bottle tasted has so much more life and character. Much more sweet floral attractiveness and the sweetness is less pronounced as a result. Goes from spice and piquancy to sweetness with the right transitory methodology, culminating in a great LBV Port finish. Nutty and spicy. Tremendous fruit forward expression.  Drink 2016-2024.  Tasted July 2015

Karelas Winery

Georgios J. Karellas A.V.E.E, 41-43, Skagiopouliou Str., Patras, 262 22, 30 2610 321 000, karelas7@hotmail.com

Karelas Winery was founded in 1936 by Georgios Karelas. Using the native ‘Mavrodaphne’ grape, the company is renowned for it’s sweet, dessert style Mavrodaphne wine.
Mega Spileo Mavrodaphne and Karelas Mavrodaphe Reserve 2009

Mega Spileo Mavrodaphne and Karelas Mavrodaphe Reserve 2009

Karelas Mavrodaphne Reserve 2009, PDO Mavrodaphne of Patras, Greece

The only Mavrodaphne aged in highly seasoned toasted new French barrels. The standard weight bearing 15 per cent alcohol and a similar feeling as with previous kicks at the sweet Mavrodaphne can, but more red fruit and brighter raisins in the sun. The spice and liqueur here seem less spirited and combine for a more mature, seasoned, reasoned, direct and ultimately cleaner expression. Captain Jack (or George) will get you Achaia tonight “and take you to your special island.” Drink 2015-2022.  Tasted July 2015

Loukatos

Loukatos Bros, Β 3 & ΟΤ 24, Industrial Zone Patra 25018 Achaia / Patra, Greece, 30 2610 647588,  info@loukatos.com.gr

Perhaps most famous for their local production of spirits, namely Tentura and Mastic, Loukatos does a bang up job with dessert wines, especially in their handling of Muscat from Patras.

Loukatos Muscat of Patras and Mavrodaphne of Patras

Loukatos Muscat of Patras and Mavrodaphne of Patras

Loukatos Muscat NV, PDO Muscat of Patras (WineAlign)

A 15 per cent abv Vin de Liqueur largely based on the 2013 vintage. Very clementine and apricot nosed, impeccably balanced from viscous to intensity in grape, with nothing musty or musky about it, though there is a musk melon sense, a botrytis that is very clean. Another excellent, natural sweet Patras example of what Muscat can do, again at super low cost, with high flavour and here, more fruit forward than the Kotrotos. Drink 2015-2021.  Tasted July 2015

Old cask and young DJ Kearney at Achaia Clauss, Aigialia, Achaia

Old cask and young DJ Kearney at Achaia Clauss, Egialia, Achaia

Crisis? No one’s gonna bring Greece down, nor me neither, ’till I again reach Achaia ground.

Good to go!

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‘London Calling’ for Canadian wine

PHOTO: NASKO/FOTOLIA.COM

as seen on canada.com

Just in case you were under the impression that Canadian wine is made solely for and consumed only by Canadians, think again. The world is hungry for our prized grapes and unbeknownst to 99 per cent of the 35 million inhabitants of this vast country, the A-Team is out there in the field.

As I write this, Canada is re-introducing itself to the world by way of an essential and comprehensive tasting hosted today by The Canadian High Commission at Canada House, Trafalgar Square, London. A group of wine luminaries and emissaries are pouring sparkling wines, red wines produced from Pinot Noir, Bordeaux blends or varietals, Syrah or Gamay, white wines produced from Chardonnay or Riesling and Icewine. REDISCOVER Canadian Wine is an unprecedented event, working in conjunction with London’s Westbury Communications to remind and renew a European media and trade contingent of the quality and international viability of the wines from Ontario, British Columbia and Nova Scotia.

Canada House, London (Photos: Janet Dorozynski)

The dream team is led by Dr. Janet Dorozynski, Global Practice Lead, Canadian Wine, Beer and Spirits, Global Business Opportunities Bureau, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. Dr. Dorozynski’s deputies along to help promote the Canadian wines in London are the Wine Council of Ontario’s Magdalena Kaiser-Smit, Director of PR and Linda Watts, Project Manager, Canadian wine expert ambassador Tony Aspler and Barb Tatarnic of Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology & Viticulture Institute.

Winemakers, owners, vignerons, wine consultants, international sales directors, export directors and marketing consultants have made the trek after wineries from across Canada were invited to submit their wines in a blind tasting judged by a panel of Canadian judges. The panel previewed over 250 Canadian wines and selected 89 wines from 37 wineries to qualify for the London, England tasting.

With help in partnership with Foreign Affair and International Trade Canada, Wine Country Ontario, support from The Cool Climate Oenology & Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) at Brock University and from The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, the Canada House event is fully and completely positioned to raise the profile of the Canadian wine industry abroad.

London Calling: REDISCOVER Canadian wine

British wine scribe Stephen Brook notes, “Canada has long been out of the ‘promising newcomer’ category. These are wines we all need to discover.” Gerard Basset OBE MW MS adds, “I have discovered some superb wineries and producers with both flair and talent.”

For more information on the event click here.

In celebration of the calling to London, here are tasting notes on eight wines being poured today in London.

Flat Rock Cellars Gravity Pinot Noir 2010 ($30, 1560winery) from A wine pentathlon reels in Twenty Mile Bench fruit in a warm vintage as well if not better than any of its peers. Founder Ed Madronich is clearly slope and soil obsessed and this Pinot Noir is a study in topography and geology. To paraphrase Madronich, it’s  ”more Pommard than Volnay, in a deeper and more masculine way than the Estate bottling.” Pinot barrels most representative of the Gravity style were chosen for the final blend, in this case noted by woodsy black cherry and spiced root vegetable. “Get a little savagery in your life.” 90   @Winemakersboots  @UnfilteredEd

Cave Spring Cellars Riesling ‘CSV’ Estate Bottled 2009 ($29.95, winery only) from Come together, over wine comes from the oldest, lowest-yielding vines at the estate grown on the limestone, Beamsville Bench terrace. A three month rest on its lees imparts honey on the nose though the palate is dryer than off-dry. Mineral, pop-driven even. A hoovering, wizened Riesling, puckering, turning inward, yet to hydrate. Unique for Escarpment ’09 and will realize a quenching later than most. I for one will put this aside and revisit at the end of the decade, when “golden slumbers fill your eyes.” 89  @CaveSpring

Charles Baker Riesling ‘Picone’ 2011 ($35, winery only) from Come together, over wine trembles with nervous energy and will need some bottle time to shed its shocking, A16 soda popping feeling. Right now “he got joo joo eyeballs.” Give it a year, or even two for the Vinemount Ridge clint (citrus and flint) to come together in a fit of focused, piercing acidity. This is Baker’s sharpest, knife-edge Riesling in the block and while I never thought it possible, this one is sure to outshine 2009. For Charles Baker ”one and one and one is three.”  93  @cbriesling

Exultet Chardonnay ‘The Blessed’ 2011 ($35, winery only) from You can lead a county to the city is exemplary even if it may not be proprietor Gerard Spinosa’s favourite vintage. Commands an ineffable presence in gold sheen and parses meaning through balance and poise. The new oak is very noticeable but the ’11 acidity is grand. Their integration is seamless, the wine shines and a few years time will only increase its lustre.  92  @ExultetEstates

Pillitteri Estates Cabernet Franc Reserve ‘Exclamation’ 2010 (Alex Kolundzic, $35, winery only) from Top juice flows at Cuvée 25th anniversary from family vineyards in Niagara-on-the-Lake ventures into voluptuous, black forest, fruitcake territory. A 24-month soak in French oak imparts espresso and leather and it’s as if this CF was raised in Napa or designated IGT. But this is NOTL were talking here. Improbable and believable. Tasted twice.  91  @Pillitteriwines

Hidden Bench Estate Pinot Noir 2010 ($38, winery only) from A wine pentathlon takes my previous impressions to a higher plane. Standing correct by calling it a “a vintage relative release” but it’s so much more than “a quaffable, generous fruit sui generis.” Beets turn into plums. Opaque hue reminds of graceful Nebbiolo with a dancer’s legs in aperture. Wins in judicious use of French wood. Tannins persist in the rear-view mirror. Big ’10 that speaks of another level in Beamsville Pinot Noir. “Think about it, there must be higher love.” 91  @HiddenBench  @BenchVigneron

Château Des Charmes Equuleus 2010 (Paul Bosc, $40, ONT, winery only, SAQ,  11156334, $41.25) from Top juice flows at Cuvée 25th anniversary from the Paul Bosc Estate Vineyard is a classically styled blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc and 25% Merlot, only made in exceptional years. Apropos choice from 25-year old vines (in 2010) from the warmer St. David’s Bench for Cuvée’s 25th show.  Poised, balanced and regal yet this mare is temporarily a head-shy, sensitive equine red. Will trot out furlongs of tobacco and meaty aromas from now and through maturity in five plus years. A saddle of round, red fruit will age gracefully.  92  @MBosc

Stratus Syrah 2010 ($48) from Stratus and Momofuku: Modernity incarnate is picked early as compared to other well-known varieties like the Cabernets and this vintage saw a 25% yield decrease/concentration increase. Pretty, focused and indicative of candied flowers in replay with a note of citrus blossom. A Syrah that clearly speaks of Groux’s infatuation with aromatics. “What I do know, my Syrah is improving overall.”  90  @twineswines  @Stratuswines

Good to go!

A wine pentathlon

Casa Loma in Toronto PHOTO: ALISONHANCOCK/FOTOLIA.COM

as seen on canada.com

Wake up and smell the grapes. Put those lame excuses on the shelf and get over yourself. Time to cease and desist the dissing and dismissing of Ontario wine. I used to be like you but now I participate any chance I get, by invitation or by uncorking at dinner, to sample, savour and immerse myself in Canadian and more specifically, Ontario wine.

“5-Star” at Casa Loma (Photos: Michael Godel)

I was there when thirty wineries from The Niagara Peninsula, Prince Edward County and Lake Erie North Shore regions were assembled on Wednesday, April 10th, 2013 in Toronto’s Casa Loma by The Ontario Wine Society. No fewer than 127 wines (plus a few under the table ringers here and there) were poured at the “5-star” event that focused on the signature, cool-climate varieties produced in Ontario. Sparkling wines shared company with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling and Cabernet Franc. I loved the pentalpha conceptualization, realized by a narrowing of the field to a focus of five. Working endurance wine tastings tugs on the olfactory and taste bud strings, demanding maximum mettle, so this was a welcome format.

The Ontario Wine Society is a necessary and viable provincial institution. The not-for-profit society was formed in 1991 and continues its mandate to discover, appreciate and support local wines. The industry knows to thank and give back to the OWS and other organizations who likewise set out complimentary mandates to champion local greatness. Like the VQA leader with respect to growth and sustainability Wine Council of Ontario (WCO) and the oenological education leader Cool Climate, Viticulture and Oenology Institute (CCOVI) at Brock University, the OWS is all about championing greatness stemming from our vineyards.

Shout out goes to OWS President Ken Burford and Vice-President Sadie Darby for orchestrating the oeno-pentathlon. The feat was neither small, nor insignificant. The local tastings ramp up in a big way in April and May with events like County in the City,  County CharacterCounty Terroir, The Niagara Food and Wine Expo and culminating in June with the inaugural National Wine Awards of Canada (formerly the Canadian Wine Awards) presented by Wine Align.

From left: Flat Rock Cellars 2008, Southbrook Vineyards Triomphe Chardonnay 2011, Stanners Pinot Noir 2010, Vineland Estates Elevation Riesling 2008, and Tawse Cabernet Franc Van Bers Vineyard 2009

Many of the wines presented had been previously reviewed so with such a big line-up to get through I did not always re-taste, including the following:

Rosewood Estates Natalie’s Süssreserve Riesling 2010 (258806, $14.95) 88

Flat Rock Cellars 2008 Riddled ($24.95) 87

Green Lane Old Vines Riesling 2010 (283432, $29.95) 91

Bachelder Saunders Vineyard Chardonnay 2010 (324103, $44.95) 91

Coyote’s Run Estate Winery Rare Vintage Pinot Noir 2010 ($44.95) 91

Here are eight highlights from the OWS Casa Loma tasting, to the tune of Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir.

Southbrook Vineyards Triomphe Chardonnay 2011 ($21.95, 172338) binds FSO2 with jack or durian, febrile fruit. For now hard to figure, like a grey rose or a Pink Floyd. Offers up a creamy warmth in resonant echoes but amplified as if still trapped inside the barrel. The best days remain ahead for this certified and biodynamic Chardonnay, which in two to three years time will “come streaming in on sunlight wings.” 89  @SouthbrookWine

Tawse Riesling Quarry Road Vineyard 2012 ($23.95, winery only) picks up where the piercing ’11 left off and should be enjoyed in near time while that prototypical QRV fleshes out. This vintage is all about the here and now, citrus bright, immediately inviting, a slice of limstone pie with clay icing. While some age on Riesling is certainly and always welcome, this one begs to be looked at in the present. 90 @Tawse_Winery  @DanielatTawse

Lighthall Vineyard Chardonnay 2010 ($25, winery only) has that crazed look in its eye, as does vintner Glenn Symons when he talks about it, knowing full well this Prince Edward County juice is a bursting and rising, rocket launching supernova. Steely like Chablis, sharp and shimmering in defiance to the heat of the vintage, the LVC is a dartle to the collective consciousness of the County. Startling revelation. It’s all about the rocks. 91  @lighthallvyard

Lighthall Vineyard wines

Stanners Pinot Noir 2010 ($30, winery only) combines 60% (horizontal) County fruit with 40 per cent (vertical) Niagara (Lincoln Lakeshore) grapes in balance and with finesse. Simply apply the distance formula to figure out the length of the hypotenuse. Bridging the kilometres that lie between, though inadmissible to some, comes by way of a deft winemaker’s vision and touch. Plum good, mineral rich and perceptibly tannic without breaching a threshold of varnish. Cherry toffee speaks of the sunshine and indicates time is of the essence. Will look forward to full-on County issue for 2013 in the hands of Cliff and Colin Stanners. 89  @StannersWines

Vineland Estates Elevation Riesling 2008 ($30, winery only) poured as a youthful and “hello” pleasant surprise though it’s just beginning to display secondary character. Has shed its CO2 ferment skin without compromising the inherent citrus zest. Nectar lit by just emerging perky propellant and the ubiquitous, underlying of St. Urban’s stones all combine forces to a life of amarita. All this to make believe 2028 will be just another year in its evolution. 92  @VinelandEstates  @benchwineguy

Flat Rock Cellars Gravity Pinot Noir 2010 ($30, 1560winery) reels in Twenty Mile Bench fruit in a warm vintage as well if not better than any of its peers. Founder Ed Madronich is clearly slope and soil obsessed and this Pinot Noir is a study in topography and geology. To paraphrase Madronich, it’s  “more Pommard than Volnay, in a deeper and more masculine way than the Estate bottling.” Pinot barrels most representative of the Gravity style were chosen for the final blend, in this case noted by woodsy black cherry and spiced root vegetable. “Get a little savagery in your life.” 90   @Winemakersboots  @UnfilteredEd

Hidden Bench Estate Pinot Noir 2010 ($38, winery only) takes my previous impressions to a higher plane. Standing correct by calling it a “a vintage relative release” but it’s so much more than “a quaffable, generous fruit sui generis.” Beets turn into plums. Opaque hue reminds of graceful Nebbiolo with a dancer’s legs in aperture. Wins in judicious use of French wood. Tannins persist in the rear-view mirror. Big ’10 that speaks of another level in Beamsville Pinot Noir. “Think about it, there must be higher love.” 91  @HiddenBench  @BenchVigneron 

Tawse Cabernet Franc Van Bers Vineyard 2009 ($49.95, winery only) from the Creek Shores Appellation is proof that a well rounded grape has no point. The Van Bers is winemaker Paul Pender’s purlieu, edgy, outlying, unconcerned with the norm or the banal. Makes full use of a cool vintage with heart-stopping acidity and eye-popping verve but not without delivering Soul, in the form of flowers and a fruit basket to your doorstep. “It’s like thunder and lightning.” Capers, camphor and a knock on wood add R & B complexity. 91  @Paul_Pender

Good to go!