Summer has arrived and the flavors and requirements of food and drink change.
Summer produce flavors are very direct and intense. Wines need to be lighter
and direct also. In this newsletter you will find some new products, some
old, and definitely some which will enhance your summer. Darrell Corti
OUR SELECTION OF THE BEST GREEK WINES
If you are like most of us, in the middle of August you will be glued to the television for the replays of the Olympic Games, held this year in Athens, Greece. In order to heighten the Greece experience to those of our customers staying home to see the Olympics, you should enjoy some of the best wines Greece produces.
This is not the first time that Greek wine has appeared on these pages. Some of you will remember the delicious, structured 1994 Rapsani Epilegmenos which we offered in 2001, and the Arghyros Vinsanto 1983 in 2002.
Those of you who have not tasted those wines, might ask, fine wines from Greece? Don’t they all taste like resin? Yes, there are fine wines in Greece and no, they don’t taste like resin. In most instances, they are wines from varieties you’ve never heard of before. Over 300 unique, autochthonous grape varieties grow in Greece. They are different from any others grown in Europe. Due to improved, modern technology both in viticulture and enology, the resulting wines can stand with other high quality wines of Europe. The great difference between Greek varieties and those of the rest of Europe is that most knowledgeable consumers do not know anything about them. This should not, however, deter you from trying them. Remember, it was only 30years ago that Italian wines were little known and looked down upon by “knowledgeable consumers,” more familiar with French and German vintages.
Greek viticultural patrimony is ancient. Even considering the ravages of Phylloxera at the beginning of the 20th century and up to the 1960s, and the subsequent loss of varieties, there are still a great number to be found, in some instances, rescued from the brink of extinction. In other cases, some risk being overwhelmed by the influence of “international” varieties, much to the concern of traditional producers and me.
At one time, Greek wines were the most important in the world. All the varieties called “greco,”in Italy, probably got this name since they either came from Greece or resembled Greek wines. In Venice, more involved than any other European power in the Greek trade, “grecaioli,” Greek dealers, was the name given to high quality wine merchants selling prestigious wine from Venetian dominated parts of Greece. The different hegemonies in Greece and the islands of the eastern Mediterranean, left histories of wine production which flourished, then decayed, and are now rising again. With the potential in Greece, one could study these wines and constantly find old varieties and new wines. As interest in new varieties spreads world wide, Greek varieties might offer remarkable, new horizons for winemaking especially in semi arid and hot countries like California or Australia. California is climatically more like Greece than say, Bordeaux, Burgundy or even the Rhone valley.
Now, here is your chance to enjoy the Olympics and learn about Greek wines at the same time. I think you will be more than pleasantly surprised. You might even become a fan.For those of you who “pledged Greek” in college, here is your opportunity to remember Greek characters on some labels. Most labels however, are written with Latin characters and in English, so there should be no problem with language. But when you see the character Γ, Σ,Φ,Ρ, or Λ, just remember your fraternity (or sorority) days.
Greek White Wines:
Greek Wines from the Cyclades and Dodecanese Islands
Islands dotting the sea, off Greece’s eastern coast.
Sigalas Santorini Assyrtiko 2003 Greek Wine 750ml
Assyrtiko is the major white variety on Santorini. It has wonderful minerally flavors, high acidity, making both dry and sweet wines. Possibly Greece’s best white variety, it should be looked at for viticultural areas other than Greece. Sold out. Samos Odyssey 2003 Greek Wine 750ml
Pale, lowish in alcohol and dry, this is the basic wine made on the island of Samos where muscat rules. Delicious. Sold out.
Greek White Wines from the Ionian Islands
Robola is not ribolla, but another variety producing a pale colored, scented, snappy white. Sold out.
Greek White Wines from the Peloponnese
Moschofilero is a colored variety that makes both rosé and white wines. Spicy and floral, Mantinia is its best area. Sold out. Oenoforos Asprolithi (White Stone) 2003 750ml
Pressed from roditis grapes, this is a rich, flavory, full white from Greece’s western coast at Patras. Sold out.
Greek Red Wines
Made from refosco (terrano) and mavrodaphne, the most silky in style of Greece’s red wines. Delicious. Sold out.
Tselepos Nemea 2001 750ml
Varietal cherry fruit of this most important red with a soft background. Delicious slightly chilled. Sold out.
Skouras Grande Cuvee 2001 Nemea 750ml
Long, cherry fruited flavor, more intense than the above wine. Balanced and deserving of cellaring. Sold out.
Greek Wines from Macedonia
Produced from xinomavro, another important red variety, by Yannis Boutaris in the Naoussa region.
To facilitate your acquaintance of these wines, Corti Brothers will offer a mixed case, 12 bottles, including what is the best retsina made in Greece, the Gaia Estate Ritinitis, which is produced from roditis grapes and a carefully calculated quantity of resin from the Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis). They are fermented together, rather than blended after fermentation. This is what retsina should taste like but rarely does. Sold out.
Gaia Estate Ritinitis 750 ml Sold out.
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