Those in the know’s New Year’s resolution is “To drink more “Nectar” and enjoy more Chesnut blondes.
And resolve, in 2021, to know their “ass-ear-leeko” (Assyrtiko) from their “ash-ee-or-shee leeko” (Agiorgitiko) and their Cazee-no-mav-roe (Xinomavro). In other words, drink more Greek wine.
As well as reds like Mavrotragano and Thracian Limnio, Nemea’s lemony/peachy Moschofilero, the so-called Peloponnese “Chameleon white,” Crete’s laurel-flavored Dafni and Vidiano, Santori’s Vinsanto, made with three grape varieties- Assyrtiko, Aidani, and Athiri, Greece also offers the Muscats of Samos (Vin Doux and the Chesnut blonde colored Anthemis – Greek for bouquet) and the island’s ancient “Nectar” made from overripe, sun-dried grapes and aged for 6 years in oak barrels.
There is also the rounded, Viognier-like Malagousia from northern Greece rescued by Vangelis Gerovassiliou.
In the foothills of Mr. Pangeon, in Kokkinochori in north Greece, is Vangelis and Vassilis Tsaktsarlis’s award-winning Ktima Biblia Chora winery and vineyards.
Archaeological finds at Philippi Valley and “Dikil Tas” date wine-making in Greece dates back to 4300BC. The Phoenicians introduced the “Biblia” grape making “Bilinos Oenos” ( wine in ancient Greek in the land of Biblia – “Biblia Chora.” Alexander The Great funded his campaigns with gold from the region.
The estate was planted in 1998. Vangelis studied Agronomy at the Aristotle University and the University of Bordeaux and became senior winemaker at Domaine Porto. He also owns Ktima Gerovassiliou in Epanomi and is a founding member and former president of the Association of Winemakers of North. Vassali followed the same oenological route before becoming head of the production at Domaine Costa Lazaridi. He also owns ‘Ktima Dyo Ipsi.’In 2017, they collaborated with Ioanna Vamvakoudi to create Mikra Thira, the first winery in Therasia, a small island once a part of Santorini until the eruption of 1600BC. Recently, the small family winery of Titos Eftichidis in Goumenissa has also been purchased.
Their award-winning eight-year-old white Ovilops ( a Semillon variety and Assyrtiko blend) with Sole Vidiano provide an excellent introduction and benchmark to the best Greek wines and hospitality. On the outskirts of Thessaloniki in the rolling hills of Epanomi, Vangelis’ estate is one of the most beautiful in Greece. Its museum houses one of the world’s largest collections of corkscrews ( over 5000). His 100% Malagousia has a powerful citrusy nose and is an elegant white.
The grapes used for creating the Xinomavro wine grow in the northwestern Greece region of Naoussa. Xinomavro means acid or sour black in Greece, and the Macedonian grapes have a blackish-red color. Savatiano, the Saturday grape, is the main white variety from the Attica. Simultaneously, Mavrodaphne is grown mainly in the Peloponnese and Kephalonia and is normally blended with the Black Corinth currant grape to produce a late harvest dessert wine.
Apostolos Thymiopoulos produces ten 10 different expressions of xinomavro as well as his Jeunes Vignes. Angelo Latrides makes “Hedgehog.” Paris Sigales is another well-respected winemaker. Ktimia Tselepos makes the very “Gris de Nuit” Moschofilero. Grown exclusively in the mountainous area of Alagni near Heraklion in the island of Crete, “Dafni,” an ancient late-ripening grape variety brought back from extinction in the 1980s by the vine grower “Lyrarakis.”
Damara, Domaine Zareirakis, Kontozisis Vineyards, Gaia, the Alpha Estate in Amyndeon, and Yiannis Valbous’s “Vassaltis” on Santorini all make tremendous wines. The infamous heavily pine-resinated Retsina is still made. Still, expressions like Stelios Kechris’s “Tears of the Pine,” “Botanic Brut,” by the Nikolou Winery in Koropi, made in the champagne style with wildflowers, and that of Aoton Winery in Attika are breathing new life into wines with which Greece was for too long exclusively synonymous.
Look out also for the organic Fysis 2016 (‘fysis’ means ‘nature’ in Greek) by the Athanasiou winery and T -OINOS, the first wines in 3000 years to be produced from Tinos, a World Heritage-listed island of the Cyclades.
Don’t just stick to the “Nectar,” the fabled drink of eternal life; try Greece’s other wines. You’ll be dancing the syrtaki in no time.