UK Sommelier of the Year 2016: Terry Kandylis

Last night at Mandarin Oriental, Terry Kandylis, head Sommelier at 67 Pall Mall and Best Greek Sommelier 2015, made a magnificent achievement: he was the winner of the Moët UK Sommelier of the year 2016 competition!

This is a very challenging competition including a Service, a Questions and finally a Blind Tasting exam!

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Terry Kandylis serving Cristal 2007 at 67 Pall Mall

Congratulations on your victory, Terry, so well deserved!

A Taste of Greece – a fabulous Greek wine tasting in London

It is difficult to withhold my excitement when a Greek Wine tasting takes place in London. In the city, where all the wine countries compete head to head for premium representation and distribution.

So when Terry Kandylis, Head Sommelier at 67 Pall Mall, informed me that the Greek Embassy was involved in the organisation of a wine tasting called “A Taste of Greece” at Vintners’ Hall, the home of the wine professionals, I simply couldn’t miss it. On the 20th of April it opened widely its doors  to the wine trade and press and the room was filled with indigenous Greek varieties, fresh and dynamic wines and equally importantly with the people who single-handedly created the Greek wine market in the UK and those who assist developing and expanding the Greek wine selection in the capital.

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The tasting was in full swing until late

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The Hallgarten & Novum Wines stand is always busy!

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The one and only Mary Pateras from Eclectic WinesAssyrtiko de Louros was a revelation!

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Pure Nectar from Samos

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Winemaker Stamatis Mylonas  from Mylonas Wines imported by Maltby & Greek

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Winemaker Panagiois Papayiannopoulos from Tetramythos Wines

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Lovely range and the Retsina is really good, ideal for the warmer months!

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Domaine Karanika, one of the leading sparkling wine estates!

Sigalas wines in London

Domaine Sigalas, a benchmark for Santorini wine

Alpha Estate in London

Alpha Estate is placing Greece in the fine wine world

Daniel from Theatre of Wine

Daniel Illsley, founder of Theatre of Wine

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Domaine Oikonomou from Sitia, Crete- treat yourself to a wine experience

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Steve Daniel, THE man who started the Greek wine market in the UK!!

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New discovery from Hallgarten & Novum: Idaia Winery

It’s been a fantastic afternoon for me!

If you fancy getting your hands on one of these amazing wines, check out my Greek Wine in the UK page, wine-searcher.com or simply ask me in the comments section below.

Happy exploring, geia mas!!

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Petite Fleur – a delicate Sideritis rosé by Parparousis 

I am always intrigued to try wines from grape varieties I haven’t heard of before.

When I visited Bientôt, a wine shop and creative space in my home city Thessaloniki, the ever knowledgeable  Maria Samou, suggested Petite Fleur to me. At first glance, the bottle looks very pretty and the colour is an elegant, salmon pink – very Provençe-like.

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Petite Fleure: elegant and fresh like a spring blossom

But what really caught my attention was the fact that Athanasios Parparousis, who founded the wine back in 1974, and his 2 daughters, Erifili and Dimitra , are making organic wines from indigenous Greek varieties and that they chose Sideritis for Petite Fleur, a pink-skinned  grape not often used for rosé winemaking. Total production is very small, just 3.000 bottles.

The 25 year old vines are located in Achaia, Peloponnese, where they enjoy a mild Mediterranean climate and grow in sandy gravel soils.

Sideritis gives very elegant wines with a characteristic freshness and mineral after-taste.

A harmonious blend of delicate white blossoms, red berries, strawberries, basically a straw basket filled with forest fruits (!)  and Mediterranean herbs, like thyme and rosemary,  are dominating the nose. On the palate, the distinctive minerality makes it complex and very appetising with a gentle sniff of white pepper spice!

So easy to pair with food and great value!

You can locate the wine via wine-searcher.com

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Amalia Brut by Tselepos Wines

Fancy an aromatic bubbly this summer?

Would you rather try an indigenous variety and taste a different kind of wine from the Peloponnese, a land full of ancient myths and beautiful landscapes?

I first tried Amalia Brut by Tselepos Wines this past Christmas and has become a dinner-table favourite since then.

This delicious sparkler is made of Moschofilero grapes, a distinctively aromatic variety closely associated with the wine region of the Peloponnese and especially Mantinia. Yannis Tselepos decided to create this sparkling wine by  Méthode Traditionnelle from grapes coming from their family owned vineyard in Perpatiara (Tegea, Arcadia, Greece). It is important that the fruit going for the production of the base wine is picked earlier so that it contains lower sugar levels and consequently forms lower alcohol and gives a refreshing mouthfeel.

Elegantly perfumed with notes of apricot, peach and waxed lemons with mouthwatering freshness! The floral signature of Moschofilero with its delicate jasmine, rose notes and its fine, persistent bubbles make it a delicious fizz!

Amalia on our Easter Table

You can find it through wine-searcher.com  HERE

Enjoy the bubbles!

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The wine-tasting rabbit mug by HAM!

Are you a winelover in the hunt for a new coffee/tea mug? Look no further for this is one of the best wine tasting related mugs I have ever seen!

If you are like me and learned how to do your make-up from YouTube tutorials (I am still a novice), you must have watched Estée Lalonde‘s videos. She doesn’t only talk make-up though and has, in my opinion, a great eye for design. So, when I saw a print behind her with a bunny bouncing on a trampoline, my eyes sparkled for a  moment and I tried to find the print on Google.

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Best mug ever!

And this is how I discovered HAM and my beloved wine tasting-rabbit mug. It was not easy to get my hands on it though, I had to wait 3 (!!!) or even more months for the mug to get back in stock, as they are quite a small team … I emailed Jo, HAM’s founder a couple of times, who very kindly gave me some possible dates but I was so impatient.

I have been using it every day since I got it and it brings a big smile to my face every single time I pour my coffee in it! HAM has a fantastic selection of mugs and prints of DJ, yoga, graffiti etc. rabbits and  I couldn’t recommend it enough!

In their own words: “HAMʼs minimal aesthetic seeks to add a serious edge to its playful subject matter.”

Fantastic store for presents and home decoration.

And they made a wine-tasting rabbit mug! Who else has thought of that?

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The night I tried Petrus 2004…

There are a few moments in a winelover’s journey that have been long anticipated.

Like this one.

Like the moment of tasting, let alone drinking this magnificent and legendary wine.

And I did.

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On the 27th January my colleagues and I celebrated the 30th Anniversary of Maisons Marques et Domaines. After a fabulous tasting of almost our entire portfolio with our customers and press, we invited our producers to join us at a truly fascinating celebratory dinner at Novikov in London. The restaurant is divided in 3 spaces; one of them is the beautiful Italian restaurant which has a traditional feel of Italian elegance and warmth.

The menu was incredible and we were properly spoiled as our producers generously offered their icon wines for the dinner. As you can see in the photo below, some tremendous wines were enjoyed!

The MMD 30th Anniversary Dinner

The fascinating wine line-up

Petrus 2004 decanted

Petrus 2004 in the decanter

30th MMD Anniversary Dinner at Novikov

Petrus 2004 was served with a Risotto with pigeon and winter black truffle.

I kept swirling the glass under my nose.  An abundance of dried herbs and truffles filled the glass.

This powerful yet silky Merlot from the famous Pomerol plateau has a deep ruby colour and a mesmerising nose full of sweet, juicy cherries harmoniously blended with earthy notes and aromas of dark chocolate and vanilla seeds. The mouthfeel is tannic and structured with precision. A plethora of aromas is developed in the mouth with these of cherries, truffle and chocolate being most prominent with a promise of an astonishing wine getting developed in the bottle and it will be even more exhilarating in the next decade.

A truly memorable evening with a range of iconic wines which have been shaping and keep developing the world of fine wine.

I feel very lucky and blessed!

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Vinothec Compass, a Greenwich surprise 

Just after I started my new job as Brand Manager, I received an email by Douglas Blyde,a gastro-consultant & wine presenter. My day was made! He asked if I would be into golf, wine and food… I mean who can say no to that?

Food, wine, gardening, design and advertising bloggers made their way to Greenwich on a sunny August evening to visit the brand new restaurant, Vinothec Compass, and try a tasting menu called Terroir and Turf. The new restaurant was developed by Arnaud Compass, a self-confessed wine athlete who is Head of EU development for Robert Parker and Keith Lyons, a wine consultant and former head of wine at Waitrose Canary Wharf.

We were warmly greeted with a glass of the lively and expressive 2004 Pol Roger Champagne an quickly started chatting to each other. No one was handing business cards around; we asked for usernames on Twitter and Instagram to stay in touch. (Will business cards soon become obsolete?)

Pol Roger 2004 in Vinothec Compass

Pol Roger 2004 bubbles for welcome!

This sign though:)

And then it was golf time! The last time I held a golf club was in 2000 and I was in a mini-golf court in Germany, so I certainly do not qualify as a golf pro. We were tutored by 2 friendly instructors and then we all gave it a go, so much fun! Lots of people filled the courts very soon bringing their friends and children along. The place was buzzing and I would certainly go back…look at this view!

Golfing and Champagne equals happy times

How can grilled artichoke be so yummy??

Grilled, crispy and delicious chorizo, mmmm

While the sun was setting, we were invited back to the restaurant and we gathered around the kitchen. Head Chef Jordi Rovira Segovia and Sous Chef Daniel Rodriguez Navas  greeted everyone with an aromatic baby squid , tomato and coriander tapas kind of dish. For most people, coriander is a very popular herb but not for me. I am one of those unlucky few, whose genes related to smell and taste, make the taste of coriander to be perceived as soap; it can literally ruin any meal. BUT not this time. I am not sure if it was the Champagne, the golf or the beautiful sunset but the perfectly cooked dish went down very well especially with a glass of a 2012 Bulgarian Chardonnay from Chateau Burgozone. It was delightfully fruity and refreshing with citrus and mineral notes.

An open kitchen is what I look for at a restaurant!

Baby squid and a gorgeous Chardonnay from Bulgaria

Next dish on the menu was a smoked trout salad perfectly matched with a Vin Gris (white wine made from red grapes) all the way from Morocco. The 2013 Volubilia blend of Mourvedre and Tempranillo was elegantly fruity with notes of strawberry, watermelon and red cherries and on the palate was appetizingly fresh and vibrant.

Mouthwatering smoked trout salad & a stunning Vin Gris from Morocco

It was great to see the response of the guests to the more “exotic” wine countries and how amazed they were with the quality of these wines; supremely surprised! Moving on the to the next dish, Keith poured out of the decanter the absolutely stunning Couvent des Jacobins 2005, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot to accompany our suckling pig, piquillo. A classic and traditional mouthwatering pairing. A fantastic vintage full of red fruit, licorice and coffee notes with elegant oak hints and lovely, creamy texture.

Keith Lyon pouring a stunning Saint Emilion Grand Cru

THE suckling pig symphony

Three dishes done and three more to go! The cod confit was next on our dinner table, a beautiful dish even to look at! This was paired deliciously with a Montsant blend of Macabeu, Grenache Blancand Cartoixà (the local name for Xarel.lo). Montsant has a special place in my heart, as I have had some incredible Grenache Blanc wines from this region in the last couple of years. The Dido 2013 has delicate notes of lemon, grapefruit and jasmine and a mouthwatering finish and complimented the cod superbly.

Cod confit with Romesco sauce

Although we were encouraged to try our next dish, a juicy Longhorn Onglet, with the previous Spanish white wine,  Keith surprised me when he cracked open the outstanding Hedgehog Vineyard Xinomavro 2010 from Alpha Estate, Amyndeon, Greece! One of my personal favorite wines, which made a great impression to Jancis Robinson, who made the following comments on it:
“I could see the hint of orange that Julia found on the nose but most impressive was its Nebbiolo-like transparency, light char (from the fruit character rather than oak), and the fact that it really builds on the finish into something impressively persistent. This is a very individual wine that shows Xinomavro’s distinction well. I’d drink it any time over the next five years or so and I’m sure it will continue to gain interest.”

My star of the evening, Greek Xinomavro by Alpha Estate

Longhorn Onglet paired heavenly with Xinomavro

Last but certainly not least was the Vinothec Cheesecake served in an espresso cup. I have to admit that one cup was not enough, so I made my way into a second one, oops! Arnaud poured the last night of the evening, the incredibly impressive Sainte Lucie Rivesaltes 1971! This delicious sweet wine is a blend of Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Maccabeu and Tourbat. What a fantastic treat! On the nose, it is delightfully aromatic with notes of almonds, walnuts and candied fruit. On the palate there is some interesting salinity with notes of coffee and cacao.

The Vinothec Chessecake with an older than me Riversaltes  Arnaud Compas in action!

This was an unforgettable dinner and I got to meet many interesting bloggers and had the chance to put my golf skills into the test😉 I am definitely going back and can’t wait to see how their wine list develops as Arnaud and Keith have a greta vision and have put together a great wine selection!

Follow Vinothec Compass on:

Facebook: Vinothec Compass

Twitter: @VinothecCompass

Instagram: @VinothecCompass

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The Greek Larder launches the first official London Greek Wine Festival in London

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I think it was July when I first read on Twitter that Theodore Kyriakou, founder of the Real Greek and The Greek Larder is launching the first London Greek Wine Festival. This was the event that I simply couldn’t miss in participating in any way. I got in touch immediately and in August I had a long chat with Theodore who explained the concept and the schedule of the event. It will take place in the elegant Battlebridge Room at King’s Place overlooking Regents Canal basin. When Theodore showed me the room, I understood why he was so excited with the specific location – tall windows around the room allow lots of natural light brightening up the space and the canal view is gorgeous.

There are going to be 130 Greek wines for the visitors to taste and lots of the producers are going to attend the festival. It will be an unmissable experience for all winelovers and for all the wine drinkers who would like to develop their palate and learn more about the wines of one the most ancient wine countries in the world!

Jancis Robinson MW and Julia Harding are the Ambassadors of the Festival and the news just fill me with extreme joy and anticipation!

Jancis is a huge lover and supporter of Greek wines and as she says, “…is thrilled to be lucky enough to be able to bring that love and understanding to life for visitors. Whether you’re a novice or a pro, you’ll learn a huge amount through this showcase of the very best wines from one of the world’s most distinctive wine-producing countries.

The Greek Larder will also run a Meze Bar throughout the weekend, serving up exquisite small Greek plates plus cheese, charcuterie, select wines by the glass as well as some fabulous Retsina cocktails. The fair will run between 11am -5pm on the Saturday 3rd October and between 11am-4pm on the Sunday 4th October.

Fri 2nd Oct: Festival launch night ‘Cyclades’ menu & live music, 7.30pm-11pm

Sat 3rd Oct: Wine Lovers’ Brunch & ‘Froutalia’ menu, 11am-1pm

Sat 3rd Oct: Sardines, Mackerel & Retsina pairings, 1.30 pm – 3.30 pm

Sat 3rd Oct: Afternoon sweets & desert wine pairings 4pm-6pm

Sat 3rd Oct: Celebratory Festival supper & live music 7.30pm-11pm

Please find below the detailed schedule of the 2-day festival of Greek Wine in London:

Sat 3 Oct: Regional Tasting by Julia Harding 12noon-1.15pm

Sat 3 Oct: Athens to Vergina wine roads 2.30pm-3.45pm

Sat 3 Oct: Cheese, Charcuterie & Olives 3pm-4.30pm

Sat 3 Oct: Retsina in Cocktails 4pm-5pm

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Sun 4 Oct: Variety Tasting by Julia Harding 12noon-1.15pm

Sun 4 Oct: Moschofilero & The Greek Larder meze 1.30pm-3.00pm

Sun 4 Oct: Cyclades to Crete wine island hopping 2.30pm-3.45pm

Battlebridge Room at Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9AG – Wristband* Entry. Limited capacity for Talks & Fair so I would recommend booking online and in advance HERE

Knight Frank are kindly supporting the London Greek Wine Festival, and will also be offering complimentary tastings of select wines being exhibited at our producer’s Wine Fair. Saturday only 10am-4pm. Unit 9, Handyside Street & Gardens, London N1C 4AY. Tel 020 3764 8910

Pop-Up Wine Bar! Wimbledon Wines will be offering their Greek organic favourites by the glass, from their gorgeous vintage Citroen van parked in the newly landscaped open spaces just outside The Greek Larder. Sat & Sun 12noon-5pm. King’s Cross, Wharf Road, London N1C 4AS

Rotunda are the venue partners and will be open daily for small plates matched to our Greek wines, plus a ‘Farm Meats’ supper menu specially created for the Festival (booking advised). Its restaurant,bar & terrace is located within the Kings Place complex. 90 York Way, London N1 9AG. Tel 020 7014 2840 http://www.rotundabarandrestaurant.co.uk

I am overly excited about next weekend and I literally cannot wait to meet you all and try some exquisite Greek wines with you! If you are joining us, please do use the hashtag #LondonGreekWineFestival when twitting or instagraming!

Follow the Greek Larder on:

Twitter: @thegreeklarder

or visit their website for more exciting news!