Eight summer wines from the Greek Islands (unconventional edition)

IMG_4661

IMG_4711[1]

Setting the scene:

Friday night. East London. Greek wine tasting.

I have been following Maria from Southern Wine Roads  on Twitter  for quite some time now and one day, while I was scrolling down my feed, I saw her tweet about organising an evening of Greek wine from the Greek Islands. I could not miss it!

IMG_4665

Novita 2015, Grampsas Winery, Zante

Grape: 100% Goustolidi

The name of the grape is particularly interesting as it stems from the phrase “tou Avgoustou to stolidi”, meaning August’s ornament, as it used to reach full maturity during the last month of the summer. I love linguistic secrets like that!

Maria mentioned that Novita could be the alternative to Retsina, for those not appreciative of the strong pine aroma and I can certainly see why she thought of that. The wine has quite a light lemon  colour with green highlights. On the nose it has an appetising bouquet of mineral aromas with distinctive mineral tones, rocks and steel. The mouthfeel is very fresh, sharp and quite linear with stoney/steely notes and a waxed lime character.

Food pairing: Maria suggested anchovies, sardines or generally salty small fish. This type of refreshing, lemony-character wine would work excellently with many fish or seafood option. *salivating*

We had 8 incredible wines, so let’s get into the tasting right away. 
IMG_4662

Gold 2014 by Melissinos Winery, Kefalonia

Grapes:  Zakynthino and Vostylidi

You have most probably not heard of these grapes before, I sure hadn’t. Both grapes are quite rare with Zakynthino originating (quite evidently) from the neighboring island of Zakynthos, or Zante, and Vostylidi’s history being linked with the viticultural tradition of the island.

The fruit is grown on old, non-irrigated vines, which are organically treated and their blend is what gives this wine its interesting name, Gold. A deep yellow with some green highlights, very clear and welcoming. The glass is bursting with apricot, ripe peach and stone fruit pie aromas with elegant hints of mountain tea, leaves and lemon peel.

The wine is made with either co-fermentation (vinifying the different varieties together) or with blending them later, after the alcoholic fermentation of the must is complete.

Food pairing: We tried Gold with sweet garlic which was sensational! Maria’s suggestion was to try it with a white mushroom stew, which I can’t wait to make. The producer would pair with traditional Cephalonian cuisine; cod-fish pie or a clay pot cooked lamb. Yummy!

Follow them on twitter: Melissinos Winery

IMG_4666

Chidiriotiko 2014 orange wine,  Methymnaeos , Lesvos

Grape: 100% Chidiriotiko

Could this be the first orange wine made in Greece? Made exclusively from the local grape Chidiriotiko, grown in the volcanic soils of Lesvos, this amazingly surprising wine was my favourite of the evening! It has a certain wow-factor because it seamlessly combines a juicy, citrucy character of mandarin and bergamot with distinctive minerality, an expression of which I haven’t tried before!

Chidiriotiko is a red grape grown in a very uncommon land. The vineyard soil is made of lava, the same on that formed the Petrified Forest of Lesvos. The particularity is that it contains up to 7% sulfur, copper sulphate and other sulphur compounds, offering a natural protection against diseases, not just for the vine but the wine itself. Hence, the Lambrou family are able to make a true organic wine.

Usually, orange winemaking is very similar to red winemaking with just less contact time of the grape skins and the must, so that the extraction of the colour is less, too. Yannis Lambrou however does not rely on skin contact to give its orange wine this magnificent colour. The actual must is tinted from the sulphur compounds of the soil – such is their concentration! The juice is fermented in non temperature-controlled vats in order to deliver the orange colour and the richer body of the wine.

This is an absolute favourite of mine, I loved the citrusy bouquet with its lovely walnut, pistachio notes on the palate and a really long, mouthwatering finish!

Food pairing: This would be an excellent wine for roasted salmon or duck dishes or a sushi platter, as recommended by the producer. I think that it carries the weight and the acidity to easily accompany seafood and meat greatly.

IMG_4664

Katsano 2015, Gavalas Winery, Santorini

Grapes: 85% Katsano and 15% Gaidouria

I was surprised to see bubbles in my glass, especially when the wine was bottles 1,5 year ago. Gavalas Katsano was incredibly fresh and mouthwatering and the bubbles just underlined the fabulous acidity of the grapes coming from the volcanic soils of Santorini. The nose was beautifully aromatic with herbal, fresh cut grass notes and an overall tropical profile reminiscent of a tropical fruit bowl, especially green mango! Lemon blossom and tropical fruits dominate the palate leaving a really long, refreshing and aromatic finish. Superb!

*Memory time* (The lemon blossom triggered one of my loveliest memories: every summer of my childhood, I would go to my dad’s hometown where we had a massive (or at least it seemed massive to me back then) lemon tree. I would collect the lemon blossom and fragrant leaves and immerse them in fire water and there was my perfume for the summer! I would make all my relatives and my parents’ friends visiting try it on…)

Both Katsano and Gaidouria are rare grapes and are not cultivated outside Santorini. George Gavalas was determined to preserve them and they now account for almost 1% of the Santorini vineyards. Hence, the production is tiny, get your hands on it while there’s still some around!

Food pairing: Katsano was paired with a stuffed olive which worked very well and you could easily pair it oysters, shrimps, grilled calamari or any type of seafood really! Dare to accompany it with light white meat dishes, too, and you’ll be very positively surprised.

IMG_4667

Sun Rosé, Grampsas Winery, Zante

Grape: 100% Avgoustiatis

The only rosé we had on the evening was this one by the Grampsas brothers. Made from the lesser known grape Avgoustiatis, this is a refresing, elegant rose with interesting mineral, rocky notes. I find it very interesting that both grapes we tried from Zante, Gustolidi and Avgoustiatis, have names related to the month of August.

Sun Rosé is a delicate yet lively and expressive wine with powerful strawberry, cranberry and red berry fruit with a certain minerality and touch of ginger spiciness.

Food pairing: This would be delightful with a tomato and anchovies spaghetti or with a smoked salmon or tuna salad with pickled cucumber and beetroot. I would also have it with a red fruit based dessert or even with  ice cream!

IMG_4668

Mavrotragano 2014, Gavalas Winery, Santorini

Grape: 100%Mavrotragano

Mavrotagano was almost extinct before the the local vinegrowers of Santorini came to action for its rescue.  Its berries are small, with thick skin of deep, almost black colour (Mavro=black, tragano=crunchy).  Although, it was mostly used for the making of sweet wines, this Mavrotragano by Gavalas is a dry, red wine made from ungrafted vines. Santorini’s sandy, volcanic soils protected the plants and Phylloxera never really threatened them.

It’s delicious. Having spent 12 months in French and American oak barrels, it has a developed a rather interesting deep crimson colour and a captivating bouquet of Maraschino cherries, blackberries and a hint of orange peel, blended with notes of roasted almonds and vanilla. Leave it in your glass for a while and you will be surprised by the development of more earthy, animal/leathery  notes forming, that make it a delicious wine to have with hearty dishes. Solid, structured tannins and an appetising mouthfeel.

This is a rare wine of tiny production

Food pairing: Goes amazingly well with hearty dishes, think roasted meats, wild boar, haggis and relatively mild cheeses.

IMG_4669
Avgoustiatis 2014, Grampsas Winery, Zante

Grape: Avgoustiatis

This natural sweet wine from the isalnd of Zakynthos is made from a very rare grape called Avgoustiatis. This an especially localised grape which might be seen, outside of Zante, just in some parts of  the Peloponnese.  It is mainly used for the production of dry red wines but Grampsas identified the potential of making a truly distinctive dessert wine with Avgoustiatis.

 

IMG_4670

Vinsanto 2008, Gavalas Winery, Santorini

Grapes: Assyrtiko, Athiri and Aidani.

The Nectar of Santorini, the holly wine.  I learn from the producer’s website that Vinsanto is actually “filling the chalices of the orthodox churches, used for the Holy Communion”. It was aged for a total of 5 years, 3 of which spent in french oak barrels.

The nose is absolutely meshmerizing filled with thyme and wild forest honey, dried stone fruit notes blended with dark chocolate, fudge and roasted coffee. This luscious, velvet wine glides around your tongue, hugging your mouth leaving it surprisingly fresh and bursting with such intense aromas of dried figs and apricots, almond paste and roasted walnuts.

The volcanic soils in combination with the strong winds and low rainfall result in tiny amounts of fruit production and limited number of bottles distributed. So, if you find this little gem, buy it; it’s a keeper!

Food pairing:  Foie gras, raw or glazed nuts, chocolate or coffee based desserts

Maria Moutsou from Southern Wine Roads was an excellent host and did a magnificent job pairing all the wines with delicious bites from around the globe, which made the evening even more entertaining!

Stay up to date with her Twitter updates to not miss the chance to join the next Wine Events, I would certainly recommend them!

Maria of Southern Wine Roads and I posing happily after the summer tasting

Maria of Southern Wine Roads and I posing happily after the summer tasting

Santorini Wine: Gavalas Natural Ferment Assyrtiko

Santorini Wines are unique and make my heart beat faster. Literally.

It’s the vines themselves – I am completely in love with these basket- shaped grapevines, trained in this spectacular way to protect the fruit from the powerful winds and the fierce heat, grown in the island’s volcanic soils!

ampelones_05-gavalaswines.gr

Basket shaped vine — Photo credit http://www.gavalaswines.gr

Gavalas Natural Ferment Assyrtiko

Gavalas Natural Ferment Assyrtiko perfectly paired with grilled octapus

Assyrtiko is the absolute star of Santorini and this natural ferment by Gavalas Winery is simply staggering.

The clarity of the grape is expressed in a uniquely crisp, lemony character with delicious pear notes and hints of jasmine.
The mouthfeel surprises you – the natural yeast fermentation brings an almost oily sensation with a distinct minerality! A hint of saltiness, too.

You close your eyes and you think you’re standing at the caldera, the wind is blowing through your hair. You might even smell the iodine from the deep blue sea. This is Greek summer in a glass!

🇬🇷🌊🐠👙

Follow Gavalas Winery on Instagram

Tsililis Dark Cave – an aged Tsipouro worth seeking out!

I am not a big fan of ouzo because I don’t enjoy anise – I find it overpowering.

Drinking Tsipouro however brings a sensational salty, iodine-like flavour to my lips but this is not part of its flavour profile. It derives from my memories; salty hair, sun-kissed cheeks and summery carelessness. My mum says that she likes drinking tsipouro only to indulge the first gulp of an ice cold beer in the summer. I can relate to that.

Tsipouro without anise is a very delicate spirit, made from distilled grape pomace  mainly in Thessaly, Epirus, Macedonia, Mani Peninsula, and the island of Crete (tsikoudia). It’s twice or multiple times distilled and only the best quality alcohol is used for the final distillate.Well, now it’s the time to open your horizon and welcome a new type of tsipouro to your brandy checklist – the aged Tsipouro.

IMG_3791

Aged in French & Amaerican oak barrels, seasoned with red and sweet Vinsanto

I tried  Dark Cave by Tsililis for the first time at Vogatsikou 3, Best Cocktail Bar in Greece as awarded by the FnL Awards,  and it was absolutely stunning! I was feeling particularly euphoric that evening, as we were celebrating my boyfriend’s birthday but I am sure that my glowing mood didn’t cloud my judgement.

Dark Cave has a rich nose full of ripe figs and glazed grapes with walnut and almond notes followed by a velvety, tongue-hugging mouthfeel; simply nectar-like! Made from fresh pomace of aromatic grapes like Muscat Hamburg (Black Muscat) and Roditis and is seasoned with red and sweeet vinsanto after 5 years of ageing in French and American oak barrels – this elegant yet powerful spirit has changed my idea of tsipouro completely!

IMG_3778

Spicy cheese and charcuterie plate offerd by the ever professional team of Vogatsikou 3

I added one small ice cube in my glass which accentuated all the aromas and released every single citrus peel and warm spice I could think of.

What is your experience with tsipouro and have you tried any aged ones?

Keep your eyes peeled for these aged gems because they are here to stay!

P.S. Vogatsikou 3 used to be called Bel Air, one of the most succesfull and well-known bars of Thessaloniki and it is the place where me and my friends spent some wonderful times (months rather…) during our university years . Heart-warming memories! It feels very satisfactory to be able to go back to a place filled with happy memories and music.

And alcohol.

If you want to try Dark Cave, you can find it at houseofwine.gr

Follow on Bloglovin

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!

terry kandylis

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.

IMG_3632

The tasting was in full swing until late

IMG_3633

The Hallgarten & Novum Wines stand is always busy!

IMG_3635

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

IMG_3637

Pure Nectar from Samos

IMG_3638

Winemaker Stamatis Mylonas  from Mylonas Wines imported by Maltby & Greek

papayannopoulos

Winemaker Panagiois Papayiannopoulos from Tetramythos Wines

IMG_3619

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

IMG_3639

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

IMG_3643

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

IMG_3645

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

IMG_3646

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!!

Follow on Bloglovin

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.

IMG_3874

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

Follow on Bloglovin

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!

Follow on Bloglovin

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.

IMG_1426

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?

Follow on Bloglovin

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.

img_2649-1

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!

Follow on Bloglovin