The news from Greece has been relatively dreadful lately, but this article got through on the positive side. I really enjoyed this summary of what Greece has to offer in the wine world.
This article was originally published by KW Now!. It is pasted here for your convenience.
The wines of Greece are making a comeback. The average consumer is not just concerned about quality; they are also now focusing on the dynamics, trends and balances of the global wine market. With this in mind, Greece is now offering unique, competitive wines that make sense for today’s marketplace.
The increase in quality, the rise in standards and the climb of expertise are just a few things that are helping to bring Greek wines back into the forefront of the wine market.
Greece has an impressive variety of grapes from which to craft their wines. A large portion of these grape varietals offer distinct, unconventional character that other global wine regions simply don’t possess. Greek wines exhibit a certain ‘sense of place’. If you have a palette for wine, you’ll know when you have sipped a well known Greek wine. There will be more on this ‘Sense of Place’ or ‘somewhereness’ as it is now called.
Greece is known as one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world. There is evidence that Greek wine was produced nearly 6,500 years ago. According to several sources, there is evidence that suggests wine production in Greece is the second oldest known grape wine remnants discovered in the world.
Rather than wine being produced at a large scale, the wine then was produced on a household or communal basis. During those early days, wine became an important trading commodity and travelled across the Mediterranean. It was the Roman Empire that really put Greek wine on the map as during that era, the Roman’s put it in high demand. Later, during the medieval period, Greek wines were exported from Crete, Monemvasia and other Greek ports which influenced prices in northern Europe.
The early Greek civilization worshiped Dionysus, the god of wine. The Dionysian cults spread throughout the Mediterranean areas during the period of 1600 BC to the year 1.(1) Hippocrates, an ancient Greek physician during the time of classic Greece, used wine for medicinal purposes and prescribed it to his patients. (1)
The Ancient Greeks introduced vines such as Vitis vinifera and made wine in their numerous colonies in Italy, Sicily, southern France, and Spain.(1) The Vitis vinifera grape which today is the go-to grape for most of the world thrives in temperate climates near coastal areas with mild winters and dry summers. The grape has adapted well and flourished in the Northern Mediterranean areas.(1)
Historically, the most reputable wines of ancient Greece were Chian, Coan, Corcyraean, Cretan, Euboean, Lesbian, Leucadian, Mendaean, Peparethan wine, Rhodian and Thasian. Two other names may or may not be regional: Bibline wine and Pramnian wine are named in the earliest Greek poetry, but without any reliable geographical details.(2)
In 1937, Greece established its first Wine Institute. During the 1960s, wine called retsina very quickly became the national beverage and soon became known worldwide with Greece and Greek wine. The Country’s first Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard was planted in Greece 1963. In 1971 and 1972, legislation established appellation laws(3) which helped to improve wine quality standards country-wide.
There is a mature lifestyle that maintains the average internal wine consumption levels. Similar to countries like Italy, or France, wine is part of the everyday lifestyle in Greece. It is consumed with both lunch and dinner. I have been lucky enough to travel to Greece and to see their vineyards and try their wines. Greeks are very set in their ways. They know what they like, and they like Greek wine! Having a meal without a glass of wine is completely out of the question.
Several main wine regions or appellations make up the Greek wine industry. These include:
· Central Greece
· Ionian Islands
New Wines of Greece!
On May 10th 2011, the ‘New Wines of Greece” trade show came to the Metropolitan Hotel in Toronto. The show had the full spectrum of Greek wines available for tasting. Unfortunately I couldn’t make it to the show; however a good friend of mine, and Chair to the Wine Judges of Canada, Steve Gunning was in attendance and luckily for us was happy to share his tasting notes with us. Below is a list of some of the wines that were available at the New Wines of Greece show. If you’re interested in trying something new and expanding your knowledge and palette, keep your eye open at the LCBO for some of these wines.
Mediterra Xerolithia 2010
PDO Peza, Dry White
Grape Variety: Vilana (mostly widely planted white grape in Greece)
Tasting Notes: Citrus fragrance with hints of apricots. Light body, with mineral notes. Finishes clean and crisp with fine acid balance.
Oenoforos Asprolithi 2010
PDO Patras, Dry White
Grape Variety: Roditis (there is a very large production of this varietal in Greece)
Tasting Notes: Light body but with good mouth feel. Citrus, and some earthy aromas. The wine was balanced well with a slightly acidic, but fresh finish.
Parparoussis Taos 2005
PGI Achaia, Dry Red
Grape Variety: Mavrodaphne
Tasting Notes: Very savoury, excellent refined herbal aromas (bay leaves, eucalyptus), excellent floral intensity with big cheery flavour profile.
Santowine Vinsanto 2004
PDO Santorini, Dessert White
Grape Variety: Assyrtiko, Aedani
Region: Santoini Island/Cyclades
Tasting Notes: Deep brown/gold colour. Baked sugar flavours with big mouth feel structure. Very sweet, full bodied wine. Flavours and aromas of Christmas cake, marmalade, and honey. Very nice!
If you are looking for something new and interesting this weekend, pick up a bottle of Greek wine and broaden your palette! Till next time!
Mat Vaughan, WJC (Wine Judges of Canada)Travelling Grape Wine Tours