When you think of Greece, wine is not necessarily at the forefront. When you think of Greece, top of mind would probably be its richness in philosophy/mythology, democracy, science, art, Spartan warriors, white-washed houses, olives/oils, feta cheese and ouzo!
Greece has some of the oldest vines in the world and likely the richest past in winemaking. If we take a look into just a sliver of its history you will learn that Zeus was known for his erotic escapades. He had many godly and heroic children one of which was named Dionysus. He was the god of the grape harvest, winemaking, fertility and pleasure to mankind. Not a bad appointment by the allfather right!?
God Dionysus was then adopted by the Romans as God Bacchus. The ancient Greeks pioneered new methods of viticulture and wine production. They then shared these methods with early winemaking countries: France, Italy, Austria and Russia. Back then, wines were either white wines or black wines (known as red today).
Now that you know just an iota of Greek wine history here is a winemaker that will not disappoint.
Alpha Estate is the brainchild of two visionaries. Founded in 1997 by Makis Mavridis, a second generation vine grower and Angelos latridis, educated in Bordeaux, trained across France, and considered one of Greece’s most promising winemakers.
Alpha Estate believes that the Human factor is essential to the expression of all elements, and state that the “main feature of our work is the ‘soul’ of the people that participate every day in the dream” …tasting the vintners love in a glass, right!
Xinomavro (pron. Ksee-noh-mah-vroh – hard ‘K’) is considered the noblest varietal from northern Greece. This 2014 vintage is 100% Xinomavro and for me a lovely cross border find! It is sourced from a single vineyard block named ‘Hedgehog’ as this was the ancient nesting area for the species. Alpha Estate today, continues to preserve and protect this local animal.
The vineyard altitude is approximately 690 meters with a northern exposure facing Petron Lake and the Voras mountains. With poor soils, excellent drainage and mild water deficits, it results in small berries with intense red colours, concentrated flavours and beautiful aromas.
These grapes are destemmed, with no crushing and left in a cold soak. They maintain wine ‘sur lies’ for eight months with frequent stirrings, then aged for twelve months in French oak and a further year in the bottle.
Greek wines are great value. Though the grape names can be a little intimidating to pronounce, it truly is bottled history. Xinomavro is also known as “The Barolo of Greece.” It has strikingly similar tasting notes to Nebbiolo. So if that helps you select this gem then that is my good deed for today!
This wine is a rich purple-red colour. It is very vivid and clean on the nose with ripe blackberry, warm spices like clove and pepper. On the palate it is medium body and juicy. The acidity is balanced, very bright and still has aging potential. The tannins have finesse and it has a long finish that you will enjoy.
It is an excellent deal at $22 USD
Pairing: Grilled meats, hard cheeses, rich tomato sauces, stews and great conversation!