By Clive Hartley
Indigenous Greek wines have lived in the shadows of it’s more famous European neighbours for too long. Greece has over 300 grape varieties and 153 wine regions so there is no shortage of wines to try. They deserve more attention and are unique.
So, this festive season, become an Ambassador for Greek wine, support your homeland and seek out some of these national treasures.
The star on the top of the wine Christmas tree is assyrtiko from Santorini. A fresh racy dry white wine it displays floral, green apple aromas with a seashell like minerality. This is ideally matched with seafood. Some riper wines display pear and apricot flavours and are better with white meats.
Assyrtiko can be matured in oak barrels as well and a richer style can use the traditional label term Nykteri (Nichteri). It can also be blended with other grapes such as Athiri and Aidani.
Try Argyros Atlantis, Gaia Thalassitis or Domaine Sigalas.
If you like more of a fruity and aromatic white wine then choose moschofilero which has tropical fruit and floral aromas. It has pink skins so you might see it as a rose. This is lighter than assyrtiko with lower alcohol and is made in the high altitude Mantinia region in Peloponnese.
Try Troupis Winery TOHM Moschofilero.
Greece has two top indigenous red/black grapes. Xinomavro from Naoussa is located on the foothills of Mount Vermio and is grown in a chilly semi continental climate. Other regions that grow xinomavro include Amyndeo, Rapsani and Goumenissa. So called the Barolo of Greece, it is similar to the Italian nebbiolo grape and has a light red colour.
On the palate it is dry, light bodied but tannic, with high acid. The wine has aromas of red wild berries, morello cherry, black olives and sun-dried tomatoes.
Try Kir-Yianni Kali Riza Amyndeon, Thymiopoulos Young Vines or Thymiopoulos Alta from Naoussa.
The other red grape is agiorgitiko and is similar to cabernet sauvignon. This is fruitier than xinomavro and displays black fruit, spicy notes and is medium to full bodied with fine tannins. The best expressions come from Nemea in the Peloponnese.
Try Gaia Estate Agiorgitiko.
Finally, coming back to Santorini, the island produces a gorgeous, sweet wine called Vinsanto. The grapes are dried in the sun to enrich the sugar content then made into wine and aged for two years. It has Christmas written all over it with aromas of figs, fruit cake and raisins which all leap out of the glass to wrap you with seasonal joy.
Try Domain Sigalas.
*Clive Hartley is a wine writer and educator based in Victoria and is the author of The Australian Wine Guide. For more articles and wine reviews go to Australian Wine Guide | Clive Hartley’s Award Winning Publication