When I was young I once asked my brother what the difference was between “Mer-lo” and “Mer-lot”. Needless to say, while I know a thing or two about wine now, I do still have a difficult time pronouncing intricate French or Spanish wine names. But I’ve been getting better, and I was really building my wine-lingo confidence!
This was, until I was introduced to Greek wines at the Wines Of Greece Roadshow and Masterclass. Buckle up, because there are some fantastic wines to review, and I cannot pronounce a single one of them.
Good thing I was only expected to taste them.
With so many amazing vintages stationed around the spacious Gallery on Waymouth Street, we all but flipped a coin over where to start.
A little spoiler: these were my fave wines of the day. Namely their 2015 Naoussa Alta, which is made from 100% Xinomavro. It had a beautiful cherry and floral nose with a mature flavour and dry, fruit forward characteristics. A perfect red to warm your spirits on these chilly Adelaide winter evenings. Thymiopoulos Vineyards is a younger generation of winemakers, all about organic cultivation and experimenting with biodynamics. Every glass we tasted was full of dynamic flavour and the representative spoke about Thymiopoulos Vineyards with so much passion, it’s clear to see that these wines are a labour of love. Hence why I’m marking Thymiopoulos Vineyards as my top pick from the Wines Of Greece.
Located in Drama, Northern Greece, Ktima Pavlidis is considered to be one of Greece’s leading wineries. Their 2017 Emphasis Assyrtiko was a stand-out to me, the grapes being hand-harvested at night in order to take advantage of the cooler temperature and preserve the varietals’ aromatics and natural acidity. With a floral nose and flavours of fresh citrus, this is a perfect wine to pair with some creamy cheese.
While the first winery we tasted took my top spot overall, Katogi Averoff brought my favourite Rose of the day. Being one of the most historic wineries in Greece, Katogi Averoff clearly know how to create stand-out wines. Their 2017 Katogi Averoff Rose, made from 100% Xinomavro, is an elegant rose with bold flavours of strawberry and raspberry. Each sip almost tasted like you were biting into the fruit itself without an overpowering sweetness. So fresh and delightful, it makes me want to #roseallday. Sorry, it had to be said.
I was drawn to this winery because of their wine bottle artwork. Then, when we got closer, I looked down at their bottle of Moi, Je M’En Fous Red, back up at the gentleman pouring my tasting and realized it’s his face both in front of me and on the bottle! The wine itself was vibrant and medium-bodied with dark cherries on the nose and an expressive fruit flavour with smooth tannins to finish. Perfect to pair with a traditional Greek dinner or simply to sip on its own! While they’re not available in Australia yet, I’d keep an eye out for when they are. Monsieur Nicolas offers heaps of personality with their wines!
Kexchris Winery is one of the most traditional family wineries of Northern Greece, winemaking since 1911. They have an overall goal to redefine Retsina and highlight the potential of this rare and unique type of wine in Greece. So, of course, we had to taste them! Their 2017 Tear Of The Pine stood out to me, being a Retsina Appellation made from 100% Assyrtiko. This white has a beautiful yellow straw colour, with a lemony nose blended with vanilla and butter aromas. The flavours come through citrus with the herbaceous nature of rosemary. A beautifully complex wine which leaves you desiring a second sip so you can unlock more of its unique tendencies.
By the end of our journey through Greek wines I was no better at pronouncing any of their names. However, I had gained an appreciation for the love and craftsmanship which goes into each and every bottle we tasted. Next time you’re at a local cellar or perhaps the next time you’re in Greece, keep an eye out for these bottles. They are definitely an experience you’ll want to taste.
Words by Jamieson Eileen