Earlier this year, New Wines of Greece reached out to us and offered up a smattering of samples from several growing regions. Stephanie Block sipped and reviewed them below based on their merits and gives a general overview of what to know about wines from Greece. – Jonathan Cristaldi, Editor-in-Chief
by Stephanie BlockTravel back to the future in Greece where ancient and modern production methods co-exist for both heirloom and international grape varieties, and discover a fascinating series of officially designated wine regions spread across windswept islands, warm valleys, and even the face of an ancient caldera. These Greek wine samples offer a fairly representative odyssey through indigenous grapes like Liatikos and Moschofilero, important growing regions from Peloponnese to Crete, and tricky terroirs ravaged by relentless winds or bracing heat. Today, when buying Greek wines in your local marketplace or agora, know that Greece has a simple hierarchy of qualities adopted from the European Union’s wine laws. If you see the letters “PDO” on a bottle, you are on the Mount Olympus of the wine pyramid. Greece has been producing and shipping wine for almost five thousand years, and whether in the resin-sealed amphorae of old or modern bottles with lovely ribbon around their necks (see below), this birthplace of Western civilization is not about to let near economic collapse stall their wine trade. The old ways are still practiced here. On Santorini, the koukoura method of training is used, where a low-to-the-ground basket pattern is made of each stefáni, or vine, protecting the grapes inside from howling winds. This is particularly pleasing to your humble wine blogger Stephanie (or “stefáni,” in one Grecian language, ahem). Getting back to our vinous odyssey across Homer’s wine-dark seas, prepare to become enchanted by the Siren-esque white wines of volcanic Santorini with their bright acidity and haunting floral aromas. Calypso-like, find your palate a willing prisoner of the bewitching tropical notes of Macedonia’s famed Malagouzia grape. Then we turn our almost Cycloptic focus onto the wines of the Peloponnese’s Nemea and Mantinia, where the ancient red variety Agiorgitiko is said to have been Agamemnon’s palace wine. Finally, we brave Neptune’s wrath to sail to the sunny island of Crete only to find our noses shipwrecked in the grape Liatikos’s fascinatingly funky barnyard. Arriving home after our adventures, there’s no fear of forgetting because these stories are archived in bottles… whose price points are all below $30. Two shout outs: Thank you Greek wine producers for thoughtfully building pull-ties into many of your foils. And a special thank you to some San Francisco wine tasting pals whose insights and camaraderie were no Trojan horse: Lani, Yoshi and Dan. With a grand past and promising future, snap up the fantastic wines of Greece before they have more suitors than Penelope, and a price to match.