Greek wine has a very poor reputation, mostly because for a long time they have been churning out some pretty ordinary wine! We in Australia are just seeing the good quality producers being brought into Australia. So when importer Pete Johns suggested we show some open minded wine drinkers some great wines from Greece I jumped at the chance.
For the first time in a long time I walked into a wine event knowing almost nothing about the wines we were about to taste. It was a great feeling be free of preconceived notions and be able to learn from start. When you add a trip to the Press Club into the mix it becomes quite an exciting night!
|The major regions of Greece.|
On arrival we were treated to Tselepos ‘Amalia’ Brut NV made in the methode traditionelle from native Greek variety Moschofilero. This wine was bright, fresh, grapey and floral with citrus, chalk and a clean and long palate. It was very much like a Prosecco in outlook and could easily be interchanged if you wanted to try something a bit different.
Note: ‘Tselepos’ is the producers name. ‘Amalia’ is the name of the a family member of the wine maker and has no meaning beyond that.
Artichoke – Jerusalem, celeriac, parsnip, smoked walnut, toursi onion, kalamata olive paired with Tselepos Mantinia Moschofilero 2011. This was great to compare a still Moschofilero to a sparkling one. This table wine was spicey, floral/handsoap like, lychees and musk. It had a great mid palate weight, with a fresh and clean mouthfeel and just a hint of bitterness. A very sweetly perfumed wine but still quite dry. It is like a devine cross between Gewurztraminer and Muscat.
Note: Andrew from the Press Club is quite knowledgeable on Greek wines and explained that ‘Moscho’ means grey, which refers to the grey almost pink colour of the ripe grapes (much like Pinot Gris). ‘Mantinia’ is the region the wine comes from.
|The Press Club|
Swordfish – “Poiseidon god of the sea”, sea weed & vegetables, ouzo mayoneza, nicola. This was a pretty amazing bracket and an equally amazing dish. We had Sigalas Assrytiko Athiri 2009 a blend of 75% Assrytiko with 25% Athiri which showed brine, citrus, stones and a hint of seaweed with a sweet core of tropical fruits and a long, lean, floral and dry palate. Very refreshing and a bit gluggable before the food turned up. Compared with the Sigalas Santorini Assrytiko 2011 100% Assrytiko which had a strong tone of seaweed, brine, minerals, stones, white flowers and green olives. It was focussed, textured with an oystershell note. It was a bit off putting at first because it was so dry but when the swordfish arrived it became so glorious to drink. The change was amazing. Santorini is a volcanic island in the Aegean Islands. The tourists and locals mainly live inside the top of the volcanos crater. The outside is a windswept sandy place that gets little to no rainfall, all the moisture is blown up off the sea. If you can picture that you can imagine that the wine tastes like where it is grown.
Note: ‘Santorini’ is the region/island. ‘Assrytiko’ and ‘Athiri’ are grape varieties.
Interlude Driopi Rose 2011 a stunningly perfumed wine of bright, red, crunchy, marachino cherry, floral and grapey notes. Quite spicy, sweet fruited and clean on the palate. Despite how sweet it smelt it was in fact as dry as a dry rose can be. A great cleanser and perfect for drinking in more informal occasions too. It is made from Agiorgitiko and we got to drink a red table wine example next up.
Note: ‘Agiorgitiko’ is a variety that has been used to make, red, rose, sweet and sparkling wine in Greece. To pronounce it remember the ‘g’s are silent.
Veal – Loin, sweetbread, kefalograviera consomme, anchovy, almond, kounipidi A wonderful dish that was easily as good as the swordfish and matched beautifully with the Driopo Nemea Agiorgitiko 2009. In contrast to the rose this was dense, red fruited, smokey, dark chocolatey, soot with a clean, schisty/mineral core. This reminded me of a great Hunter Shiraz with its fruit power but structural balance. Lovely wine, great match with the food.
Note: ‘Nemea’ is the region on the Peloponnese.
|The menu – stunning!|
Wagyu – 24 hr oyster blade, horta, heirloom carrots, smoke almonds & oats This was a seriously sticky and flavoursome dish that required something special to wrestle the attention away. As it happened we had Sigalas Mavrotragano 2009 which was a brute! Dense, deeply coloured, dark fruits, dry herbs, olives, hint terracotta, dry earth, smoke and firm tannins (despite being decanted for a few hours). This was a musclar wine that demands food at this stage but so very delicious. Very much like an Aglianico for those that have tried the variety.
Note: ‘Mavrotragano’ is the variety, ‘mavro’ means dark/black.
Sokolata – Zeus & his 8 mistresses with Michael Cluizel single origin chocolate Wow! What a dish. So chocolately, nine tastes in all. It certainly makes quite an impact and a great way to finish off. The wine match was Sigalas Vinsanto 2004. Until recently I thought Vinsanto was a traditional Italian drink, as it turns out it is something they adopted from the Greeks. It involves a very long process of sun drying and barrel aging grapes to make a sweet wine of power and finesse. There was plenty of stuffing, with floral notes, raisins, white choclate and a silky and charming mouthfeel.
Note: Vinsanto could easily translate to hedonism!
|Zeus and the ladies. They got on surprisingly well.|
This was such a fun evening and Pete Johns did such a great job explaining what makes the best wines of Greek so special.