What makes Greek wine so special is the fact that it is sourced from fantastic indigenous varieties adapted to unique terroirs and from the hands of talented winemakers that craft wines of great personality. – Sofia Perpera, director of Greek wine office in North America
For the first time ever Houston was added to the Wines of Greece annual Spring road show. Winemakers from various sectors of Greece presented their new vintage and current releases to a thirsty bunch of wine enthusiasts and distributors at Helen in the Heights.
Did you know that according to data from the Canadian and US government, Greek wine sales have increased by 25% in value over the past five years, on the Canadian and US markets? The world of Greek Wine is one of the most diverse, growing environments. Especially here in Houston. The indigenous and international varietals from Greece are set to shake up the wine scene.
Over 40 winemakers from Greece shared their wines in mass quantities. While, I have highlighted a few favorites below, there are some I missed. It was either, drive home safely or sleep in one of the booths at Helen!
An inmate workshop led by James Tidwell MS and Sofia Perpera, Enologist and Director of the Greek Wine Bureau for North America, jump started the roadshow. Followed by endless pours of roughly 72 Greek wines during the walk-around tasting. The wines were perfectly accompanied by food parings from Helen.
WINES & GRAPE VARIETIES
Assyrtiko is one of Greece’s finest and most popular white grape varieties. It’s indigenous to the island of Santorini and one of the few varieties that has the ability to maintain its acidity as it ripens. This particular varietal produces a drier wine with notes of citrus and minerals due to the volcanic soil of Santorini. Assyrtiko has been planted all over the country of Greece, and its characteristics yield different results depending on location.
Seems like the most enjoyable experiences are those that are genuinely authentic. Hence my love for the Greek wines made of 100% indigenous grapes . Like the wines from Palivou Estate and Wine Art Estate. Grapes varieties like Agiorgitiko, Malagousia and Moschofilero can be found in their dry white, red and rosé wines. The La Vie en Rosé and Plano Malagousia were both subtly sweet and silky. Usage of only indigenous Moschofilero and Malagousia grapes created a slight sweetness that was quite obvious when comparing the Plano Malagousia (100% Malagousia) to the Stone Hill blend a 50/50 Malagousia & sauvignon blend.
Port wine is a fortified wine that’s typically a sweet, red wine, often served as a dessert wine. “Vinsanto,” is a non-fermented, naturally sweetened wine. Often compared to a Port wine. Here, Assyrtiko was used together with the aromatic Aidani and Athiri grapes. Most noteworthy was the 2009 Barrel Aged Vinsanto from Estate Argyros. Its natural sweetness left a slightly sweet coating to my lips and tongue.
Due to the abundance of Greek Wines highlighted, I couldn’t taste them all. A couple honorable mentions were the wines from Kechris Winery and Biblia Chora.
Tassos, a wine maker from Kechris offered a new varietal of grape called “Xinomavro.” A predominant grape found in Macedonia known for its superb aging potential and their rich tannic character. The 2013 Kechris Xinomavro was a complex combination of such red fruits as gooseberry and dark cherries. A hit when paired with the passed skewers of halloumi cheese, Kalamata olives and compressed watermelon.
In closing, it’s quite possible that I’ve fallen in love with the unique and distinctive varietals of grapes from Greece. I can’t wait to visit Greece for an up close and personal tour of the country’s vineyard’s.
Thanks for reading. Make sure to check out the photo gallery below. ♥