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Sunday, August 12, 2012

It’s Greek to Me!



I’m on a roll from my recent Society of Wine Educators annual conference.  I haven’t stopped thinking about the best I tasted out of <200 wines…a couple of them were from Greece.   I’ve had a love affair with Greece since my first visit in 1976.  On the Wine-Knows 2005 tour to Greece, however, I fell in love with their wines which are now of a caliber that even Dionysus, the Greek God of wine, would endorse.

The Society’s seminar title, “The New Wines of Greece,” was the perfect moniker.  With mega financing in the 1980’s and 90’s from the European Union, Greece invested a bazillion Euro’s in its wineries.  Greek winemakers are nowadays trained in Bordeaux, Burgundy or the best wine universities in Italy.  Modern wineries in Greece are sleek and sexy enough to be in Napa.  Most importantly, the quality of the country’s wines are now fit for their Greek Gods.

Although Greece makes some killer red wines, the two wines that knocked my socks off at the symposium were both white.  I’ve already ordered a case on the Internet of the 2011 San Gerassimo Robola by the Cephalonia Cooperative. Cephalonia is a small island on Greece’s western coast (the movie Captain Corelli’s Mandolin with Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz was filmed in this idyllic spot).  The wine’s peach and apricot flavors were nicely balanced with some interesting mineral notes---no doubt contributed by the island’s volcanic soils.  A beautiful finish completed the $22 package.

My other favorite was a fabulous fruit bomb called Gerovassilious Malagousia.  The 2010 vintage, this wine is made in Greece’s northern area of Macedonia.  Here are my tasting notes from this session: 
  • “Color:  deep yellow
  • Nose:  ethereal apricot and white peach…almost a Viognier
  • Taste:  apricot and yellow peaches with a hint of cinnamon.”
Little did I know until I researched the Malagousia post conference, that Robert Parker is a fan, along with a host of wine critics around the globe.  This is a great little wine for $25.

Not a white fan?  OK, I’ve got a great red producer for you.  While these wines were not showcased at the Society of Wine Educators meeting, I have visited the winery in Greece and I’m a raving fan.  Domaine Skouras is located south of Athens in the Peloponnese…not far from the historical Olympus, Marathon and Spartacus.  Established in 1986 by a Burgundian-trained Greek, George Skouras, it’s a major player in Greece’s quality wine arena.  Skouras is working wonders with local indigenous grapes, as well as blending with international varietals such as cabernet and merlot.

Those lucky 12 persons who have secured spots on next year’s trip to the Greek Islands will hopefully be tasting these wines on board the private yacht that Wine -Knows has chartered.  If you would like to travel to Greece but cannot, these wines are about as close as you can get to this drop-dead beautiful Mediterranean country…a kind of Greece in your glass experience.

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