Greek white wines have certainly taken the lion share of the attention received by the wine media. This is a result of the overall consistent quality, the availability (quantity), and the focus on indigenous grape varieties like Assyrtiko, Malagousia, Moschofilero, Robola, Roditis or Savatiano.
For the Greek red wines, quantities are dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon, Agiorgitiko, Merlot, Syrah and Xinomavro. Xinomavro is slowly but surely being recognised as Greece’s most distinguished red variety, and deservedly so.
What captures my attention is the potential of a fair number of indigenous red varieties that are not widely known (yet).
Avgustiatis: Grown in the Western Peloponnese and on some islands. Red fruits, plum and Mediterranean herbs. Has a velvety structure with fine tannins, expressive.
Black of Kalavryta: Limited to Aegiala and Kalavryta in the northern Peloponnese. This can rival fine Pinot Noir.
Koniaros: Limited to Serres in Northern Greece. It yields a muscular, full bodied red with firm tannins.
Liatiko: Its home is in Crete, best known for the production of sweet wines. Dry wines can be stunningly complex, with finesse and balance that capture the senses.
Limniona: Originated in Thessaly. The wine is silky, concentrated, with a lot of finesse. This variety is well on its way to become sought after. It is serious, has the ability to please crowds, and is well priced.
Mavrotragano: From Santorini, the wines are complex, full bodied, masculine and tannic.
Mouchtaros: Rare variety grown in Central Greece. Stewed prunes, blueberries, sweet spices. A medium bodied wine with silky tannins and explosive fruit, quite harmonious.
Vertzami: Grown on the Ionian Islands (mainly Lefkada), also Peloponnese, Central Greece and Epirus. Cassis, black berries and truffles. Bold and rich, with gentle tannins, breathtaking harmony.
Vlahiko: Cultivated in the high altitude, cool climate zones of Epirus. The wine has moderately low alcohol, fine tannins, and a high acidity, very elegant in style, the opposite to heavy and rich.
While I appreciate that all of the above grape varieties are produced by only a handful of growers (and in some cases, only a single one), they are a true showcase of the exiting diversity my adopted home country is bringing to the table. These varieties are a Sommelier’s dream. It would be a great initiative to have them included in a future trade/media event for Greek wines.