by Markus Stolz


byMarkus Stolz
December 23, 2009, 16 Comments

Mark Squires scored 109 Greek wines in the issue #186 of Robert Parker’s wine advocate, which was released just a few hours ago. 15 wines scored between 90 and 94 points, 59 wines between 87 and 89 points, 27 wines between 84 and 86 points, and 8 wines between 79 and 82 points.

Three sweet wines received the top ratings, Xinomavros scored extremely well. Mark writes, “…my favorites in 2007 were probably the Xinomavros…consumers looking for something different should be snapping them up”.

It is quite interesting to note that only 8 wines were tasted and scored by both Mark Squires and the German wine critics. This means that in the last days, tasting notes with excellent scores for 170 different wines have been released; this is surely a world first! It also shows that the ongoing wine revolution that is taking place in Greece has now resulted in a broad range of excellent and exciting wines.

I emphasized that the German wine critics rarely score as high as their foreign counterparts, now I also have proof for this: 6 out of the 8 wines were scored an average of just over 3 full points lower by the Germans! One wine received the same score, and only one wine scored higher – and I wonder if Mark Squires might have had an off-bottle in this case, as his low rating of the wine in question surprised me.

I am delighted that the current decade ends with such great praise for the wines from Greece. The wine critics certainly have thrown in their support. The time is ripe for the merchants to follow suit.

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  1. jasonDecember 23, 2009, 8:49 pm

    Congratulations! I know how hard you have been working to get this type of exposure for Greek wines. As I’ve said before let me know if I can do anything to help as you can count me among the fans!

  2. elloinosDecember 23, 2009, 9:51 pm

    Jason, thank you so much. I am honored to know people like yourself who support Greek wines and help to spread the word. I do not take this is granted for one second – without this kind of interaction, things would not have progressed the way they currently are.

  3. Paul DDecember 24, 2009, 1:40 pm

    Excellent news, I only hope the momentum continues and manages to make it as far as the UK.

    Hope you and your family have a great Christmas and New Year.

  4. elloinosDecember 24, 2009, 2:32 pm

    Paul, thanks so much for your good wishes. I will certainly build on the positive momentum in the coming year, and also plan an event in the UK. After all, it is a very important market, and at the same time has one of the lowest penetrations when it comes to Greek wines.

  5. Kostas KatsoulierisDecember 30, 2009, 8:50 am

    Markus, first of all a belated Frohe Weinachten and best wishes for a healthy, happy and prosperous 2010. These are great results, long awaited (although those who love Greek wine knew that it was only a matter of time…) and hopefully a sign of more things to come. I hope the momentum continues (and with energetic people like yourself it really can do so) and the producers do not: 1) rest on their laurels and stop trying to improve (which has happened before) as well as 2) use these high scores to raise their prices (which I am sure many will be tempted to do). Were there any surprises for you in the scores? Eis anwtera!

  6. Kostas KatsoulierisDecember 30, 2009, 9:12 am

    I also hope that these results persuade publications like Wine Spectator to focus more on Greek wines. Perhaps this is a problem with the distribution and storage of Greek wines in the US or perhaps there are prejudices out there that will take time to break down. Going back to a conversation on your blog some months ago, I really hope that the next time i go to that wine store (more like a warehouse) in New Jersey, I won’t see Demestica and Kourtakis Retsina but will see an organised area for Greek wine with a good cross section. It’s not a crime to dream is it? ;-)

  7. elloinosDecember 30, 2009, 9:28 am

    Kosta, thank you for your wishes. I am glad that Greek wines finally receive more publicity, the last few weeks bode well for 2010. I do not think that the winemakers will rest on their laurels, there simply is too much hunger for improvement. The scores by Mark Squires did not surprise me, I know that he is a huge believer in the top sweet wines (actually he has called them to be one of the bargains in the world). It is also no secret that he sees a great future for Xinomavro. I am glad that a critic of his caliber shows such a honest interest in Greek wines.

  8. elloinosDecember 30, 2009, 9:40 am

    Kosta, the Wine Spectator might shift their focus once they see a more general shift in perception, which might still be quite some time away. But in the US, you find publications like the Wine & Spirits Magazine who are on top and have been reporting about Greek wines for years. I believe it is more important to reach readers through the Internet.

  9. Yiannis PapadakisJanuary 4, 2010, 2:57 pm

    I was positively impressed for the second time by Mark Squire’s professionalism. Whether somebody agrees with his reviews or not is a personal matter, but what is beyond any dought, is his thoroughness, the attention he pays to each wine and the amount of information he collects while approaching a wine region and even every individual wine.
    I was upset by certain Greek journalists’ negative reactions after the first reviews on Greek wines were published on the Wine Advocate, simply because they deviated in various ways from their prejudice and pre-occupation. In certain cases I felt that they are seing international wine reviewers as a threat to their monopoly in offering information and opinions on Greek wines.
    Now on the reviews themselves.
    1. In general they are on the same direction as the December 2008 reviews, in the sence that the winners are: Dessert wines, Santorini whites, Xinomavros. However Mark Squires (unlike Wine Spectator’s Kim Markus) did not ignore certain interesting (to his opinion) wines made from international grape varieties, which he scored 90 or 89.
    2. As on December 2008, the 3 top scoring wines are sweet. I was personally glad to see Parparoussis Muskat of Rio Patras 2003 among them.
    3. For the second time he rated high (91 this time for the 2006 vintage vs. 90 last year for the 2005 vintage), the Naoussa Xinomavro from Karydas, another personal favorite of mine that is almost totally ignored by the Greek wine press.
    4. Once again no wine scored in the “extraordinary” range (96-100). This should be seen by Greek wine-makers as a challenge for higher achievments rather than as a result of a negative prejudice against them (please no more conspiracy theory…)
    5. As is frequently the case, many highly regarded (within Greece) winemakers failed to reach the higher ranks, while others with lesser reputation (and profile) did much better.
    Thanks once again for your space and congratulations for your great job.
    Happy and fruitful New Year and Decade!

  10. tobias cooks!January 4, 2010, 4:05 pm

    Could you post which ones that were. I do not have access to the Parker site.

  11. elloinosJanuary 4, 2010, 4:26 pm

    Yianni, thank you very much for your insightful comment. I have also come to appreciate Mark Squires very much. If it were for him alone, Greek wines might even be covered in more detail. I agree 100% that Mark has done exceptional groundwork, and a lot of effort has gone into his notes. This has little to do with “just” tasting the wines, he has developed the knowledge for the grape varieties, regions etc first, then he reported about the wines.

  12. Kostas KatsoulierisJanuary 4, 2010, 8:01 pm

    Having seen the wines rated, I too was glad to see Parparoussis Muscat scoreed so highly as well as Achaia Clauss getting some respect after so many years in the doldrums. I believe Mavrodaphne dessert wines are much maligned and misunderstood – like Retsina they are part of Greece’s heritage. Like Retsina I am glad there are winemakers out there who will seek to improve on old traditions and make modern styles of these wines (eg. Mercouri & Cavino for Mavrodaphne / Gaia & Kechris for Retsina). I was surprised however by the absence of any Samos dessert wines and any syrahs (bar Hatzimichalis & Olympus). Perhaps MS didn’t get the opportunity to taste any other Greek syrahs or Samos ones.

    Also mpravo to Yianni for raising once again Greek’s unfortunate love of conspiracy theories as well as the prejudices I am afraid some Greek wine journalists suffer from. Sometimes I cannot believe the stuff some of them write, the scores they give certain wines and seriously question whether they ever taste wines blind. I hope my fears (expressed above) are not realised as that would be shame. I also agree with Yianni that they should accept the challenge and strive to hit the 96 and over mark.

  13. elloinosJanuary 4, 2010, 8:22 pm

    Kosta, I agree on the Parparoussis Muscat – and I prefer this to his Mavrodaphne. I believe strongly that the sweet wines of Greece are one of the true bargains available on a global basis. Mark simply did not have the time to visit all producers and regions when he was in Greece, but the sweet wines from Samos were covered in the August online edition of the wine advocate, they did also score highly.

  14. NaomiApril 16, 2010, 6:05 am

    I hope someone here can help me. I attended a party at Gracie Mansion to celebrate Greek Independence day and the parade this coming sunday in Manhattan. Anyway, they had a white wine that said Olympus (vertically) along the bottle in blue lettering on a clear bottle. Silly me, I thought that was the brand, however I can’t find it anywhere. I would appreciate any insight on this wine. Thank you.

  15. elloinosApril 16, 2010, 8:19 am

    Naomi, this might be a tough one to answer – my best guess is that it might be from the region of Mount Olympus in the north of Larissa. White wines might come from Krania or Tyrnavos. Some producer names: Karipidi, Katsaros, Tsantali, Vasdavanos.