Avaton in Greek means an inaccessible and unapproachable place, sacred and inviolable. In ancient Greek religious sites, the avaton was a place where entry to the uninitiated was forbidden. Even today, this rule is still observed at the sacred area of Mount Athos, a mountain and peninsula in Halkidiki, Northern Greece. Mount Athos is a UNESCO World Heritage site and houses some 1400 monks in 20 monasteries. It is also an autonomous state under Greek sovereignty. The avaton forbids access to Mount Athos by any female, and is strictly observed.
Avaton is also the name of a red wine from Domaine Gerovassiliou that I have long thought of being quintessential Greek. It is a blend of three indigenous varieties that are less well known: Limnio, Mavroudi and Mavrotragano.
The Avaton was one of the first Greek wines that I tasted when I moved to Greece eight years ago. I still remember the first time I sipped it: The wine captivated all my senses – combining familiarity (quality) with curiosity (aroma and palate). It was a defining moment that started my passion for Greek wine.
The Avaton is fairly well distributed in the export markets, including Germany, the UK and the U.S. The current vintage is the 2007. The wine has forthcoming aromas of black forest fruit, dark and broody, with a distinct earthiness. On the palate, it is dense and rich, without being too heavy, ripe fruit and dark chocolate, noticeable yet integrated tannins, an almost elegant spiciness, a solid mid-palate and a very strong finish. This blend from ancient Greek varieties is executed in a modern style. Delicious to drink now, but it can certainly be laid down to be enjoyed in the years to come.
The only drawback might be its pricing, especially in the U.S. market – at nearly 50 USD plus tax it is by no means a bargain. In Europe, the average price is around 20€. But the wine will not disappoint, and given its uniqueness you might as well seek this out.