by Markus Stolz

Red
wine of 2010

byMarkus Stolz
January 5, 2011, 9 Comments

Greek wines offer a LOT of diversity, so much that any wine lover is bound to find that special bottle which will truly captivate one’s senses. To name a wine of the year can be controversial, as it is guided in part by personal emotion. It is one thing to “judge” wines by their quality, and any professional taster should be able to do this in an  “objective” way.  But this is just a part of a larger whole. Emotions are an intrinsic other part and luckily far from being neutral. It is a mental state that arises spontaneously rather than through conscious effort and involves feeling and sensibility.

I need to clarify that my pick of the year comes from all the wines tasted, but not necessarily released, in 2010. My choice for the Greek red wine of 2010 is guided by both, objective judgement and emotion. It is not implying that this is THE finest and best Greek wine, although it certainly is stunning.

Antonopoulos Vineyards are located close to Patras in the prefecture of Achaia, in the north-western part of the Peloponnese. The estate was started in 1987 by the visionary winemaker Kontantinos Antonopoulos, who died in a tragic car accident in 1994. His work was continued by Yiannis and Nikos Halikias. A total of 75 ha are controlled, of which roughly 25 ha are privately owned.

The one wine that really caught my attention last year is their Gerontoklima 100% Vertzami 2003 (13.5 % alcohol). The grapes are sourced from vineyards in Lefkada, where the soil consists of sand, clay and lime, at an altitude of 300 metres (1000 feet). The wine has an eye-catching colour, very dark, nearly bordering on black, inky with a purple rim. On the nose it shows intense aromas of cassis, black berries, tealeaves and truffles. Bold and rich on the palate, with dense but gentle tannins that are perfectly coupled with a mouth-watering acidity. Still quite tumultuous with an ambitious structure. It finishes very long with some bitterness that does not come across in a negative way. This will most certainly benefit from further cellaring. It should be accompanied by rich and heavy food. Although it is a rich wine, it comes across as very elegant and its harmony is breathtaking.

This wine is a very fine example of what can be achieved with grape varieties that are literally unknown outside Greece. The wine brings up emotions – take one sniff, one sip and you are enchanted.
For some geeky background on the variety, take a look at this article I posted last year.

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  1. jasonJanuary 5, 2011, 7:52 pm

    Oh man! I would love to taste this one! Definitely intend to drink more Greek wine in 2011…

  2. Viviane Bauquet FarreJanuary 6, 2011, 5:53 am

    Markus, You have inspired me yet one more time! There’s nothing else to do but to come to Greece to try these intriguing varietals. For you to pick this Vertzami for your 2010 wine pick, it has to be pretty amazing!

  3. elloinosJanuary 6, 2011, 11:05 am

    Jason, that’s the spirit – I think Greek wines will catch up with many wine lovers in 2011!

  4. elloinosJanuary 6, 2011, 11:06 am

    Viviane, we will share the Vertzami when you come, promised!

  5. Yiannis PapadakisJanuary 7, 2011, 2:50 pm

    Markus, you wrote…”with grape varieties that are literally unknown outside Greece”. I would like to add that vertzami is virtually unknown even within Greece. And it is not the only variety. Apart from assyrtiko, xinomavro, agiorgitiko, roditis, robola, malagouzia, moschofilero and to a lesser extent some other varieties, most indigenous grape varieties are either unknown or have a limited, regional following. I gave a presentation in early November 2010 at a well-known wine restaurants located in the Southern suburbs of Athens, with exactly this subject: red wines from Greek varieties except agiorgitiko and xinomavro. It was a very interesting night. Red wines made from kotsifali, mavrodaphne, mouchtaro, limnio-mavroudi-mavrotragano, limniona, mavro kalavrytino, mandilari and liatiko, really impressed with the potential of the relative varieties. From this tasting comes one of my picks for Best Greek Red I tasted in 2010, which is Oikonomou (or Economou if you will) Sitia 2000, made from Liatiko. An excellent wine at its full maturity, so elegant despite its rusticity, in a manner reminiscent of an aged Chateauneuf du Pape. My other 2 picks are made from international grape varieties, although one of them includes a small amount of an indigenous one. I will specify which they are only after your permission…

  6. elloinosJanuary 7, 2011, 4:08 pm

    Yianni, thanks for sharing this fascinating read. I agree, there are many varietals capable of yielding fascinating wines in Greece. The Sitia from Economou is superb and also a worthy pick. and of course I’d be interested to hear more about the other 2 :)

  7. Yiannis PapadakisJanuary 7, 2011, 4:43 pm

    Well, the other 2 are:
    – Kosta Lazaridi Cava Amethystos 2004, a 100% cabernet sauvignon, quite international in character I have to admit, although it has an unmistakable Drama character, but such an enjoyable wine overall, with good aging potential, on par with some of the best cabernets I have tasted recently from all over the world
    – Skouras Synoro 2006, a blend of 40% Merlot, 40% cabernet franc and 20% agiorgitiko, a nice combination of elegance and power, also quite international in style but perfectly made, in the crossroad of a seductive supertuscan and a noble St. Emilion.

  8. NikosJanuary 10, 2011, 9:21 am

    It sounds very intersting! Can I order this specific wine online? Is there a link through Elloinos?
    Thanks

  9. elloinosJanuary 10, 2011, 11:12 pm

    Niko, I do not have any business relationship with the winery. In Athens, you can find via oineas.gr. Hope this helps.