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.