by Markus Stolz

Greek wine exhibition

byMarkus Stolz
December 7, 2009, 8 Comments

OinoteliaThe 14th Oinotelia Greek wine exhibition took place last weekend at the Athens Concert Hall (Megaron Mousikis). I really do like this event, as the exhibition hall is spacious, and the number of wine estates who show their wines is limited. This is one of the few wine exhibitions where one is actually able to talk to the growers.

 

 

My personal highlights included:

Avantis Estate (Island of Euboea)

Apostolis Mountrichas is best known for his work on the Syrah variety. I tasted the Syrah/Viognier 2007, which is full of spices, red fruits and forest aromas. It is an elegant wine with soft tannins and earthy elements. The rare Syrah Collection 2006 spent 24 months in barrel and matured for an additional 18 months in bottle. It has an essence of cassis, is full bodied and explosive on the palate. The whites also impressed me, they were all from the new 2009 vintage: The Malagousia is very aromatic and dominated by lychees, the Gewürztraminer rich and fresh with spices and exotic fruits, the Sauvignon Blanc super ripe. They all have very appealing acidity levels.

Gaia Estate (Santorini and Nemea)

The Gaia Estate seems to be going from strength to strength. The vintage of 2009 was truly stunning for Assyrtiko in Santorini, look out for these wines! One of my favourite Assyrtiko wines from the Island has always been the Gaia Thalassitis, and the 2009 must be the best I have yet encountered. It is an explosive wine with concentrated, exotic fruits and a stunning finish. Also impressive was the 2008 Assyrtiko Wild Fermented, which is dense and truly expressive of its terroir.

Karadimou (Fthiotida in the north of Greece)

This is a small producer who started in 2001. The 2007 Vissa is made from 100% Xinomavro. It has lots of soft yet concentrated raspberry flavours and some typical vegetable character. The wine has a fistful of tannins and certainly has a lot of bite. I think this will improve a lot of the next decade.

Mega Spilaio (Aigio, Peloponnese)

This estate is on the top of my “up and coming” list! The oenologist Stelios Tsiris certainly knows his work well. I tasted a tank sample of the 2009 Assyrtiko Laghori that grabbed my attention. It has very expressive exotic fruits, but this is the only hint that this wine is produced in Greece. The vineyards have an altitude of 800 to 900 meters, and the cooler climate expresses itself in the wine. The Syrah Rosé 2009 must be one of my favourite Greek rosé wines. The real gems are the three reds: A Mavrodaphne/Kalavryta blend, a 100% Syrah and a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. I was able to taste the 2004, 2005 and 2006 vintages of the former and the latter, plus the 2005 and 2006 of the Syrah. There was a distinctive variation in the vintages, 2005 being a very hot year, 2006 a year with unusual wet weather conditions. However, the quality of the wines was not effected, all wines were top notch and simply expressed the vintages in different ways.

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About Markus Stolz

Over the last years, I have come to really appreciate Greek wines. There are many grape varieties that exist only in Greece and I have the good fortune of being able to try them all. I wish to share my enthusiasm with wine lovers around the world, who often limit themselves to maybe four red and four white grape varieties for most of their life.

  1. Paul DDecember 8, 2009, 2:14 pm

    I am so envious of you Markus having the opportunity of attending such events. However I certainly appreciate the ‘heads up’ on what I need to keep an eye out for the next time I’m in Greece.

  2. elloinosDecember 8, 2009, 2:21 pm

    Paul, I know I am lucky to do all this, after all I work fulltime on something that I really treasure. Having said that, wine exhibitions can be serious work, tasting dozens of wines and making tasting notes gets really hard after 4 hours. But on this occasion it was very good fun!

  3. Kostas KatsoulierisDecember 8, 2009, 9:46 pm

    It was a great event (as always). I KNEW you would like Ktima Mega Spilaio – fantastic wines. It’s great seeing little surprises at these events like Mercouri’s Augoustiatis – Syrah and their dry mavrodaphne. I completely agree with you about Gaia…the wines were fantastic and Yiannis Paraskevopoulos is such a character. Wild Ferment was a surprise and I can’t wait to see what further cellaring will do to it. As for barreled Assyrtiko personally I prefer Argyrou’s version but that’s just me. The Gaia Estate really showed me what heights Agiorgitiko can reach if handled properly – I have been disappointed with so many Nemeas the last few years. I didn’t make it to Avantis (I was late to the exhibition) which was a shame as I wanted to try their whites and admit I have not heard of Karadimou. I’ll certainly ask my cava about it! Bring on Dionysia!!!

  4. elloinosDecember 8, 2009, 10:01 pm

    Kosta, I really liked the event, I was there on Sunday at noon, when the crowd was still bearable. Mega Spilaio was a great experience, if they keep up the quality, great things can be expected from them. Mercouri is always a treat, they deserve to be better known. The Wild Ferment from Gaia has so much depth, it is a top example of Assyrtiko. As for the Nemeas – the top ones are well worth seeking out. Avantis has a great future ahead, and Karadimou had a very stable portfolio of wines. Shame I did not meet you there, I would have liked to exchange views with you.

  5. Kostas KatsoulierisDecember 8, 2009, 11:17 pm

    Next year Markus! In any event I went on the Saturday. Dionysia is bigger and has a fair selection of foreign wines too (importers and wine shops attend too) – I was lucky enough to try the Montes selection at Oinoteleia…very nice! Thanks for another great report!

  6. elloinosDecember 8, 2009, 11:25 pm

    Kosta, I love Dionysia from a professional point of view – earlier this year I went on consecutive days and spent many hours tasting and taking notes. Not many chances to engage in conversations, but ample opportunities to conduct raw tastings. I look forward to the next one…

  7. Yiannis PapadakisDecember 9, 2009, 5:09 pm

    Everyone has his own preferences, favorite styles and likes/dislikes. This time I had plenty of time, so I tasted almost every single wine, quite thoroughly. Here are the ones that stood out:
    1. Whites:
    -Gaia Estate Wild Ferment 2008. This was rhe thurd time that I tasted it and I consistently like it
    -Manoussakis Nostos Roussanne 2008. Probably the best vintage to date, having overcome the low acidity draw-back of previous vintages.
    -Santo Wines Assyrtico Grande Reserve 2007. Nutty, mineral and extremely complex.
    -Antonopoulos Vineyards Malagouzia 2009: Crispy, fresh and lively, already showing nicely although just bottled. (on the contrary the newly released Amygdalies, a dry muskat from the same winery was a disappointment)
    -Douloufakis Dafnios Vidiano 2008, 2009: An excellent job with the local to Crete Vidiano varietal.

    2. Reds
    -Pavlidis Syrah 2006: I was totally amazed by this wine. One of the most successful efforts with an international red variety from a Greek winery. Powerful, robust but on the same time balanced. Has the right components for ageing nicely.
    -Douloufakis Aspros Lagos Cabernet Sauvignon 2006. This winery is going places!
    -Mercouri Estate Cava Mercouri 2006. Explosive, rich, powerful without being over the top.
    -Mercouri Estate Refosco Limited Edition. A wine made from grapes originating from 120 years old vines, planted by the founder of this estate. Very deep and complex, if not so impressive at first sip. (Palaia Klimata anyone?)

    I also liked many of the non-Greek wines exhibited, but I guess this is a subject that goes beyond the scope of this site.

    My apologies for being so extensive…

  8. elloinosDecember 9, 2009, 5:17 pm

    Yianni, thanks so much for being so extensive, I am very lucky that my readers are engaging so much on this blog. Huge thank you to every single one of you! You summed up your findings very nicely, and I agree with you on most wines. Pavlidis, Manousakis and Mercouri are really producing excellent wines at this point, I have a few bottles of the Mercouri Refosco Limited stacked away in my cellar :) I also love the Antonopoulos Malagousia, but did not get a chance to taste the Santo Wines nor the Douloufakis. But I trust your judgment on those, as your taste seems to be similar to mine.