Indigenous grape varieties from Greece are unique and authentic. Who needs Greek wines made from international grape varieties? Why bother to highlight those Greek producers that do excel with non-Greek varieties?
My recent post “The Greek Rhone Rangers” triggered an email exchange with Kim Ginsberg, a New York based Wine Consultant/Spirit advisor. With her permission, I publish our conversation here on elloinos. What is YOUR view on the issue?
K.G. Is this REALLY what you want to champion, support, write about in Greek Wines? Do we want to go to Greece for Syrah? The future of Greek wines lies in their ability to hold onto, embrace, what is unique to them. What is special. Authentic. And the people that have the courage to do that. Indigenous grape varieties. Please, don’t encourage winemakers to abandon their legacy.
M.S. I am a huge supporter of indigenous grape varieties. At the same time, there are some wines that are authentic and truly well made, coming from international varieties. This does not happen all that often, but when it does, these winemakers have my full support. I do find your point of view somewhat limited.
K.G. Yes, it IS limited! The fact that XYZ chose to make a Xinomavro-Merlot blend wine tells me that they were misguided by their perceptions of the market, or by what others advised them to do. They were afraid their indigenous varietals were not good enough? They felt they had to pander to the market? I don’t know.
“Build it and they will come” I say. Who needs to go to Greece for Merlot? Don’t lose what makes you special. Don’t pander. They don’t have to re-invent the wheel. Look at the fantastic Mavrokalavryta that Tetramythos makes, as elegant and sublime as any Bourgogne rouge out there! What a treasure trove of goodies lie in the soil of Greece!
At the very same instant that America is craving “artisanal” this and that in other areas of drink (single batch bourbons, micro brews..) and food (cheeses…jamons…etc) the wine industry is still loaded with “International-style” wine production. Why is this?
Yes, my view is VERY limited, like DOGC etc. I don’t want Velveeta cheese from Reggiano do you?
M.S. I hear what you are saying. The fact that XYZ added Merlot is no misguidance – I actually like the added dark chocolate notes. It is simply not all black and white – winemakers were and are not afraid to experiment, this is not a bad thing.
Don’t get me wrong – for example, I have often said that are only two or three producers in all of Greece that make really good Cabernet, with many others being poor. Does the world need another Cabernet? Not likely, although maybe, if the quality is really outstanding. If there is a Greek winemaker who excels with Cabernet, why should we keep quiet about it?
K.G. For the same reason that Cabernet should not be grown in Burgundy or in Rioja.
When a country’s agricultural groups believe they have something special (wine, cheese, ham, Vidalia onions…olive oil) and regulate it, to keep the legacy alive, the quality protected, so the consumer has some sense of the product, it becomes more marketable. The regulations help to define the product.
We keep yammering about “terroir” and yet I sense less and less of it these days. More and more overripe, reverse osmosis, manipulated, over-extracted plonk from all over the world.
M.S. Should you ever visit Greece, I am more than happy to taste some real top examples of Greek wines from international varieties with you (as I said, there are only view around :) Then you can make up your mind about “terroir”.
K.G. I would love that! Thank you!