Sometimes I taste Greek wines that form an immediate bond with me. They don’t have to be stunning or of truly outstanding quality, as long as they show potential. They certainly do not have to be well known.
I am well aware that readers are likely more interested in learning about wines that are well distributed, that they can easily purchase and form their own opinion on. However, I believe it is also important to feature wines that are not well known, but look promising. They are often made by small family wineries, and although these wines may not have reached full potential yet, it is interesting to keep an eye on those producers. Today I would like to give a special mention to an estate whose wines I tasted while working my way through samples recently received. What really intrigues me is that the region where the estate is located is not at all well known for commercial wine production. I wonder if there is yet undiscovered terroir waiting to be explored. I learned from Konstantinos Lazarakis MW that the great Malagousia grape variety originates from the region described below.
Thestia is a winery located in the village Kainourio in Aitoloakarnania, one of the largest prefectures in Greece, in the western part of Central Greece. The region is covered with many lakes and rivers, which together with the topography form a unique setting. The climate is marked by hot summers and mild winters in the lower lying areas, but the mountainous areas experience cool winters with snow. The region has higher rainfall, higher humidity and not as much heat as the other prefectures of Central Greece.
The village of Kainourio lies at Lake Trichonda, which is the largest natural lake in Greece. The Panaitoliko Mountain Range is close by. Thestia was founded in 1998, and 11 ha of vineyards are planted with the Greek varieties Malagousia, Assyrtiko and Mavrodaphne, as well as the international varieties Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.
Following are my notes on 4 of their wines that I tasted recently:
Thestia Sauvignon Blanc 2009 12.5% alcohol
Light lemon colour with green tinges. Forthcoming nose of green apples mixed with tropical fruits like mango and papaya. Medium bodied with a buttery texture, good acidity and a lot of ripe fruits, also pear clearly detectable. This finishes well and keeps lingering on. Misses some depth, but is well made and offers easy and fresh drinking.
Thestia Malgousia 2009 13% alcohol
Very light watery lemon colour. Has a solid and open nose witharomas of white exotic fruits, peaches and a touch of fresh green pepper. Medium bodied on the palate with high levels of acidity, quite exotic. A harmonious wine, although slightly one-dimensional. The acidity makes this lively and very enjoyable..
Thestia Merlot/Cabernet Frank 2008 12.5% alcohol
Medium deep red cherry colour. Aromas of chocolate, cocoa, red fruits, dark wood, pleasantly fresh. Medium bodied on the palate, with soft tannins and a matching acidity, balanced and very fruit driven. An elegant wine, with an obvious strive to capture the pure fruit, very pleasant drinking.
Thestia Syrah 2008 12.5% alcohol
Medium deep bright red cherry colour with violet tinges. Spicy and peppery on the nose, with dark forest fruits, and an attractive slightly burned undertone. Light to medium bodied with soft tannins and medium to high acidity. Has concentrated fruit, the burned character is also noticeable on the palate. Has a descent length with a pleasant aftertaste that keeps lingering on.
What stood out for me was that the different wines showed a consistent level of quality and also shared similar characteristics: The alcohol level was on the lower side – how many Syrah wines are out there with 12.5 % alcohol? The focus is clearly to bring out the fruit, and although the wines lack some depth, they are by no means simple. They offer a lot of enjoyment, these are wines I would gladly drink on their own, but they will also enhance many food dishes. One sip lets you long for the next one, not because you wish to philosophise about the wine, but because they are simply delicious to drink. In a world that is currently experiencing a shift away from heavy, tannic wines towards more elegant styled, unpretentious ones, these wines are well positioned.