Fay Xiao
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Greek Wine: The New Old World

Often described as the “New Old World”, Greek wine combines both the terroir of the Old World and the climate of the New World.

greek-wine-MAINBeing one of the birthplaces of wine, its wine production history goes back to as early as 3500 BC. But unfortunately much is lost and only recently it has seen a new resurrect of this glorious past in wine culture and started to gain momentum internationally.

At the Greek Wine Masterclass presented by Ms. Corinne Mui, Greek Wine Ambassador and COO of AWSEC (HK-based wine education institute) during Vinexpo, Mui covered the winemaking history, climate and geography of major Greek wine regions, and guided the participants through a flight of 6 representative wines from Greece (mostly made with indigenous varieties).

There are more than 200 Greek grape varieties, out of which 50 are commercially significant. Currently, the Greek wine appellation system consists of more than 70 PDO and PGI zones. Key varieties include Moschofilero (white) from Mantinia, Assyrtiko (white) from Santorini, Agiorgitiko (red) from Nemea and Xinomavro (red) from Naoussa.

Moschofilero is a “grey” grape variety which looks pinkish (similar to Pinot Grigio) and used only for making white wines. It is distinguished for its freshness, vivid yet delicate aromas – very floral, full of rose petals and citrus flowers, crisp acidity and relatively low alcohol content (in a sense quite Moscato-like).

Assyrtiko, on the other hand, is much more structured. It is one of the most known Greek grape varieties internationally (thanks to the booming tourism of Santorini) and displays the signature high acidity no matter where it’s planted (the acidity is on a par with that of a cool climate Riesling!). Its aromas are reminiscent of green apple, white peach, minerals, metals and crushed seashells, accompanied often by a nervy structure and high alcohol content.

As for the red varieties, Agiorgitiko is so far the most abundant and widely recognised red variety. It produces medium to full bodied wines of deep colour, relatively smooth texture and intense nose of red fruits such as sour wild cherry and raspberry. It is also known for its ability to pair beautifully with oak, adding fragrances of sweet spices, coffee and chocolate to the wine when it matures.

Meanwhile, Xinomavro (sometimes considered the Pinot Noir or Nebbiolo of Greece) is nobly defined by its high level of dry tannins and soaring acidity, which makes it a wine with great ageing potential.

 

The 6 wines tasted at the Masterclass were:

  1. Mantinia Tselepos 2015, Moschofilero, PDO Mantinia
  2. Santo Wines – Santorini Assyrtiko Grande Reserve 2013, Assyrtiko, PDO Santorini
  3. Microclima Papaioannou 2005, Agiorgitiko, PDO Nemea
  4. Ramnista Kir – yianni 2012, Xinomavro, PDO Naoussa
  5. Chateau Porto Carras 2006, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon-30% Cabernet Franc-20% Limnio, PDO Meliton Slopes
  6. Samos Vin Doux 2015, White Small Berried Muscat, PDO Samos

 

Without doubt, there’s still much to be learnt and discovered. Therefore the Greek government has created a Greek Wine Brochure (64 pages) and a Greek Wine Book (144 pages), both written by Mr. K. Lazarakis MW, to better equip the trade and the press in further understanding Greek wines. Both the brochure and the book will be translated into Chinese and then distributed free to the professionals late June.

As Yorgos Papapanayotou, the Manager of Wine Trade Promotion Department from Enterprise Greece puts it, “It may strike you as surprising that we Greeks haven’t made much of a fuss about our wines, even though we’re proud of them and consider them world class. We prefer to work steadily and constantly at developing and improving them, while pricing them reasonably from one year to the next.”

“We don’t ask you to simply take our word for the above. We invite you to taste our wines for yourself. We feel you’ll be impressed by the diversity of terroirs expressed through these wines as well as the unique personality of our indigenous grape varieties.”

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