This week, our wine writer Celine tastes the 2016 Moraitico Rosé, 11.5% and shares it with us.
Taste this unique wine from the island of Paros, along with other Aegean Island wines –and food pairings! at our September Wine Tasting.

 

Nothing goes better on a sunny and hot summer day than a light and fruity rosé.

You may have heard about the benchmark set by the refreshing and light-bodied Bandol rosé from Provence, with its romantic color as well as the elegant flavours on the palate. Just imagine having a wonderful holiday by the Mediterranean sea and leisurely sipping a glass of this zesty drink. If that sounds like you, then you cannot miss this 2016 Island Rosé produced by Moraitico winery.

The winery Moraitico is located on the island of Paros in Greece, on the Aegean sea, southeast of the Greek mainland. Just like Santorini, this windy and mountainous island has a hot and dry Mediterranean climate that contributes to the tropical fruit notes of the wine. Thanks to the cooling effect of the mountain slopes and the strong wind during the growing season, grapes are able to ripe slowly and accumulate the balanced amount of sugar and acidity. This is the reason why crispy and refreshing wines come from this region.

Generally, rosé wines can be made following three different methods, very rarely involving the use of oak barrels. For some inexpensive New World wines, red wines and white wines (not grapes) will be blended to make a rosé. Another way of rosé winemaking, is to shorten the maceration period- compared to normal winemaking of dry red wines. Depending on how much colour and tannins the producer plans to extract, the length of this maceration period varies. Hence the unique colour and taste of the rose wine. The last method is direct pressing, which crushes and presses black grapes, but in the same way as when making white wines rather than red wines. This avoids the extraction of colour and tannins that are necessary in red wine production. As a result, a more delicate colour is usually achieved.

Two local grape varieties are used in this rosé. Malagouzia (aka. Malagousia) is gaining popularity throughout Greece after being rescued from extinction in the 1970s. It is a versatile variety that can make both dry and sweet white wines. The other grape, Mavrotragano, is a dark-skinned black variety that has been traditionally used to produce sweet red wine. This variety has thick skins and small berries, leading to deep-colored wine but with soft tannins.

The Island’s Rosé demonstrates a graceful colour between pink grapefruit and salmon, and has exquisite aromas including grapefruit, melon, peach, red rose, and some hints of grape — just like the Muscat grapes you may get from the market. On the palate it is dry with high acidity, with low alcohol and light body. The flavours of grapefruit and tropical fruit stand out, surrounded by other fruity notes such as melon, rose, and the Muscat grapes. Although some sweetness may be felt in the beginning, this rose has a very citrusy finish. As a dry wine, the sweetness seems to be a result of its intense flavours of tropical fruit, just as what a ripe Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc may present.

Overall it is a very fruity and light rosé wine. It is not complicated but excellently refreshing, undoubtedly the greatest match for this summer. It is best drunk at 8-12°C, approximately 10 minutes after being taken out of your fridge. This wine can be paired with a wide range of dishes, including light salads and seafood. Squeeze some grapefruit and olive oil dressing on your lightly cooked or cured salmon, tuna or lobster and accompany it with this wine. You will find that a hot summer’s day will become more pleasant than ever.

References:
wine-search.com
Vivino.com

 


Aegean Sea in a Bottle

No other wine has ever impressed me so much at first sight. This Gavalas Santorini truly brings the Aegean Sea in a bottle. The beautiful sunshine and blue sea from Santorini can brightened up your entire day.

The island of Santorini has been long famous amongst tourists for its picturesque views. This stunning beauty also exists in its wines. As one of the 25 OPAP (Oenoi Onomasias Proelefseos Anoteras Poititas or Appellation d’Origine de Qualité Supérieure, one of the terms for the Greek PDO labelling system), Santorini produces both white and red wines in dry and sweet style.

Ancient volcano eruptions have not only created its cliffs and lagoons, but also the volcanic soil for grape vines. It is this volcanic soil that has prevented the spread of phylloxera from other parts of Europe, and thus maintained the old vines that give wine of great quality. Meanwhile, the climate in Santorini has contributed significantly to its terroir. It is normally dry and warm like what you would find in a desert during the growing season, with sweeping westerly winds. Such winds are so strong that photosynthesis of the plants can stop and consequently slows down the ripening process of the grapes. To protect the vines from the wind, vine growers here follow the tradition of cultivating the vines in wide spaces and shaping them into crown-like spirals.

Assyritko is the flagship among the grape varieties on the island, as it takes up almost 83% of all the grapes being cultured in Santorini. It is a local variety of which 99% is planted in Greece nowadays. Santorini Assyrtiko is the most famous as the special growing environment has given high levels of sugar and of acidity. This versatile variety can be made for both dry and sweet wines.

The Gavalas Santorini vintage of 2016 is a crisp and well matured dry wine. In the glass it has a clear and pale lemon and straw-like colour, indicating that the wine has started its developing stage in terms of aging. On the nose, the perfumed wine presents profound fruity aromas such as pear, lemon, pineapple and slightly banana. It is a little flinty, but will be soon covered by its dominating notes of nut and honey, which is another hint of its aging development. On the palate it is crispy and refreshing. As one of the very few white wines that contains tannins, its tannins are rather smooth and rounded. This is also a full-bodied wine, with a moderate alcohol level and a long and nutty finish.

The wine is ready to drink, best served chilled at 8-10°C, in a globe shaped glass that is usually for Burgundy red wine. Decanting is needed to soften the tannins, but it will also enhance the honey and nut flavours in the wine. This wine is perfect to pair with seafood, such as fried fishcake, crab cake, slightly smoked mackerel fillet or pan-fried scallops. It also tastes great with white meat, light cheese, and even Korean seafood pancakes. It may not be the typical wine for summer, but definitely suits the beginning of spring days in London!

 References used: Wine-searcher.com

 


Today we are going to have a closer look at the Douloufakis Dafnios Liatiko produced on the Island of Crete, Greece. Vintage of 2015. The grape variety, Liatiko, usually has very dark skin and is traditionally used to make both dry and sweet wines.

Douloufakis Dafnios Liatiko is a dry red wine made from 100% of the Liatiko grape variety. This species once had great importance to winemakers in Crete dating back to the Middle Ages. Nowadays, however, only a few producers are making wines from Liatiko. This is why we are very lucky to have this one!

Located at the southern edge of the Aegean Sea, Crete is the largest island of Greece. The island has a Mediterranean climate, yet there can be significant differences between the coastal and the mountainous areas within the island. There is a drop of 6°C in temperature with every 1000m increase in altitude. Therefore, in hot regions like Crete, grape vines enjoy a cooler growing environment and better air circulation if the vineyards are on mountainous slopes. When it comes to the soil in Crete, this is normally rich in limestone, with variation in the portions of loam and clay. Limestone, together with the slopes, provide good drainage to the vines and thus contribute to the flavour concentration of the grape berries.

Crete saw the prevalence of modern winemaking in the 1970’s, and has four PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) appellations today: Peza, Arhanes, Dafnes and Sitia. Among these appellations, Dafnes is located in central Crete, is the only one that specializes in the Liatiko. All Dafnes PDO wines must be 100% Liatiko. And so is the wine we are presenting today.

The producer, the Douloufakis family has been dedicated to wine production since the 1930s. The winemaking traditions and philosophy has been greatly preserved and passed on. The winery has vineyards situated in hill slopes at the altitude of 350 meters in Dafnes.

The 2015 Douloufakis Dafnios Liatiko perfectly presents everything you may expect from what has been mentioned above. It has a beautiful pale ruby colour with a garnet and orange edge. On the nose it has ripe red fruits such as strawberry and red cherry, with notes of toast, sweet cinnamon and caramel – hints of oak barrel. On the palate it is savoury and spicy, with a good acidity, between medium to full body, and outstanding tannins. It has an elegant release of its alcohol and relatively long finish, echoing the note of tobacco. Believe it or not, such a flavour profile just reminds me of a very excellent Barolo.

This wine is better served around 20°C — slightly higher than room temperature, in a large tulip shape glass. Decanting absolutely helps to soften the tannins and achieve a more rounded taste on your palate. With its complex and developing flavour profile, this wine goes well with duck, goose, or other gamy birds. It can also pair with salami or even pizza.

 

By Celine


2016 Markou Vineyard Schinopeuko Retsina, 12%

Deeply influenced by the Mediterranean climate, Greece has hot summers with rare rainfalls. Due to the mountainous terrain and rock soils, Greece’s vineyard management and winemaking has followed many traditional yet unique paths.

When we ask what is special about Greek wines, we may want to start with Retsina.

What is Retsina? It is an ancient way of winemaking. Wine was made with the addition of pine resin, and thus carries distinct characteristics. Such winemaking tradition can be traced back to the 2nd Century BC, and is now making a glamorous come back. Normally, Retsina can be produced almost everywhere in the country. One finds it mostly in Attica, at the eastern edge of Central Greece. Under the European Union labeling system, Retsina has its own term of Appellation Traditionnelle, and presents itself as a PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) wine.

The 2016 Markou Vineyard Schinopeuko Retsina is made from 100% of Savatiano, the mostly planted white grape variety that can be easily found around Athens. The grape variety has outstanding resistance to drought and disease, and thus has been cultivated in this region for hundreds of years. Good quality Savatino grapes are able to produce herbaceous dry white wines with notes of citrus and white flowers. In order to make a brilliant Retsina, a small amount of fine resin is added during the fermentation of this wine. The resin is extracted immediately afterwards, but works remarkably in enriching its flavour.

This is a very youthful wine. In glass it shows a clear and pale lemon colour, with a hint of lemon green on the rim. Being gently swirled, it releases intense aromas of fresh lime, pine needles, a slight hint of lavender, and the pleasant notes of fresh wet leaves in a forest after rain. On the palate it is very citrusy and intense, releasing the flavors of the pine resin and quickly developing into a crispy and refreshing mixture of lime peels and rosemary. Its alcohol content is actually low, but feels slightly higher due to the flavours that were extracted from the pine resin. With a very long and piny finish, the aftertastes magically reminds you of sushi rice – the smell of steamed rice mixed with the perfect amount of sushi vinegar. Overall, the flavour profile is not complex. But it has everything you expect from the moment you see it.

The wine will be best drank cool between 8°C and 10°C served in a tulip shape glass. While traditionally Retsina is frequently paired with fried zucchini, fried fish or stuffed vegetables, this wine can also go well with smoked salmon with fresh lemon juice dressing. With the amazing aftertaste of sushi rice, it also tastes fantastic with tuna or salmon sashimi, but not necessarily sushi (with the gluten from rice the wine may become metallic on your palate).

In a hot summer day nothing treats you better than this catchy Retsina. But you definitely can enjoy it anytime. It is so refreshing that you may always replace your Mojito with it.

By Celine T.

References:
http://www.independent.co.uk/extras/indybest/food-drink/wine/best-greek-wine-listregions-producers-varieties-food-white-retsina-waitrose-a8124346.html
http://winefolly.com/review/retsina-wine-making-surprising-comeback


Happy Valentine’s Day dear Oliveologists! We wish you a glorious day full of love, affection and delightful treats! We are firm believers of this quote by Harriet van Horn: “Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.” As we keep finding ways to introduce you to food and wine combinations, we could not forget this divine combination: wine and chocolate.

What if the love potion is actually a combination of wine and chocolate? This blogpost is about two of my favourite foods and how to pair them. Both are fascinating, complex foods, promising special sensory experiences. Terroir is extremely important in both of them; still they’re not sharing terroir.  Most cacao trees are grown in West Africa, Asia, and South America. Specifically, Brazil and Ecuador are producing most of the South American cacao. The terroir of the wines we will be suggesting is mostly Greek, with few international grape varieties, as well.

Wine and chocolate are both synonymous to luxury, uniqueness and closely associated with romance. According to researchers, chocolate has aphrodisiac qualities as it contains a number of compounds associated with pleasure, well-being, and excitement, such as phenylethylamine and anandamide. Did you know that chocolate has tannins? No surprise that most tannins are found in dark chocolate.

According to sommeliers there are few rules regarding chocolate desserts, according to which, ideally they are paired with sweet red wines, aged with full body and velvety texture. The outstanding aromas of cacao and chocolate can be found in wines that aged in barrels, high in alcohol and sweet.

As far as Greek wine is concerned, we love pairing dark chocolate with dry Mavrodafni from Patras. This local grape variety gives deep coloured wines with an intricate aromatic character, that becomes even more complex while ageing and maturing. Aromas of ripe red fruits are combined with the aromas of spices, tobacco and herbs. Let’s not forget the brilliant pairing with aged Goumenissa, and with the international varieties Syrah and Cabernet.

If you prefer milk chocolate, pair it with Muscat of Alexandria. Moscato wine is well known for its sweet flavours of peach, orange blossom and nectarine. The name originates from Italy, but the Muscat grape may be one of the oldest cultivated varieties in the world. Especially when fruits are dipped in a milk chocolate sauce, this Muscat or Muscat Hamburg (Black Muscat) is a glorious pair. A creamy dessert would ask for a Samos Muscat, a Malagouzia, and the international Viognier.

White chocolate is brilliant with Vinsanto, a naturally sweet white wine from sun dried grapes grown in Santorini. Think of sweet spices like cinnamon and cloves going towards dried fruits such as apricots and raisins. Muscat of Lemnos, but also a white Muscat Spinas from Crete, are great choices, as well. Moscato d Asti and soft Sherrys are a great choice for this buttery and sweet type of chocolate.

Join us at Borough Market today and find our selection of rare, unique wines and discover more about this ancient elixir!


We are in the midst of winter and cheese and wine pairings are our go-to way to entertain. We are here for those of you who want to try new flavours and texture combinations or understand how to create a fun cheese platter. Let us take you through some “pairing rules” as well as highlight important factors that you need to consider. Each case is followed with few examples in order to inspire you to taste new flavours.

-As a general rule, white wine is easier to pair with cheese than red. A cool white wine with strong acidity and fresh scents will “cut through” cheese’s natural richness.
Take Metsovone, a PDO Greek cheese or  Smoked Graviera for example, a smoked cheese from Crete, just in at our shop at Borough Market-look for an aromatic white or a red that will bring out its bold flavour. This cheese is brilliant with a barrel fermented Assyrtiko. When gloriously melted, an aged Xinomavro (or a Ximonavro blend) will be a great contrast -and match-to your Metsovone, especially when paired with sausages and garlicky potatoes.

-Red wine pairs mostly with hard aged cheese. It’s not just the texture but also the aromatic and flavour complexity of an aged cheese that asks for something bold and full bodied as a partner.
Graviera is a PDO cheese produced in various parts of Greece, the main of which are: Crete, Agrafa and Naxos. We would pair the one from Naxos -produced exclusively from cow’s milk- with Agiorgitiko. On the other hand, the one from Crete -made from sheep’s milk or sheep’s and goat’s milk- with Xinomavro.

-Is the cheese cooked or not? The aromatic and flavour profile of a cheese changes and more layers are added. Are we grilling the cheese, pan-frying it (saganaki) or serving it as a soufflé?
Kaseri, a PDO cheese made from 100% goat’s milk, or Kefalotyri made with milk from the island of Evia are a great pair to Cretan Vidiano. In case we stuff red Florina peppers with it and have some rusks on the side we’re looking for a Cabernet Sauvignon blend.

-How can we approach the usual stars of cheese boards with a fresh eye?
Just when you think that you had parmesan with every single wine, you start wondering what this cheese is really looking for. Try pairing parmesan, pears and prosciutto with the aromatic Malagouzia for a truly unique combo.

-How do we pair blue cheeses?
Mavrodafni, a PDO fortified dessert wine is a beautiful companion to strong and spicy Stilton.
The famous dessert wine from Samos, Moschato with its aromas of apricot jam, overripe melon and butterscotch candy, is wonderful with Roquefort.

-Still wondering what to drink with feta?
The most popular Greek cheese loves retsina. Retsina finally makes a comeback to the wine world with a newfound vitality. It is the perfect choice when you’re feeling summery or wanting to bring some warm sunshine a la table. For example, think no further when you decide to prepare a Greek salad or a Cretan dakos salad.

So many pairing rules, so little time! We’ll be back with more exciting flavour combinations and more Greek cheeses and wines, soon. In case you want to read our Greek wine related posts, follow the link.
Tweet us your cheese board and favourite pairings; we always love new ideas! Last but not least, do you find is there a wine or a cheese you struggle to pair with? We’re here to help!

by Lida P.

(photo by Amaryllis)

 


Voroina is organised annually by the winemakers and members of the wine producers association“Wines of North Greece”. The event features an impressive selection of indigenous and international grape varieties cultivated at the famous vineyards of the area.

It is a wonderful opportunity for Greek and foreign wine professionals and wine lovers of course, to meet with producers and taste wines as well as wine spirits. In the event context, a series of other events such as workshops, seminars, tastings and special dinners in restaurants or hotels took place, too. Voroina is a first class opportunity to watch the Sommelier of the Year 2017 competition, but that’s a whole different story.

This year, this brilliant trip to the region of North Greece culminated to the tasting event at Hilton Hotel on 30/01/2017. You might remember reading about its Cretan equivalent, Oinotika wine fair previously. With Greek wine on the rise, warm and exhilarating wine tasting events like this get really popular. This makes absolute sense since with an 8€ entrance fee (or 5€ for pre-registered visitors) the visitor can taste the best that 25 regional wineries have to offer. Especially, when it takes place at the central located Hilton hotel there’s no doubt it’s going to be a smashing success.

Wine producers are thought to be generous and charismatic and the Greek ones especially -if we may add- as they choose to go against all odds and create wonderful products with passion and ingenuity. The visitors seemed quite delighted and kept engaging in conversations with the producers mostly about the winemaking procedure as well as regarding food pairing.

The vineyards of Northern Greece, Drama, Kavala, Halkidiki, Goumenissa, Naoussa, Amynteo, Rapsani, Zitsa, Metsovo and other areas, cover a total of approximately 100,000 acres. These areas have many international varieties, producing some of the best wines from Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Syrah in Greece, but also indigenous varieties such as Debina, Savvatiano, Limnio. Topography, soil, climate, varieties are all the necessary ingredients to create a great wine that coexist harmoniously in North Greece.

The flagship variety of Macedonia is Xinomavro, the “Greek Nebbiolo” is considered aggressive, austere and complex. Its high acid, high tannin character as well as its vegetal, rose petaly and sun dried tomato aromas make it a brilliant food wine. This multifaceted variety can yield different types of wine. We are quite excited for the future as sommeliers contend that the variety hasn’t reached its full potential, yet.

White wines, rosés and reds, fresh and older vintages, varietals or blends, dry, sparkling and sweet, as well as wine spirits, were presented at the event, from internationally recognised to niche boutique producers, introducing their newest and finest selections.

We allowed ourselves to indulge in a number of other varieties as well, indigenous and international, always for research purposes, of course. While I am writing these lines, I am still smitten with the glorious wines I tasted. Beyond the classics, I highly recommend the following wines: Oneirikos (Malvasia aromatica) by Foundi Estate, Rapsani Grand Reserve 2010 (Xinomauro, Stavroto, Krasato) by Tsantali winery, Chrysogerakas (Gewurztraminer, Malagouzia) by Kyr Yianni winery.

We’re off to Peloponnese wine festival next, stay tuned!


On this blog we have mostly been writing about food. With the Greek wine culture in renaissance, we are really excited we can finally share these wonderful ancient elixirs with the world. So, we decided to start a series of blogposts focusing in this very subject sharing out knowledge and passion. On a previous blogpost we introduced you to four flagship Greek varieties, Assyrtiko, Moschofilero, Agiorgitiko and Xinomavro which are from Cyclades (Santorini), Peloponnese and Northern Greece.

This time we focus to another wine producing region, Crete. The main wine growing area in Crete are the mountain foothills behind the (capital of the island) Heraklion, which actually is the country’s second biggest wine producing zone. The region was nominated as Wine region of the year 2016 according to the prestigious Wine Enthusiast magazine along with Champagne, Provence and Sonoma County.

We find the magazine’s description of the region, to the point: One of the world’s oldest wine regions, dating back about 3,500 years, this Greek island has recently begun to gain international acclaim for its quality and affordable pricing. A Phylloxera outbreak followed by very limiting laws about which grapes could be planted held the region back, but it has solidly hit its stride with unique island wines and a burgeoning wine-tourism industry. Wines of Crete is a network including about 31 wineries, 27 of which export wine around the world.

According to the experts, Cretan wines are considered a great combination of value and intrigue and are on the rise both in Greece and abroad. The last 15 years are considered really important for the wineries of the region, as the new generation of producers revitalised and upgraded the production. Most of them were trained in important wineries across the world and share ambitious future plans. The Cretan production includes international varieties, as well as 11 indigenous varieties with a lot of potential including Vidiano and Thrapsathiri (white varieties), Liatiko, Mandilari and Kotsifali (red varieties) but forgotten varieties that are being rediscovered, as well. Oinotika, a Cretan wine fair organised by Wines of Crete at the Hotel Grand Bretagne on 30/10/2016, with 23 wineries across Crete and around 200 labels; destined for wine professionals and wine enthusiasts to discover Cretan varietals and blends. The fair was quite successful, with organisers counting around 1500 visitors. We noticed that most of them were young people, a quite encouraging fact we believe.

One of our favourite things about the fair was a table set up sampling different aromas and flavours one notices when tasting these special varieties, as well as the different soil that they grow on. This set up was really helpful in order to understand the Cretan terroir. In case you’re not familiar with this (mostly wine) term, it describes the complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced, including factors such as the soil, topography and climate.

Among others we tasted and highly recommend: Toplou Aged Syrah, an organic wine from the Toplou Estate (part of the Toplou Monastery), Melissokipos, an organic Kotsifali and Mandilari blend from Domaine Paterianaki as well as Skalani, an aged Kotsifali and Syrah blend from the Boutari winery. This post would be incomplete without a special mention for the appetising small barley rusks which were offered throughout the fair, a perfect snack while tasting all this glorious wine.

By Lida P.


Two weeks ago (8-9/10/16) we attended the London Greek Wine Festival, raising our glass to celebrate this brilliant event. Although Greece has been home to winemaking for over 6000 years and with more than 300 indigenous grape varieties; Greek wines have been underrated for decades.

However, there has been a shift in recent years and, it seems that finally, it’s their time to shine globally. This post will introduce you to four fascinating and unique indigenous varieties: Assyrtiko, Moschofilero, Agiorgitiko and Xinomavro and will inspire you to pair this ancient elixir with food.

Assyrtiko is a white grape variety, produced mainly in Santorini (PDO Santorini). It has a fresh, citrussy, mineral driven character with sea salt finish. It produces a dry white wine, but its multipurpose grapes can even extend to dessert wines. This variety is the ideal complement to haute cuisine, fish, seafood and, surprisingly, even meat dishes. We love it with grilled octopus, sardines as well as the classic Santorini-style fava beans.

Did you know? Assyrtiko is a rare case of white with tannins.

Moschofilero is a white grape variety, produced mainly in the Peloponnese (PDO Mantinia). It is an aromatic variety with surprising freshness, crisp acidity and wild floral intensity. It does not only make a still table wine but delicious rosé, sparkling and dessert wines. This exotic grape produces the perfect aperitif or complement to a wide variety of elegant dishes, Middle and Far East cuisine, sushi and seafood. We love it with all “quintessential Greek” grilled seafood such as red mullet.

Agiorgitiko – Nemea is a red grape variety, produced mainly in the Peloponnese (PDO Nemea). It has a deep, dark ruby colour, mid acidity and soft tannins. The range of wine styles include rich, complex, age worthy reds for the cellar; as well as light, easy drinking wines with the fresh aromas of red fruits. These captivating wines are exceptionally food friendly and you can even pair them with fish. We love it with a classic beef steak or with a slow roasted tomato-sauce stew (kokkinisto). Agiorgitiko grapes are also used to produce our wonderful Petimezi (Grape molasses)

Did you know? According to an ancient legend, the Nemea-Agiorgitiko grapes got their rich, dark colour and their soft and mysterious flavour from the blood of the lion that Hercules slew.

Xinomavro (Ksinomavro) is a red grape variety, produced in the Northern Greece (PDO Naoussa and PDO Amynteo). This intriguing variety can be difficult to cultivate. It has a deep red colour, a complex aromatic character including dried tomatoes and spices, high acidity and strong tannins. When the variety is expressed in wines, it is used in indigenous wine blends, as well as in rosés, including brilliant rustic ones and of course, it is exceptional when aged. This variety makes a great food pairing wine, ideal for food with intense and rich flavours. We love it with Northern Greece specialities like rabbit or game stew or simply with some smoked cheese.