Moving away from the most famous wine regions, another small yet unique area of viticulture is waiting to be explored, through this excellent 2013 Icarus Black Dry Red Fokiano. In Greek mythology, Icarus, the son of the great craftsman Daedalus, fell into the sea close to a beautiful Greek island on the eastern Aegean Sea. This is how the island, Icaria (a.k.a. Ikaria) gained its name.

This seems to have set the tone for the viticulture and winemaking in the island: long history. Wine made in Ikaria was called the ‘Pramnian’ which is associated with the God Dionysus. In fact, archeological discoveries in modern days unveiled traces of the widespread Dionysian rituals in the island. This ancient winemaking method, did not use stainless steel containers or oak barrels but stored wines in huge clay jars which were buried in the ground. This tradition is still well-preserved in the world nowadays, and can be found in areas such as Georgia, where winemaking techniques have been serenely yet vividly passed on for several thousands of years.

In spite of this long history, however, it was not until the 1970s that the grape variety Fokiano was allowed to be cultivated on the island. The first geographical indication of Ikaria in wine came in 2006. To some extent, one could regard the story of winemaking in Ikaria as the Greek winemaking history in a nutshell: glorious history, late revivals lagging behind its Mediterranean peers, and innovative approaches attempting to adapt to the modern wine world.

The 2013 Icarus Black Dry Red Fokiano, as a PGI wine of Ikaria, is made from 100% Fokiano grapes grown on the island. Besides the benefits of the Mediterranean climate, the vineyards located on the Ikarian highland also make full use of the cool temperature for their vine growing. The winery still follows the traditional winemaking techniques of the island and ferments wines in their clay jars that are buried underground, giving visitors a “piece” of heritage to experience. Meanwhile, as we wrote earlier, winemakers in Greece are proactively seeking new ways to fit their traditional recipes into the international standards of  the modern wine industry. Boutique producers, organic methods, small production and oak barrels, are all the trendy elements that have enabled the development of this wine so as to release its charm. The fact that around 800 bottles a year are produced definitely makes this one rare and quite special.

In the glass, this wine has a clear and bright pale garnet colour, indicating its development stage as a matured wine. On the nose, it firstly releases aromas of red berries, then toast and vanilla of the oak barrel, mingled with cigar, leather and slightly gamey notes. Let it sit for a few more minutes, and you will also get hints of soy sauce and sea wind, reminding you of some savoury notes that are usually associated with umami. In a word, perfectly developed. On the palate, this wine has high acidity, delicate tannins with a medium body. It is slightly gamey and savoury, yet more fruity comparing to the aromas on the nose (red cherries, white pepper and dried dates), with a long finish. Complex and well balanced, this elegant wine can be seen as a thin version of the aged French Pinot Noir.

The wine is probably at its best stage to drink, and I do not suggest ageing it. It is best served at 16-18°C, in a large globe Burgundy style glass, without decanting. Just like Pinot Noir, this one can be paired with a wide range of foods, from tuna, chicken, duck or rabbit, to lamb, pork and beef. On top of that, BBQ or roasted food with spices such as rosemary and thyme will also taste great with the wine.

References:

http://www.natenadze.company/history-of-georgian-wine.html

https://afianeswines.gr/en/

 

by Celine


As a wine writer, one of my favourite moments is when people share their thoughts on the wines I’d previously recommended to them. Wine lovers from all over the world always enjoy talking and writing to each other, exchanging ideas and thoughts on wines. And this happened this week and brought me a considerable amount of joy. A colleague of mine, with whom I keep in touch only online, usually talking about tasting notes, took a cruise trip to Santorini earlier this year. He tasted the wonderful Gavalas Santorini as well as the Gavalas Voudomato. When I asked what he thought of these wines, he said “ Awesome, indeed.”

Awesome, indeed. This is also my comment about this 2016 Gavalas Voudomato. Romantic colour, crispy acidity, and fresh red berry aromas. We can say this is an excellent piece of art, refreshing as a white wine, but also with the red-fruit flavours of red wine.

On the label, Gavalas Voudomato also demonstrates the geographic indication (GI) of PGI Cyclades. Cyclades is a group of islands in the Aegean sea and include islands such as Naxos and Santorini. For a wine to be qualified as PGI Cyclades, grapes for winemaking must be 100% from this area, and vineyards are required to be located above 30 meters of altitude. The name ‘Voudomato’ is taken from the grape variety, as the wine is made from 100% Voudomato grapes. Gavalas winery has become the only one in Santorini to cultivate ‘the indigenous rare’ variety of Voudomato.

Just in case you do not know how rosé wine is produced in the winery, here is a little review. Normally, there are three methods in rosé winemaking, none of which involves the use of an oak barrel. This is why the rosé wines available at the market are all refreshing for summer, and do not benefit remarkably from aging. The first and also the cheapest method is blending red wine with white wine. Such approach usually can be found only in the new world, as it is forbidden in Europe. The second one follows the process of red winemaking, but only shortens the time of maceration depending the winemaker. Therefore, in theory, this method can result in a wide range of styles, and is able to produce a rosé that is unlimitedly close to a red wine. Such method is prevailing in the Southern Rhone Valley, France. The last one which produces some of the most delicate rosés in the world, is more predominant in South France and Provence. It crushes black grapes as if it were white ones, and thus follows a white winemaking process.

The 2016 Gavalas Voudomato follows the third approach, but also has a pre-fermentation skin contact which is also used in some white winemaking to extract more colour and body. In light of this, it is definitely a rosé with character. In the glass it shows a clear, bright and pale ruby colour, just like a glass of cranberry juice, but also like a glass of pure sea water being dyed with red rose petals. On the nose, it has pungent aromas of apple juice, accompanied by notes of fresh strawberry, raspberry and violet. On the palate, it has a crispy acidity, light to medium body, medium alcohol, a touch of tannins, and mouthfuls of flavours of raspberry, pomegranate and strawberry. The finish is medium-long and full of minerals.

The wine is ready to drink. It is best consumed at the temperature of 8-12°C, and with savoury foods. Light cheeses, dishes with poultry or seafood in tomato sauce are ideal pairings. To be honest, as a rosé of 2016 vintage, well developed and fresh as it is, this wine is not suitable to age any longer, so drink more, and drink now.

by Celine

References:

http://www.newwinesofgreece.com/lista_oinon_pge_perifereiakon_enotiton/en_pgi_cyclades.html


Youthful and fruity, the well-structured 2017 Sant’ Or Krasis presents a classic Bordeaux style with unique Greek grape varieties. I am deeply surprised that a red wine with the vintage of 2017 has already developed to that extent.

Produced in Santameri, Greece, this wine is made from the local grape variety Mavrodaphne, a grape that was mostly often used in producing sweet or fortified wines. Nowadays, however, modern winemaking philosophies and approaches have contributed to the reinvention of oak-matured Mavrodaphne, as is the case of this wine.

The town of Santameri sits in the mountainous area in north-west Peloponnese Peninsula. Generally, wine lovers may be more familiar with the other two famous Denomination of Origin appellations in the peninsula: Nemea and Martina, both situating in the eastern side and enjoying a slightly more ‘continental’ climate for viticulture. Santameri, in contrast, is located in the Patras region where the climate is definitely more ‘Mediterranean’. This means that the long and dry summers with short and rainy winters have created warm climate conditions with relatively small temperature variations, ideal for the Mavrodaphne grapes to grow and ripe. As a result, the wine usually displays distinctive aromas of ripe dark fruits.

The wax seal of the bottle may add extra points to attract your attention. Just in case you are not sure how to open a wax-sealed bottle, here is a tip: Pretend the wax does not exist and use the corkscrew as usual. But make sure to spend a few seconds clearing the wax pieces around the very top bit of the bottle before you pull the cork out, so as to avoid small pieces falling in the wine as the cork is coming out.

At first glance, you may easily find out that this is a very youthful wine, for it has a clear and bright deep purple colour with blue-ish hints in the purple rim. The viscosity is high. On the nose, it exhibits clean and intense aromas of ripe fruits such as black cherry and black plum. Following these initial aromas, the wine also has noticeable traces of oak barrel: toast, cocoa, toffee and tobacco. Gently swirling the glass, the wine also releases notes of wood, cedar box and a very small amount of hay. This suggests that the wine is in a developing stage, in spite of the youthful colour it shows. On the palate, this wine is dry, with high acidity, smooth firm tannins, medium alcohol level and a medium body. The finish is long. The intense flavours it brings include ripe black cherry, cigar, wood, toast, cocoa, and dark chocolate. It is slightly savoury, and shows characteristics of a developing wine. Combining with the outstanding flavours of a cigar box this wine reminds me of a typical red Bordeaux, and also surprises me for the range of flavours it has, considering that it is a 2017 vintage.

This wine is ready to drink, but may benefit from another 1 or 2 years of bottle maturation. It is best served at 18 – 20°C, in a large tulip shape glass. For such a youthful wine with firm tannins, I suggest to decant it for at least 10 minutes. This wine is suitable to drink on its own, but also will be fantastic to pair with grilled red meat, game dishes, and tomato-based sauces, for example with pasta.

 

By Celine


2016 Markou Kleftes Savatiano Sulphur Free, 12.5%

How much do we know about natural wine? In the April issue of Decanter magazine last year, the rise of natural wines was brought to the attention of wine consumers. The ‘trend’ of drinking natural wine is gradually becoming a matter of lifestyle for many enthusiastic wine lovers.

So, what exactly is the natural wine? How different is it from the wines we are used to drinking? According to the Oxford Companion to Wine, what we call natural wine is a relative rather than an absolute term. It differentiates these types of wine according to the winemaking processes (or philosophies). Typically, the grapes are grown by small-scale, independent producers, they are harvested by hand from sustainable, organic, or biodynamic vineyards. The wine is fermented without any extra yeasts (meaning only the natural yeasts existing on the grapes are used) or additives, and little or no sulfites are added for refining. This definition, unfortunately, indicates that the term “natural wine” is quite vague and we have to uncover in what specific ways a bottle of such wine is indeed “natural”.

The 2016 Kleftes from Markou Vineyards, is a sulfur dioxide (SO2) free wine made from grapes grown in organic vineyards in the Koropi area of Attica, Greece. The name “Kleftes” in Greek is also the name for dandelion seeds, which carry your thoughts and dreams to the loved ones and present hope, dream, and the uncertainty of a new journey. If you have read our earlier wine review about Shinopefko Retsina in this blog, you will find that this wine is made with the same grape variety, from the same region as the retsina. In this case, what can we expect from a sulphite free wine to taste differently?

Normally, sulfur dioxide in winemaking is necessary to preserve the wine from oxidation and to refine the wine by preventing bacteria and unwanted yeasts. This is the same element as you may find in dried fruits from supermarkets. Without sulphite, Kleftes is obviously more oxidised and displays more characteristics of oxidation. In the glass, it shows a slightly hazy yet bright gold colour with a lemon rim. On the nose, the wine has moderate aromas led by cooked apple, ripe pear and citrus flowers. Swirl the glass gently, it may also reveal some notes of roasted nuts and honey. There is no hint of the oak barrel. On the palate, it is dry, with crisp acidity, light body  and relatively low alcohol level. The flavour intensity is high, dominated by tastes of grape fruit, citrus flowers and crushed apple, accompanied by a long finish.

The wine is best drunk around 8-10 °C, which is about 5-10 minutes after being taken out from the fridge. Because it is sulphite free, it is not an ideal wine for aging. To prevent the oxidation, my suggestion is to consume this wine as soon as possible. It is a good wine to pair with food such as fried fish pie, green salad, or risotto with asparagus and parmesan cheese. An amazing pairing with wild capers, fava and bread.

Click here to buy the Markou Kleftes Savatiano!

by Celine

References: Oxford Companion to Wine


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.

Buy the Island’s rose 

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)