Greek Retsina

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

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