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¬įC and 10¬įC 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‚Äôs 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: ‚ÄúCooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.‚ÄĚ 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 or follow this link 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 ‚Äúpairing rules‚ÄĚ 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 ‚Äúcut through‚ÄĚ cheese‚Äôs 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‚Äôs 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‚ÄúWines of North Greece‚ÄĚ. 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‚ā¨ entrance fee (or 5‚ā¨ 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‚Äôs no doubt it‚Äôs 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 ‚ÄúGreek Nebbiolo‚ÄĚ 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‚Äôt 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!


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 ros√©, 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 ‚Äúquintessential Greek‚ÄĚ grilled seafood such as red mullet.

Agiorgitiko ‚Äď 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.