Wines of Crete

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.

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