Discovering Greek Wine

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At Fine WIne in Plaka

On a chilly Athenian afternoon our Discover Greek Culture tour group settled at a table adorned with cheese plates, baby tomatoes, dried figs, fresh bread and olive oil – not to eat but to discover Greek wines. We were about to start a wine tasting in the historic district of Plaka, surrounded by shelves lined with wine bottles glinting under a few lights. The wine shop’s owner, Sophia Sousouni, set out wine glasses revealing she was a Greek journalist turned sommelier.

“Yes,” she nods, smiling. “I just fell in love with the world of Greek wines.”

She said that the Greek world of wine includes many wine appellations. An appellation is also known as AOC, a French abbreviation from appellation d’origine contrôlée or the controlled designation of origin. An AOC is a protected wine growing region and Sousouni added that Greece’s appellations feature excellent soil and microclimates to produce fine wines. That fact inspired her to name her shop Fine Wine. Bespoke tours like Discover Greek Culture bring her a captive audience interested and excited to learn about the growing wine industry in Greece.

Sophia Sousouni, Owner of Fine Wine

“I like to emphasize on Greek native grape varieties while suggesting both white and red grape varieties from the most interesting geographical regions and appellations.”

First on the list was a wine from the Greek island of Santorini created from the island’s native grape varieties of Assyrtiko and Aidani. She poured it out from a pretty royal blue bottle labeled Gavalas 2013. With aromas of pear and lemon, it turned out to have an exceptionally pleasant, smooth and fruity taste.

WInes to taste

Next, Sousouni poured out a bright yellow colored wine called Semeli Mantinia Nassiakos made from the Moschofilero grape variety grown in the AOC of Mantinia. The taste was bright too, full bodied and fruity with notes of lemon.

As I sipped a bit more Moschofilero, Sousouni frowned as she admitted that fine wine was something that most people around the globe don’t associate with her country.

“Greek wine never formed a global identity to build a significant wine industry so most people don’t take Greek wines seriously.”

Sousouni explained that Greece never organized a collective effort to export wines and promote them. The focus was typically on low quality house wine and retsina which is a traditional wine flavored with pine resin. A sort of acquired taste, she added kindly. As a result, wine lovers never had an opportunity, until recent years, to appreciate Greek wines. However, she noted, there has been progress.

“I cannot underestimate the value of Greek ecologists and wine makers, who made serious steps forward in producing better wines over the past two decades. So, here we are today.”

With that statement she presented a rose wine labeled Adoli Gi Antonopoulos 2013, a semi-dry wine that hailed from the Peloponnese and made with cabernet sauvignon. It had aromas of strawberry and cherry. I found it sweet and agreed with Sousouni’s term for it: well-balanced.

We moved onto the reds sampling a deep red colored merlot called Gianakohori Last Vintage 2011. Not the biggest fan of reds, I knew the odds were that I wouldn’t like it much as my Moschofilero. However, the red wine, from the xinomavro grape variety, was dry, in a pleasant way, and soft with strong aromas of cherry, plum and vanilla.  I loved it. I had discovered a Greek merlot I truly liked.

I wasn’t alone. To a chorus of “oohs and aahs” our tour group toasted to the lovely red and Sousouni’s fine wine choices for us. Sousouni responded with a wide smile and poured us more wine.

“Greek wines are special. It’s a pleasure to present them because whoever tastes them always enjoy them and they find them unique too. Greece has amazing fine wines waiting to be discovered.”

Lots o wine

 

Marissa was a guest of Discover Greek Culture tours. Half day food and wine tours start at 130 Euro. To learn more visit their website at www.discovergreekculture.gr

Native New Yorker Marissa Tejada is an author, writer and journalist based in Athens, Greece. Read more about Marissa on our About Us page!

2 Comments

  1. Bex

    February 16, 2015 at 9:34 pm

    What a wonderful way to discover Greek wines! Such an interesting concept – thanks for sharing.

  2. Pingback: in athens: discovering greek wines | My Greece My Travels

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