Wine Wednesday

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This is our third week of ‘Wine Wednesday’ and my husband and I are enjoying revisiting, rejoicing, and remembering our home in Greece through the wine we drink.  Today would prove a challenge for ‘Wine Wednesday’, as we left at sunrise to attend a dinner event in Toronto, Ontario.  A couple we are so close too that we do not consider them friends, but rather family.  We remember the time they came to visit us in Greece and the 2 weeks we stayed in Lesvos.  It was one of the best times that I ever had with visitors, and we have had many visitors the nearly 20 years we lived there.

I saw this as a great opportunity to continue with Wine Wednesday with a Muscat from Samos.  As we enter into the city, we pull into the LCBO store (Liquor Control Board of Ontario).  I am happy to find Kourtaki Muscat of Samos, Muscat Blanc a Petits Grains, on the shelf, and priced at 15.95, it is a bargain. The shelf talker sign states that in 2013  it received a score of 91 from Wine Spectator (Kim Marcus) .  I throw the bottle into my basket alongside a nice bottle of Canadian ice wine. 



The island of Samos has a long history of wine making, perhaps as far as to 1200bc.   It is most famous for the sweet dessert wine it makes from the Muscat grape. Muscat is the variety most associated with the island under the geographical indication of PDO Samos.   Samos has had its own organization for a long time. The Union of Winemaking Cooperatives of Samos  was founded in 1934, involving 25 local cooperatives representing all the wine growers of the island.   Its goals are recognition of its products and marketing for a larger share in the worldwide market.    They have succeed as Samos Muscat is one of Greece’s best known wines internationally.

Most of the 25 villages belonging to the Samos wine terroirs lie in the northern part of the island with a few smaller vineyards in the center of the island. .   Most are in mountainous or semi-mountainous areas where the ideal growing conditions allow the grapes  to mature slowly, gaining rich sugar content which is necessary in the creation of a sweet wine. The grapes are grown on the slopes of Mount Ampelos, up to a height of 900 m, with the best wines coming from vineyards at 500–600 m altitude.

samos grapes vines

The Tasting:

This wine is best served at 8°-10°C (46°-50°F).  The wine was clean, bright yellow greenish golden color.  Medium to full bodied. On the nose, I immediately pick up the florals.  The fruit aroma of citrus and apricot.  On the palate, the flavors follow the nose with peach present.  The apricot is tasting more dried rather than a fresh one.  There are hints of fig and honey.  There is even a touch of smoke.  The sweetness on the finish develops into tropical fruit with creamy and luscious texture.  Long finish with the honey and lemon flavors hanging until the end.


The Pairing:

As there was an entire table full of desserts, I opted to drink with a piece of biscotti and fruit.  It was a perfect pairing.  My husband, decided to pair it with the tiramisu–mainly because this is one of his favorite sweets. I tired to steer him towards a different choice of dessert as I thought the pairing would not be good, but I was reminded by our host, in the most loving way, “He’ll eat just about anything alongside anything!”.  (My man can eat.)  We were all surprised that it was actually pretty good pairing ! The creaminess of the tirimisu was complemented by the creamy finish of the wine.  The acidity held up against the richness.  So with that lesson, I would also like to try  it paired with custard, vanilla, and yogurt desserts. If I was having a ‘Greek’ themed dinner I would have to offer it alongside a small traditional sweet, but then again, I am not thinking this would be the best.  However, this is the world of wine—you might like it.  After all, taste is  personal, and pairings should be deemed  successful by our own palate and not what is written in a book.    For those who usually just drink coffee with dessert and are new to dessert wines,  try to remember that the wine should be sweeter than the dessert itself, and that as the colors of the dessert get darker, so should the wine.

We certainly traveled back to that summer through this wine.  So much so that our friends brought out the photo book that they created from the trip to visit us over 12 years ago.  We saw ourselves 12 years younger at the Molyvos castle, the ancient theatre, and the Bridge of Kremasti.  I remember all the beaches.  There are so many, but my favorite was Agio Ermoyennis near Mytilini.  That beach day was all about relaxing unlike another day at Skala Eressos where we went windsurfing! In antiquity Eressos was an important commercial center and was also home to the philosopher and botanist Theophrastus and the philosopher Phanias who was a pupil of Aristotle. There are still remains of the ancient city and walls and somewhere off the shore is the wreck of the Turkish warship Moving Mountain, sunk by Dimitris Papanikolis during the war for Greek Independence in 1821. It is also the birthplace of the poetess Sapho.  


Samos island

We ended our night in Canada talking about the evening we shared in Lesvos.  The evening  about 12 years ago seemed like it was just last week.  The evening where the four of us watched the sunset, while drinking Muscat, laughing and talking and staying awake until the sun rose.   



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