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Originally published April 7, 2012 at 7:02 PM | Page modified April 8, 2012 at 7:02 AM

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Opa! Here's to delightful Greek wines

Though still a bit hamstrung by unfamiliar grape names and unknown wine regions, stylish Greek wines have been trickling onto prestigious restaurant lists on the East Coast. Wine Adviser Paul Gregutt sampled some, and he found several delightful and unique offerings.

Special to the Seattle Times

Pick of the week

Alpha Estate 2010 Axia Malagouzia White; $17

A MARVELOUS white wine with a range of floral, mineral and tree-fruit scents and flavors that gain complexity while keeping a sharp focus. Amazing length for the price, with some sweet baking spices adding delicious highlights. (Vinum distributes)

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DESPITE ITS prime Mediterranean location and a history of wine production that dates back more than 5,000 years, Greece has generally been left out of serious consideration when the great wines of Europe are discussed. It may be time to give the Greeks their due.

Though still a bit hamstrung by unfamiliar (not to mention unpronounceable) grape names — agiorgitiko, anyone? — and wine regions unknown to all but the geekiest wine lovers, stylish Greek wines have been trickling onto prestigious restaurant lists on the East Coast. Look for wine imported by Diamond Wine Imports, distributed in the Northwest by Vinum; and Athenee Imports, distributed by Unique. I sampled wines from both portfolios, and found several delightful and unique offerings.

Importer Ted Diamantis is celebrating his 20th year in the business, and it hasn't been easy trying to get buyers interested in his clients, he writes in his blog. "I started off at a disadvantage, since the impression that the buyer had was always negative. So we didn't even start off at zero; we started off trying to convince people that Greek wines are not bad wines."

What I particularly like about wines from both importers are the stylish, proportionate flavors. White wines are crisp and layered with floral, citrus and mineral highlights; they favor minerality over butter and toast. Very little or no new oak is used. They would be superb with oysters, crab, calamari and light, rather than oily, fish.

Greek red wines may or may not incorporate some percentage of familiar grapes such as syrah, cabernet or merlot. They, too, are acid-driven, sometimes steely, tart with wild-berry flavors and whiffs of Mediterranean herbs and Middle Eastern spices. The ones recommended here are clean and detailed, with alcohol levels quite moderate by current American standards. Whether or not you are grilling goat this month, give them a try.

WHITE WINES

Domaine Skouras 2010 White; $11. Very tart, very fresh, a fine oyster wine.

Domaine Skouras 2010 Moscofilero; $15. Mineral, orange peel and bracing acidity.

Mercouri 2010 Folói; $17. Grassy, melony fruit with a whiff of white pepper.

Argyros 2010 Atlantis; $18. Concentrated citrus, tea, rind and mineral, with terrific length.

Domaine Sigalas 2011 Santorini Assyrtiko; $25. Elegant and spicy with compelling minerality.

Gai'a 2010 Wild Ferment Assyrtiko; $30. From ungrafted, 80-year-old vines, this is a stunner, combining the flavors of the best Sancerre and Loire Valley chenin.

RED WINES

Domaine Skouras Saint George 2010 Aghiorghitiko; $14. Here is your everyday burger red, with spicy cranberry flavors.

Gai'a 2010 Nótios; $16. A Beaujolais style, fruity and crisp, perfect for chilling.

Alpha Estate 2008 Turtles Vineyard Syrah; $18, and Alpha Estate 2007 Hedgehog Vineyard Xinomavro; $18. These two wines would make a nice pairing, both single-vineyard offerings with flavors reminiscent of a decent Côtes-du-Rhône.

Domaine Skouras 2008 Megas Oenos; $27. Old-vine fruit yields an elegant, poised, genteel red with Super Tuscan flair.

Domaine Skouras 2007 Grand Cuvée; $27. Plums, cocoa dust, baking spices and good concentration are the highlights of this reserve-level red.

Ktima Pavlidis 2008 Thema; $27. A blend of syrah and agiorgitiko, substantial and complex, with cured meat, dried herb, tart berry, mineral and a hint of lemon peel.

Domaine Skouras 2006 Synoro; $29. Mostly cabernet franc and merlot, the Synoro has generous almond-pastry, plum-cake and cherry-pie flavors.

Alpha Estate 2007 'A' Red; $33. A blend of syrah, merlot and xinomavro, with the gamy scents of syrah, and the depth, length and structure of some big-ticket Italian wines.

The revised second edition of Paul Gregutt's "Washington Wines & Wineries" is now in print. His blog is www.paulgregutt.com. Email: paulgwine@me.com.

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About Wine Adviser

My column is all about sharing the joy of exploring all the world of wine. I want to guide people to make inspired choices, and encourage them to try as many different styles of wine as they can. I will always seek out the best wines at the best prices. Wine Adviser runs on Sunday in Pacific Northwest Magazine.
paulgwine@me.com

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