Wine Columnist, Nicole Andersen, a.k.a. Greek Wine Girl, has just returned from Greece. Here, shares some of her tasting notes and recommendations.
Hello, it’s me, Greek Wine Girl! I’ve just returned from another incredible trip to Greece. The amazing Greek wines figured prominently in this trip. Read on to learn more about it, and get my tasting notes.
Greek wine travels
A few weeks ago, I returned to my favorite place in the world – Greece – for yet another Greek wine adventure. I flew into Thessaloniki, and stopped for a quick dinner and a drink with my cousins. By 8:00 am I was on the bus ready to burn road.
Our driver was a champ. Oddly enough, he wasn’t always happy with our lack of punctuality, — and “let me have another glass” attitudes. Wait. We’re in Greece, right? However by the time we parted from him six-and-a half-days later, he grew to love us. He expressed to me, and my traveling companion and great friend, Yannis Tsapos of Dionysos Imports, that we were one of the best wine groups he’s had. We truly did have a great group, with great energy. This was one of my first trips with a group where we all jived well together and stayed as a group for the majority of the time. We really laughed and truly enjoyed ourselves.
These trips for me are always a speed race of friends, family, and my winemakers who’ve become part of my family. We traveled some serious miles, with lack of sleep and a ton of Greek wine.
Our first wine visit was Xanthi, Thrace to see the experimenters of Pamidi and Limnio, the family that lives on the dream of their father Vourvoukeli. The brothers, sons of a doctor with a hobby for winemaking, have set themselves apart with Limnio, a rustic and vibrant grape dating back as far deep as roots, and to the gates of Alexander the Great. Limnio appeared in the writings of Aristotle, described as producing the famous red Leonian wine. According to wine expert Oz Clarke:
“Limnio is one of Greece’s most important red vines.”
Here are the standouts:
Limnio Red – P.G.I. Avdira
Microclimate: Mediterranean, mild hot summer with relative humidity, dry and chilly winter.
Soil: Sand, Clay and Sloping
Tasting notes: Rich and dark red color. Ripe black cherry, and pomegranate flavors with cedar and dark chocolate notes. Dry in taste, with lush acidity and well-integrated tannins. Full-bodied but elegant, with aromas of sweet dark cherries, plums, spices, dark chocolate, roasted coffee beans, and a long, spicy aftermath.
Avdiros Rose 2015 – Currently on the water to arrive in the U.S. soon
Varietals: Pamidi & Syrah
Tasting Notes: Vivid roseate color, intense aromas of fresh strawberry, gooseberry and forest fruit. Full fresh taste with gentle acidity and sweet aftertaste.
From there, it was on to Drama, to my trojan horse, Wine Art Estate. I call it that because I believe they will emerge as the best Greece has to offer. My dear friend, Winemaker Akis Papadopoulos, rolled out the red carpet for us. Akis has taken his father’s hobby and turned it into his own expression of fine winemaking skills. With his love for order and a tidy working environment, he has created one of Greece’s most state-of-the-art facilities. Akis’ partner, Yannis Kalaitzidis, prepared the best meal of the trip. The meal — consisting of tuna tartar, octopus ceviche, caprese eggplant salad, and more — and the Greek wine pairings were well thought out and had the most exquisite pairing grace. I truly enjoyed myself.
Akis is one of Greece’s finest gentleman (don’t get excited ladies he’s taken). He’s a humble winemaker who really loves his job. He’s dabbling in many creations that are things you won’t want to miss. I’m watched him evolve. He’s a gifted winemaker, and I‘m always excited to see his current vintages. ries.
We took a tour of the estate and went to the cellars for a proper wine tasting. The wines were showing ever so well! We tasted through the entire portfolio. I loved them all, but here are just a few favorites.
Techi Malagousia 2015
Varietal Malagousia P.G.I Macedonia
Tasting Notes: Explosive aromatics of white flowers, citrus fruits, faint hints of honey, on the pallet. This wine is full-bodied with very clean and refreshing acidity.
Idisma Drios Assyrtiko
Varietal Assyrtiko P.G.I. Drama
Note: This Assyrtiko is fermented in oak barrels, after the skin contact maceration, the must is fermented in oak barrels and the wine matures in contact with its fine lees for about 5 months for maximum body and aromatic complexity.
Tasting Notes: A very unique and complex aromatics, caramelized citrus fruits with persistent underlying oak notes. On the pallet, this wine is unique and has perfect balance and hints of vanilla bean with a lovely crispness.
Pink Bang 2015
Varietal 100% Touring Nacional
Tasting Notes: A complex yet delicate nose with faint hints of strawberries, florals and other red fruits, and the pallet is overpowering with fruit and spice.
We boarded the bus for Naoussa at 8:00 am, after a much needed sleep. This visit is long overdue. This is one of the few regions I hadn’t visited to that point. I kind of felt like a kid going to Disney for the first time. I couldn’t wait to get to the “Paliokalias” of Dalamara. I have so much RESPECT for this entire region. They’ve truly set themselves apart from the rest. These winemakers are all friends; they break bread, drink each other’s wines, and help each other.
I tasted wines from Foundi Estate and Kostis Dalamaras, and visited with Petros Karydas and Apostolos Thymiopoulos, KirYanni, and many other outstanding winemakers have put Naoussa on the map.
Xinomavro is the Nebbiolo of Greece. It stands the test to age in a graceful and refined way. It’s truly one of Greece’s most respected grapes and each ktima shows that in rustic and modern ways.
In 1930, Foundi planted their first vineyards with Xinomavro. This wine needs food — so we tasted them along with an amazing lunch. This wine is aged for one year in French oak barrels and for at least one additional year in the bottle.
Tasting Notes: It’s well-developed deep red color. Rich bouquet of ripe red fruits, spices and wood. On the pallet, it’s full of tannins that develop nicely with a long aftertaste. These qualities will continue to develop while bottle aging.
This is selected from the vineyards of the Ramnista area, the heart of the appellation zone.
Tasting Notes: One year of aging in oak barrels brings out the intense red color. Red fruits and strong aromatics of cocoa notes, with hints of coffee. On the pallet, it’s full-mouthed with structured tannins, and a refined aftertaste. This wine has many years of bottle aging potential.
Note: We consumed special aged vintages from 1996, 1998, 2000. Aging is ever so worthy for these wines.
The Dalamaras family has been making wine since 1840. This could challenge the dates of the Boutari family, who has claimed to be the oldest winemaking family in the region. The winery is located in the PDO (Protected Destination of Origin) zone, in the center of Naoussa. Paliokalias is at an altitude of 250-300m. 90 year-old Xinomavro vines lay like bosses in their vineyards and are a sight to see. The Dalamaras family has much respect for the lands and for maintaining the equilibrium of the natural environment. They use organic practices and experimenting with biodynamic practices.
We drank some old vintages and tasted through a few years of Paliokalias — all worthy of the title Kostis holds as the Top 30 under 30 most promising talents in the wine world.
The August issue Wine & Spirits for 2016 gave these ratings:
93 Points Dalamara 2012 Paliokalias
90 Points Dalamara 2013 Paliokalias
Bye bye Naoussa
Northern Greece is definitely making its mark. We enjoyed an outstanding dinner, with both Dalamaras and Foundi, at a farm-to-table restaurant in the heart of Naoussa. Then we had a short rest and continued on our journey.
Next time, I’ll tell you more about this amazing trip, to places like Evia, Nafplion, Tripolis, Paros, Santorini and more. stay tuned for more on Greek wine.
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