Greek Wine Girl: Greece and Her Wines – Part 2

Wine Columnist, Nicole Andersen, a.k.a. Greek Wine Girl, shares more from her recent trip to Greece. Get the scoop on her trip, and Greek wine recommendations.


Hello, it’s me, Greek Wine Girl! Last month I shared with you part of my early summer trip to Greece, and all the great wines and wineries I experienced. Here’s part 2 of my travelogue, including tasting notes and recommendations.

 

Greek wines of Evia

We left Naoussa, for Evia to visit Avantis Winery. Along the way we stopped with our group to stretch our legs. What better place than the Hot Gates, a coastal pass with sulfur springs in Thermopylae that the Persians had to cross to get to Attica?! There is an aura about this place — you really need to experience it for yourself — a feeling that something important happened here, and the ghosts still seem to lurk. We took some time to take it all in, and learn about the history.

Soon we arrived in Evia. It’s the second largest of the Greek islands, and is one of the closest to Athens.  Avantis is the ancient name of Evia, sometimes spelled ‘Euboea’. Avantis is also the name of one of the prehistoric (2100-1900 BC) Ionian Greek tribes from Attica that settled in Evia, mainly around two towns — Chalkis and Eretria. The name Avantis comes from the nymph Ava who, according to mythology, was loved by Poseidon.

 

 

Greek wine Avantis Winery
A lovely Greek wine tasting and lunch at Avantis Winery. PHOTO: Nicole Andersen

 

Avantis Winery

At Avantis Winery, we met owners/operators Apostolos and Lenga. This winery was lovely– from the warmth of the family to the Pinterest-perfect feel. Scarecrows dressed in adorable outfits stand at the end of each row of the vineyards. A lovely garden tasting was ready for us, under the welcome shade of an old tree.

Apostolos honors the legacy of his great-grandfather, who began making wine in 1830. From father-to-son, the tradition and craft has been passed from generation to generation. He took the reigns with his first vilification in 1994.

The experience here was very moving and chock full of history.  There’s so much love, thought, and pride here. The sense of pride is something I love most about Greek culture. This family and this winery show that in multiple ways. They truly respect the land, and this respect is evident in all they do. I was moved by their words.

The winemakers’ passion is beautifully expressed in the wines, and we experienced it fully during our tasting. Each and every wine has this deep passion and love, this feeling mirrored in Apostolos by his very being.  

We tasted many varietals that were ever so delightful, but unfortunately, space and time don’t permit writing about all of them. Someday you must visit and experience it for yourself.

 

Here are some standouts:

 

Plagies Greakion – “Hawk’s Slope” Rose

100% Mavrokoudora

(Off the newest vineyard site)

Tasting notes: (combined notes from Iron Gate Sommelier Daniel Runnerstrom)

The wine shows tart cherries, fresh herbs, Daniel notes copper and saline as well as a great round fruit of quality that is full without being cloying.

 

Plagies Greakion – “Hawk’s Slope” Red

80% Mavrokoudora 20% Syrah

Tasting notes: (also by Daniel Runnerstrom)

Beautiful quality of fruit. It’s ripe, red, black, and lush without being heavy. Red and purple flowers, woody herbs. Medium tannins, medium acid, medium plus body. A lovely, feminine counterpart to the Avantis Syrah.

 

Greek wine adventures at Aivalis Winery

Our next stop was Nafplio, where we spent the night. There were had dinner with Christos Aivalis, owner of Aivalis Winery, located outside the village of Petri in Nemea. He is a very exuberant character, so you can imagine the wines he makes. Meeting him is an experience no one would ever forget. This family has been growing grapes for five generations. Our meeting and dinner is something that I’ll always remember.

The wines were served along an amazing seaside: a gorgeous setting, complete with a cool evening breeze, and a beautiful array of food. Christos is a perfectionist. Each year he buys top quality wines from all over the world, in order to compare his own wines with the best money can buy. He knows that many top quality wines are now coming out of Greece and for this he has great respect. In fact, he is quite fond of Kostis Dalamaras, so I know he has good taste.

The next generation is at work. The future is looking bright, with the birth of a new wine called Two Gods — a collaboration of between Christos and his son, Sotiris, who studied enology in Burgundy.

 

Christos Aivalis and Greek Wine Girl Nicole Andersen.
Christos Aivalis and Greek Wine Girl Nicole Andersen. PHOTO: Nicole Andersen

 

Standouts:

 

Two Gods

Dry red wine; blend of Agiorgitiko, Cabernet Sauvignon

Tasting notes: This is the new wine that Christos and Sotiris are collaborating on. I was so impressed with this wine. In fact, it was so good, I forgot to take notes! I’ve been told that 2,600 bottles were made and already 1,900 en primeur. That’s a method of buying wine before it’s released, popular for centuries in Bordeaux.  

 

The Wines Monopati

100% Agiorgitiko

Tasting notes: This Greek wine is a true gem, and has a limited batch production. A full-bodied wine with new barrel aging. Aromas of dark cherry, dried plums, and hints of sweet and fresh red fruits. It has rich complexity that gives off notes of fresh cut herbs with spice and smoke as well as vanilla bean.

 

Aivalis Nemea

100% Agiorgitiko

Tasting notes:  A delightful nose of stewed jams with mint and hints of mountain tea. It’s true to all characteristics of fine agiorgitiko.

 

Tselepos of Tripoli

After some rest, we headed to Tripolis, to visit Tselepos Winery. I always look forward to seeing the Tselepos family; a great tasting and learning experience is always in store. Kitma Tselepos is a top 10 winery in Greece — a much deserved recognition. Yannis Tselepos is an oenologist who studied in Dijon. He is a perfectionist and a hard worker who has a great love for his winery and wines. Yannis is a class act from start to finish, and each and everyone of his wines is a true expression of his enduring love for his work.

He is the pioneer of the drive to obtain the PDO Mantinia recognition for Moschofilero. Moschofilero actually has three clones — Asprofilero, Xanthofilero, and Mavrofilero — all of which are grown there. In my opinion, he is the master of Moschofilero. This wine is expressive on so many levels in his wines.

Yannis is most known for his Moschofilero Mantinia, and Agiorgitiko Nemea. With the birth of his newest child (as he often refers to his wines), Canava Chryssou Santorini 100% Assyrtiko, he’s already made quite the impression. He is showing the world that Santorini is special.

 

Tselepos Winery Greek Wine
Tselepos Winery in Tripolis. COURTESY Tselepos Winery

 

During our tasting, many of the wines stood out, but my favorites was 2015 Mantinia Classico and 2015 Blanc De Gris.

 

Some standouts:

 

2006 Mantinia Classico

Moschofilero

Tasting notes:  This wine ages with grace.The freshness of Moschofilero is so lovely, its age brings out other characteristics that are truly unique.

Tasting notes from Daniel Runnerstrom: Brilliant in gold color. Very cool on the nose with honeyed pears, spice (clove, cardamom), and jasmine perfume. Surprisingly on the palate, the honey quality translates as more of a slightly bruised/browned pear flavor, rich in texture that borders on oiliness; spice is still there. The rocky soil is more apparent than when its young.

 

2013 Amalia Brut

Sparkling wine; 100% Moschofilero

Tasting notes: Very rich and full of yeasts, breads, and hard cookies. Lovely hints of orange on the palate.

 

2003 Kokkinomylos

Dry red wine; 100% Merlot

 

2004 Avlotopi

Dry red wine; 100% Cabernet Sauvignon

 

1996 Dilofos Red

Dry red wine; 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot

 

 

Lovely lunch

After a tour of the winery, we visited a church located in the center of the estate. We walked to an old mill located on the property, which has been restored. There, we saw a single vine,  noted to be of pre-phylloxera time — a rare find.

A table was set under the shade for a perfect wine lunch. We shared great company and great stories of our previous days of travel and Greek wine. The love and hospitality is yet another bonus on this journey.

 


Next time, I’ll tell you about our travels to Paros and Santorini. Until then, enjoy Greek wine — and responsibly. Στην υγειά μας! Cheers!


 

 

Nicole Andersen
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Nicole Andersen

Nicole Andersen, a.k.a. Greek Wine Girl, is a sommelier, and a 17-year veteran of the restaurant business. In 2010, she began burning the midnight oil, studying wine. In this capacity, she was introduced to the world of Greece and her wines. The quest to study them and a great passion for Greece and Greek wine was born.
Nicole Andersen
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