Fresh from a trip to Greece, Greek Wine Girl Nicole Andersen shares her travelogue. Find out the latest on her Greek wine travels.
Greek Wine Girl: Travelogue Greece – Fall 2017
Another trip. Greece is always amazing, and this time, it gave me a bit of everything. The tone was set upon my arrival, when I approached passport control to present my passport, and my cousin was at the desk! This was the warmest welcome I could have asked for. Greece took me from my daily grind and showed me her way. I experienced it to the fullest.
Schools opened the day before. I arrived to find the roar of summer tourism fading, and life getting back to normal. The end of summer meant back to work and activities, and the busyness of life, but Greece was still humming. The summer heat lingered full force; it never let up during my stay.
In the Greek wine world, things were quite busy. I’d touched down on Hellenic soil when every winery is buzzing with harvest and the start of wine production. On this trip, my home base was Athens. Typically, I don’t stay in one place for more than 36 hours. With an extended stay, I felt like I was at home and working like any other day, heading to the city for meetings, and flowing right into the daily grind, except for one thing – I was in Greece!
I couldn’t wait to jump in and discover what was new in the Greek wine world. There are changes every time I visit. This is an especially exciting time, as the Greek wine world continues to grow and evolve. Come explore with me.
Athens wine bar By the Glass has been named one of the 10 top wine bars in Greece. IMAGE: bytheglass.gr
Greek wine market evolving
Since 2010 when I first got involved in the wine business, bottles of wine were bought in wineries, and a select few were available in stores. Much to my surprise, corner markets sold – and continue to sell — bag-in-box wine. Shockingly enough they’re from big name producers. They’re completely affordable and great wine. The only downfall, in my opinion, much is sold in large plastic water bottles. However, if you drink it right away, it’s not a problem.
Wine life in Greece has changed tremendously. As I reflect on those early years, I was stunned by the lack of knowledge among Greeks about what their own country was doing in terms of wine. Few knew that Greece was producing high quality white wines. Today, however, the Greek wine world has exploded. About 800 wineries dot this tiny country, and approximately 300 varietals are made there. It’s safe to say that Greece has arrived, and it’s a force in the wine world.
Greek wine trend: wine bars
With this growth, the wine bar trend has arrived. Visiting wine bars in Greece was a fantastic experience. As the wine culture grows, word spreads. It was a pleasant surprise to find, while on a walk through the streets of Syntagma, multiple stores selling Greek wine and spirits.
Near Syntagma, between Filellinon and Leoforos Vasilissis Amalias, tucked near the Inn Athens Hotel, was a swanky wine bar. By The Glass boasts a great atmosphere and an interesting wine list. They offer many wines by the glass – hence the name. I had a late snack (it was excellent) and some wine with a friend, while discussing the wine market. Many of the wines I have shared with you made the cut here, too. I truly enjoyed seeing them on lists in almost every place I had a glass of wine.
Greek spirits growing in popularity
In the spirits world, the number one player in the game is Tsilili. Their Tsipouro is quite popular. It’s left its mark around the country, reaching into tiny collages like mine in Lidoriki. I’m so impressed with Tsilili wines, too. They’re equally outstanding. Without a doubt, they’ll soon hit the shops with equal force.
Hitting the wine road
It was time to hit the road, and I made my way to Trikala, Meteora, and Triopli. The wines and vines pull me in year after year. Though Greece has made huge strides in the wine world, we still have room to grow. I do believe, however, that we have mastered the craft of white wine making. Red wines are still a work in progress for Greece, however we have sincerely come a long way with that. Our reds are aggressive, acid-driven, and funky — and I love them. I love watching their progress. On this trip, I tasted both reds and whites, but what truly impressed me were the rosé wines, which I nonetheless consumed like water.
Let’s talk about some of the standout wines on this trip.
Malagousia is my absolute favorite Greek white varietal. Over the years I have grown to love its diversity. Here are some to check out.
Wine Art Estate (Drama)
Every year it gets better. Their new label, “Plano” could be the best Malagousia in Greece.
Porto Carras (Halkidiki)
I love watching this winery’s progression. The Malagouzia here was fresh and green, and I want more!
The Theopetra blend of Malagousia and Assyrtiko was outstanding. Tsilili Edenia, a brut quality sparkling white really impressed me. I thought to myself, “Holy cow! Where has this been all my life?” It was just brilliant.
The latest rosés are equally impressive. You can’t go wrong any way you go, but these producers stand out:
Tripolis is the home of Moschofilero, and the wine road leads right to the elite, true master of Moschofilero, Kitma Tselepos. Blanc De Gris, and Amalia Brut are brilliant works of Yannis Teslepos. Tselepos is a true pioneer of Moschofilero, and have set the highest standards. No matter what wine I try, I always find this ktima consistent year-after-year.
Greece is amazing any time of year
Whether you go for sun, island hopping, outdoor adventures, or food and wine treks, Greece is always amazing, and at any time of year. This year, as the economy struggles for yet another year, I felt the struggle of the common people more so than ever. Greece is producing many wonderful products right now, and exports are on the rise. You can help them by supporting Greece and Greek products. Buy Greek — a bottle of wine, oil, juice, vinegar, etc. And now with Greece finally on the “wine map”, wines are more accessible. Run, don’t walk, to your nearest wine shop and get yourself a bottle (or several). You’ll enjoy some amazing wine AND support Greece.
Until next time, cheers!