Wine Columnist, Nicole Andersen, a.k.a. Greek Wine Girl, has shared stories from her summer Greek wine travels. In this final post in the series, she takes us to the islands. Get tasting notes and more.
Greek wine island girl
Hi there, it’s me, Greek Wine Girl! I’m back with part 4 of my my travelogue about my amazing Greek wine filled trip to Greece this summer. Last time, we went to Kalavryta. Now let me take you to the islands. Let’s go!
Greek wine trek: Paros
From Tetramythos we drove to Athens for some rest and an early morning speed boat
departure to Paros. Here we visited Moraitis Winery. Since 1910, the Moraitis family has been perfecting quality each and every year. It just gets better with age. Theo Moraitis began his productions in 2005.
The winery is a beehive of activity, with older and newer parts that all blend and flow
nicely. Here you can find an array of historical wine artifacts. These relics show us how winemaking has evolved over the years. This museum is a reminder of the past, present, and future of the Moraitis family.
There were many noteworthy wines and we had a grand tasting. When we arrived we got a tour, and the table was ready for us. Our group was in great spirits and the wines were flowing. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, tasting one great wine after another. So much so, that I think it would be a safe assumption to say the spit bucket was empty. 😉
2013 Moraitis Paros white-vareli (barrel)
Production: Fermented in 100% New French barrels. Aged in the barrel an additional 5 months.
Tasting notes: Rich in golden hue with a distinct pineapple jam presence, along with almonds and vanilla bean. The flavors explode on the palate.
1992 Paros Red Reserve
Blend Monemvasia and Mandilaris
Tasting notes: I love the current vintage but to see the aged is a different experience. Sediment was present. Hints of sun-dried tomatoes, caper berries, balsamic vinegar, and dried cherries.
On the palate the fruit is not present but savory flavors are. It’s so interesting and I just want to keep drinking it.
Ah, the wine life! Greek Wine Girl shows the stunning landscape at Hatzidakis Winery on Santorini. PHOTO COURTESY NICOLE ANDERSEN.
Greek Wine: Santorini
A speed boat took us from Paros to Santorini — my first trip there in five years. Santorini, with its deep and unique wine history, has always fascinated me. Santorini has varietals that are so unique — not to mention the best tomatoes I’ve ever eaten in my life. It’s also one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in Greece. As more tourist arrive each summer, the fight for land is becoming more evident. Winemakers are left with little land to cultivate.
There is a unique situation on the islands. There is no access to fresh water on the island so water comes in every day on the boats. Rain is limited so all agriculture is stressed to the max.
Santorini was never touched by phylloxera. It’s vines, therefore, are said to be among the world’s oldest, though no one knows their actual age. The volcanic soil, called aspa, has a significant influence on these grapes, resulting in incredibly unique wines. The volcanic ash has created a soil rich in minerals, but with little to no organic matter. The cultivation involves a very unusual technique, used only on this island. Over the years, the vines have been “trained” into continuous circles. This technique, called “kouloura method”, results in the creation of a basket that protects the vines from the elements.
Our first stop, is Hatzidakis Winery. About five years ago, their wines grabbed my attention — they were unique and had this insane saltiness. They became these funky wines my palate screams for. I’ve been fascinated with them ever since.
Established in 1997, the winery is currently under construction, and they’re using the terroir in the most brilliant way. This new winery is carved out of the cliffside with natural wind vents tunneled into them. When the project is finished it will be spectacular. It is actually below the vineyards, which will be quite a sight to see. We received a tour through the construction. The wines were a little young and not ready for tasting, so we will be returning here with great expectation.
Gavalas was the grand finale of this wine adventure, and it was fantastic. Established in 1895, Gavalas Winery is one of the oldest in the Cyclades. Over the years, it has sustained itself by making wine for others that is sold under different labels.
George Gavalas is a humble man. He’s a hard and dedicated worker, yet so calm and relaxed.
What a pleasure to meet Winemaker Margarita Karamolegkou. She earned her degree in winemaking from Greece. In her work and in her explanations, she’s delicate and precise. She loves to experiment with new ideas and techniques, so each year they set aside one stainless tank with one ton of juice solely for this purpose. Margarita is a secret weapon of Gavalas — she’s young and smart. She’s a gem for Santorini and a virtual encyclopedia of knowledge of wine and the indigenous varietals of Santorini. Margarita is exactly what Santorini needs to keep showing the expression of fine winemaking skills.
Since my last visit, Gavalas has added a breathtaking tasting area. There we had a great tasting and lunch. There were many tour groups there. I met many people from the U.S. who were enjoying the wines. It’s always exciting for me to see Greek wines gaining traction.
Gavalas wines lined up for our tasting. I truly love all of their wines. PHOTO COURTESY NICOLE ANDERSEN
Production: Only 2,000 bottles produced. It’s the first 100% bottling from the winery.
Tasting notes: Aromas of muffled fruits and Daniel says the word “waxed” and nails my tasting note (?). Medium acidity. Greek mountain tea, and lemon zest ring through. It’s clean and fun and my favorite white here.
2015 Gavalas Voudomato rosé
Production: Less than .5% of planting on the island.
Tasting notes: It’s still a bit fresh, but it’s exactly what my palate loves: a funky acidic wine. Notes of sweet hard red candy, and even those sweet cherry tomatoes that Santorini has that are like nowhere else. It’s fresh but it’s fantastic and it’s a rosé that’s far from the typical rosé. I can still taste it in my memory pretty vividly. This is one of my top three Greek rosés.
2008 Vin Santo
Blend of Assyrtiko, Athiri, and Aidani
Production: Produced in 1.5 ton Russian barrels, ranging in age from 65-100 years old. 3,000 bottles per year. Each barrel is bottled separate. They’re foot pressed. Visitors can actually wash their feet and jump in! After the foot press it’s manually pressed, then wild fermentation takes place for two months.
Tasting notes: This dessert wine is a personal favorite and a leading example in the market of high quality Vinsanto. WHY?
Goodbye Santorini, I’ll be back!
After a lovely dinner in Amoudi, we went back to the hotel where we were pleasantly surprised with a visit from George Gavalas. We sat outside and shared a bottle of wine under the Meltemi Breeze. Such a beautiful memory, capping off an amazing journey.
Goodbye for now
On this trip, we covered miles and miles filled with amazing wine and food, and even better company. Greece is magical, and captures you under its spell. Writing this travelogue has solidified all those special moments in my mind — all the people and places we visited — they all have meaning.
Wine is a living thing and like every living thing, it thrives when it’s loved and cared for by someone who gives with all their being. When you experience it in this setting, with amazing company, it leaves an imprint on you or your soul. Greece stole my heart long ago, and I will be back. Not soon enough for me.
Till next time, cheers!
Did you read the entire series? Don’t miss out on all the great Greek wine adventures! Click these links to learn more.