Wines of Greece
The blue Aegean waters that surround the many islands do sparkle; houses on the hillside overlooking the ocean seem to capture all of your senses. Experiencing the food and wine of Greece is a passionate adventure and an exploration of this beautiful wine country will literally transform you to another world. Vines in Greece may have been growing naturally for as long as there are people and the Greeks have cultivated these vines for well over four thousand years making it the oldest area of viticulture in the world. Ancient buildings sit alongside wineries and history can be found depicting grapes in archaeological discoveries. Hidden treasures are quite common all over Greece, one of the oldest civilizations in history. It is a place where discovering its mystery is a very personal experience.
The wines of Greece each represent their own regions from which they are grown. The natural circulation of the air from the surrounding seas, across the peaks and valleys, create microclimates and in turn, original and complex wines unlike any you will find elsewhere in the world. Greek wine has come a long way in the past decade and is now being recognized around the world for its originality and its quality. Gone are the days of low excellence wine, Greece now produces wine that stands out and pairs exceptionally well with food. Of course it has to; this is a country where eating and drinking is an experience and a celebration.
The romance of a meal in Greece is a love affair. The locals enjoy food as their ancestors did, often in an al fresco setting next to the house under the shade of a tree or arbour of vines. The table is covered with tantalizing food such as skewers of souvlaki, feta cheese drizzled with local olive oil, fresh fish or the succulent Dolmadakia, a Greek speciality of hand rolled grape leaves filled with rice and onions. It becomes a feast of great food, great wine and great company. And in true Greek hospitality, there are usually no fewer than three different wines on the table allowing each guest to taste their food while creating their own wine pairings. Greek wines are perfect food.
The northern region of Macedonia, once the kingdom of Alexander the Great, is today an archaeological delight. Here you will find the high peak of Mount Olympus while along the Aegean Sea are the beautiful and lively beach towns of Hakidiki and Thassos. Macedonia has rainy summers and with its high mountains and fertile soil along the coast, it is considered one of the finest winemaking regions in Greece, after all it is the home of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine.
In the historic Peloponnese region you can discover the site of Epidaurus, a 4th century Theatre with acoustics that will render you speechless or visit the ancient city of Olympia where the very first Olympic Games were held in 776BC. This region’s vineyards are known for their complexity and diversity as it grows the red Agiorghitiko and Moschofilero grapes as well as the aromatic, white Muscat and the Roditis grapes.
The region of Thessaly south of Macedonia is home of the Centaurs from Greek mythology and offers gorgeous natural beauty. The mountainous, red-roofed villages look out to the sea each with their own characteristics. Many of the vineyards here are located in the mountains and therefore endure cold winds that help keep the vineyards cool creating the development of acidity in the wines. A wide variety of grapes are grown here such as the indigenous red Xinomavro and Messenikola Black and the lighter white Roditis.
The southern island of Crete where it is said that the ancient Minotaur was killed, is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea with warm blowing winds while inland is a large mountain range running the length of the island with fertile valleys secluded in the centre. Four wine producing regions are dominant here, creating white and red wines, which are protected from the southern winds and watered by the mountain water run off during the summer. The beaches are spectacularly golden with crystal waters and the villages throughout the island offer warm hospitality to visitors. Here you can explore medieval castles, Byzantine monasteries or possibly try something new and learn to cook the Greek cuisine for yourself in one of the many traditional cooking lessons that are offered as a holiday.
While some people may find Greek food can be difficult to pronounce; the wines are no exception, adding to their unique qualities. With easy drinking, fresh whites such as Moschofilero or the amazing red Xinomavro, the varietal name may not roll off your tongue but the taste will open your senses. Greek wines reveal their old world structure while the recent varietals create new fantasies. Wine making is connected to everyday life as it always has been. It is more than an occupation or even a hobby. In parts of Greece they still perform a service before harvest to bless the grapes and ask for a good vintage. It is a way of life.
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-Certified Sommelier (CMS)
Napa Reserva -Falling for wine, one sip at a time. TM