Greek Wine Odyssey


By Adam Leith Gollner


    FIVE OF MONTREAL'S TOP SOMMELIERS EMBARK upon a whirlwind weeklong research expedition to Greece in search of that land's finest wines. The group starts in the North, in Thessaloniki, and gradually makes its way south to the Aegean sea. They meet with hallowed producers like Boutari and Kir-Yianni and visit vineyards everywhere from the Peloponnese to the holy mountain of Athos, spiritual home of Eastern Orthodoxy. After sampling countless wines, many of them alongside classic Greek dishes, the travellers all agree that the country's greatest potential lies in the minerally white Assyrtikos from the volcanic soils of Santorini and in the deep, tannic, long-lived red Xinomavros from Naoussa. But each sommelier also has their own personal preferences, and I asked them to share their discoveries.

JAMES GRAHAM-SIMPKINS, JOE BEEF/LIVERPOOL HOUSE
Favourite Greek wine: The red wines of Domaine Economou of Crete. The depth and layers of primary, secondary and tertiary aromas make it one of the most complex and enjoyable Greek wines I have ever had the pleasure of consuming.
Best dish: Whole grilled squid with herbs, lemon and olive oil at Taberna Kpiváki in Santorini.
Region I would start a vineyard in: I would love to plant or revitalize a vineyard of Assyrtiko vines in Santorini and do experiments with organic viticulture there. Given the climatic and soil conditions I imagine it may be a great place to produce wine without the use of harsh chemical treatments against rot and other vine diseases.

RYAN GRAY, NORA GRAY
Favourite Greek wine: Mavrotrágano by Sigalas, in Santorini. I also think the Agiorghitiko grape has enormous potential. It's complex, deep, and full of character.
Best dish: Frumenty in lemon sauce with urchin salad, bottarga and herbs, at Selene in Santorini.
Region I would start a vineyard in: The Peleponese. Scenic mountain ranges, sweeping valleys of orange and lemon groves, and of course great terroir! Crisp mineral whites and the potential for world-class reds.

VÉRONIQUE DALLE, PULLMAN
Favourite Greek wine: Hatzidakis' Assyrtico cuvée Mylos.
Best dish: The wild greens (horta) served after the wine tasting at Domaine Gerovassiliou in Epanomi.
Region I would start a vineyard in: Crete. We tried the marvellous wines of Domaine Economou at the Athens wine salon, and their quality is breathtaking.

THEO DIAMANTIS, OENOPOLE
Favourite Greek wine: For their purity and precison, Thymiopoulos' Terre et Ciel and Dalamaras' Paliokalias. They express the terroir of Naoussa majestically!
Best dish: The free-range lamb and mutton - butchered, aged and then grilled on the spot on live charcoal - at Gavrilis Tavern in Kouvaras. Perfection. Simplicity. The retsina made by the Papagiannakos family transports you way back in time.
Region I would start a vineyard in: Cephalonia. One of my favourite grapes is Robola, and the best expression of it is made by the natural winemaker Vladis Sclavos. It would be an honour to work side by side with him in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

CASSADY SNIATKOWSKI, KAIZEN
Favourite Greek wine: Mantinia Tselepos. Really fun and dynamic wine that is great with food as well as just on its own.
Best dish: The taramosalata at the monastery at Mount Athos. The environment and the whole meal made for one of the most impressive dining experiences I've ever had. Although souvlaki in Monastiraki in Athens was also so pure and greasy good.
Region I would start a vineyard in: I would love to start a vineyard in Limnos, working with the almost forgotten varietal of Limnio.

The New Greek Wine

By Susie Ellison

WHEN IT COMES TO GREEK wine, I'd never moved past resiny retsina, which reminds me of Lemon Pledge. But I was in town during Detrop/ Oenos, Thessaloniki's annual food and wine fair, where I discovered some outstanding Greek wines. There's logic to this. Greece, after all, has the oldest wine culture in the world. Mount Olympus, where Dionysus cavorted, is not far from Thessaloniki. Fast forward a few thousand years to a generation of vintners trained in France, add some shiny new EU-funded wineries, and ancient wines get a new lease on life. To sample some outstanding Greek wines while you learn about the country's viticultural history, visit Domain Gerovassiliou winery. The vineyard offers a gorgeous view of the Gulf of Thessaloniki, an elegant tasting room and a Wine Museum with the world's largest collection of corkscrews and antique winemaking tools. If you can't visit Greece, you can learn about Greek wines and where to find them at www.newwinesofgreece.com

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