Friday, September 5, 2014

Ode to Greek wines, including Retsina...

I actually love retsina, though the large barrels of authentic, room-temperature brew no longer dominate taverna dining rooms like they once did. Poured into ubiquitous metal carafes refilled over-and-over again, retsina used to be the mainstay of 3-4 hour dinners where wine and spirited conversation ruled the night.  Retsina is Greek wine flavored w/pine resin that has been made for over 2,000 years, and is an  acquired taste worthy of acquiring...(In a pinch, chilled bottle-capped Malamatina retsina will do just fine, but you really must eat something with it.)

Greece is home to 300 grape varietals -- the most well-known being Assyrtico, Moscholfilero, Savatiano, Roditis, Agiorghitiko, and Xinomavro. Now mass Greek wine production and European favorites have been challenged by a new breed of small production wineries championed by partner distributors like Cava Spiliadis (beautiful website!). Andreas Zinelis and Canadian Sommelier Elyse Lambert recently presented its line at Wine By the Bay in Miami.

We tasted 10 wines from Domaine Biblia Chora, Driopi, Domaine Gerovassiliou (in Epanomi, not far from Thessaoliniki), Domaine Katsaros, and Parparoussis. Epanomi native Evangelos Gerovassiliou has benefited from working with Emile Peynaud of Domaine Carras fame and also makes wine under the Biblia Chora label. The Gerovassiliou Malagousia 2013 (100% Malagousia) is a unique white mouth-filling wine from a grape referred to as Greece's answer to viognier (in its own way).

But it was Parparrousis, a small organic winery near Patras  run by founder Athanassios Parparoussis and his two daughters, Erifili and Dimitra, that caught my full attention. "Gift of Dionysos" 2013 (100% Sideritis) is an unoaked white beauty. The "Taos" 2005 (100% Marvrodaphne) was amazing for what it wasn't. Previously I had only drunk Mavrodaphne as a chilled dessert wine. "Taos" (Ancient Greek word for peacock) is a memorable dry red wine with eucalyptus and gingerbread flavors that opened up new vistas -- Double OPA!

Some of these wines can be found in Miami at Wine By the Bay,  Sunset Corners Fine Wines & Spirits,  Vintage Liquor & Wine Bar -- and wherever else good Greek wines are sold. 

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