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Wine & Spirits

Greek Wines Highlighted in Forbes

December 22, 2021

NEW YORK – Greek winemaking goes back into remote antiquity, and today, modern Greek wines to enjoy in the New Year were highlighted by Forbes magazine.

“Ancient winemaking history aside, what Greek wines do best these days is deliver on value,” Forbes reported, quoting from Mina Group’s Wine Director and Master Sommelier Jeremy Shanker, who created the wine list for Estiatorio Ornos and said: “Greek wines are currently some of the greatest values in the wine world. I’ve poured bottles of Xinomavro [a Greek varietal] for sommelier friends who would swear it’s a $500 bottle of Barolo, but it’s really just a $20 bottle of Xinomavro.”

Shanker “notes that on average the best bottle of Greek wine will rarely cost more than $150 on a wine list, whereas ‘going after the best Cabernet or Pinot Noir, you would have to add a couple digits,’” Forbes reported, adding that “Greece has an ideal winemaking climate with a winning combination of ample sun, minimal rainfall and challenging terroirs.”

From Assyrtiko, Xinomavro, and Agiorgitiko to roses and sparkling wines, “Greece has much to offer the wine lover,” Forbes reported.

Shanker noted that Assyrtiko is “the most important white varietal in Greece,” Forbes reported, “it is grown all over the country from northern Greece to the Cyclades. For those unfamiliar, it closely resembles Chablis from France, but with a distinctively Mediterranean tinge. There’s something about the aroma that exudes a smokiness with touches of spice and salt, the latter which is seldom found in any other wine in the world.”

Vassaltis Santorini Assyrtiko, 2019, a “profound expression of old-vine Assyrtiko gets some of its complexity from six months on the lees,” Forbes reported, adding that “crafted from a selection of vineyards across Santorini, it is a richly textured wine with a beautiful minerally, saline backbone. Notes of orange peel, lemon cream, honeysuckle and a hint of pineapple. A world-class white wine for $36,” available online.

“Santorini Santo Assyrtiko 2019 ($26 online) is another beautiful wine- with 14 months on the lees,” Forbes reported, noting the “tropical richness meets crushed gravel and ocean breezes.”

Xinomavro “translates to ‘sour, black one,’ and, explains Shanker, ‘it is very tart, high in acidity, tannic, lots of texture and grittiness. I often compare it to Nebbiolo as it has a similar flavor profile with its aromatic intensity, high acidity, and elevated tannins,’” Forbes reported.

Domaine Karydas Naoussa Xinomavro, 2016, ($28.99 online) was recommended as “a 100% Xinomavro wine with excellent structure and polished tannins that support a palate of black cherry, spice and roses,” Forbes reported, adding that it is “hand-crafted and [the winery is] family run since the 1980’s… a special wine from a special family.”

“If you love dry rose from southern France, you will be delighted by the offerings from Greece, which are absolutely delicious,” Forbes reported, noting that “Kir Yianni Akakies Sparkling Rose 2018 ($18.99)… pop this one for the party— it’s fresh, delightful and it’s made in the charmat method, so very much like a Greek Prosecco. 100% Xinomavro, juicy berry notes, sparkly fun.”

Zoe Rose 2020 ($13) was also recommended as “a rose wine blend of the red grape, Agiorgitiko, and the floral, fruity white grape, Moschofilero” Forbes reported, adding that “this juicy delicious gem of a wine comes from the Peloponnese” and “it shows ripe, luscious flavors of juicy cherry and peach with a focused, fresh acidity. A fabulous dry rose, best with a Greek salad.”

Agiorgitiko is described by Shanker as a “fruit-forward red varietal” and “the perfect Greek red to serve someone who loves California reds and wants to try something new,” Forbes reported.

Domaine Skouras Grand Cuvee Nemea, 2016 ($55.99) is produced in “a single vineyard that sits at an altitude of 3,400 feet (making this vineyard among the highest altitude in Europe),” and “this expression of 100% Agiorgitiko is complex, layered,” Forbes reported, noting that it is “silky on the palate… shows finesse and elegance… black cherry fruit, black tea and appealing spice balanced with a savory edge.”

Among the delicious red blends, Domaine Sigalus, Mm, Mandilaria Mavrotragano, 2018 ($24), was recommended as a “savory rich red blend” of Mavrotragano and Mandilaria, Forbes reported, adding that it is “grown in the volcanic soils of Santorini.”

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