Amorosso Goes Greek - 28/01/14
It's not often that one gets a chance to taste an all Greek line up. Happily yesterday was one of those brilliant Mondays when tasting grape varieties I've never even heard of, let alone tasted before, was the order of the afternoon. It's a tough life!
Amorosso Fine Wines hosted an intimate tasting of their Greek portfolio at Greek restaurant Souvla in LKF, which turned out to be a brilliant venue for such an event. Very relaxed, with plenty of space to sit down and enjoy the wines, this tasting was a real pleasure to attend. Most of the time at tastings in HK I spend my time fighting my way through endless hoards of people in an attempt to get the merest sip of something. I used to think this was because I'm vertically challenged but in Asia that handicap doesn't really fly. I almost consider myself tall out here which I can assure you is a first!
Wine tastings in HK are usually totally over crowed which always leaves a rather sour taste in my mouth as it's just such a hassle to actually taste anything. Not in this instance, however, which was a really pleasant surprise. There were even enough spittoons, something you NEVER see in HK and since I'm on dry Jan (v boring indeed!) it was hugely appreciated.
The line up consisted of 15 wines from all over different parts of Greece including Arcadia, Cephalonia, Santorini, Crete and Naoussa. As a peninsula, with a large number of a islands, the geography of Greece's wine regions is widespread and varied. The country is 80% mountains, one of the most mountainous in Europe, and for the most part very hot and very dry, especially in the south where drought can be a major problem. Cooling effects generally come either from altitude or from moderating maritime breezes. Soil types are, as one would expect of so many different microclimates, varied and generally of low fertility. All in all then a difficult place to grow most crops, but an environment where vines should, and do, flourish.
There are vineyards all over Greece and its history with vines is centuries old. The Ancient Greeks were in fact the ones to bring vines to Italy, which they named "Oenotria" or "land of trained vines" once they realised that it too had great potential for vine growing. Homer and Hesiod write about wine as an essential part of life in Ancient Greece. It was considered the height of civilisation, unlike beer which was considered very inferior, a drink fit only for foreigners!
But Greece's history has been a complicated one, fraught with battles and wars, and centuries of domination by the Ottoman Turks which blighted the country's wine industry. Modern Greece finally gained independence in 1913 but it was an impoverished and exhausted state. The two World Wars, followed by civil war meant that modernisation of their wine industry was slow and far behind that of France and Italy.
Since the 1960s, however, there has been considerable progress and investment and there are now a number of small estates producing quality wines in an attempt to rival those of their neighbours.
My overall impression from this snapshot tasting was that Greece still has some way to go. The wines, for the most part, were well made, crisp, fresh, showing nice primary fruit and floral character, but lacked a certain elegance, finesse, depth and complexity. Nice easy going wines you'd be very happy with in a Greek Taverna or for taking to a casual dinner party or private kitchen, but not necessarily ones you'd spend hours contemplating. I'd certainly recommend purchasing one of two of these for your next BYOB occasion, as they would be versatile with lots of different foods, especially Asian if I don't miss my bet, and come with very reasonable price tags. I for one will be stocking up on a few...
Tselepos "Amilia Brut" NV - 100% Moschofilero, a variety I've never tasted before and will certainly be hunting down again. This is a lovely sparkling wine from the foothills of Mt Parnon in Arcadia, and makes for a great change from the usual Prosecco or Champagne. Elegant, with fine bubbles, lovely rose petal aromas combined with ripe lemon citrus and a touch of honey, delicate on the palate, with fantastically refreshing acidity. A great aperitif or to have with simple light starters or canapés. 17
Gentilini Robola 2012 - 100% Robola grape of Kefalonia, an increasingly rare, ungrafted, noble grape. This is full of lemon citrus character with a touch of nuttiness, orange blossom and minerality. A touch savoury on the palate with crisp, high acidity making it the perfect match for shellfish and seafood, especially oysters. 16.5
Douloufakis Winery Dafnios White Vidiano 2012 - from the island of Crete this wine has floral, peach and apricot character on the nose, a bit blousy on the palate, lacking tightness and finesse. 15
Tselepos Classic White 2012 - another 100% Moschofilero this wine has white flower blossom character with rose petal and lemon citrus. Very Muscat-like on the nose. Lovely refreshing acidity. A lovely harmony between the citrus and rose petal character. Clean, crisp and fresh to finish. 16.5
Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko Athiri 2012 - 75% Assyrtiko, 25% Athiri - from the island of Santorini comes this wine with fresh lemon and lime character with a touch of herbaceousness, high acidity, crisp, mineral, lovely fresh finish. Would be a great aperitif. 16
Domaine Sigalas Santorini Barrel 2012 - 100% Assyrtiko - mineral, lemon with a touch of savoury nuttiness on the palate, some complexity, oak a touch unbalanced, good acidity. 15.5
Domaine Sigalas Kavalieros 2011 - 100% Assyrtiko - fresh lemon and citrus flowers with some minerality and a herbal, metallic hint. A touch bitter on the finish. 15.5
Kir Yianni Rose Xinomavro 2011 - The Kir Yianni winery is based in Naoussa in Northwestern Greece. This wine is all strawberries and cream. Not at all to my tastes but some might enjoy. I found it a bit unbalanced and not nearly tight enough, lacking in acidity. 14
Gentilini Agiorgitiko, Syrah & Mavrodaphne 2012 - fresh raspberry, strawberry and plum fruit on the nose with similar primary fruit character on the palate. Light tannin, fine, simple, easy drinking. 16
Boutari ODE 2008 - 50% Agiorgitko, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon - some fresh red and black fruit, plum and blackberry with a herbal note. A touch bitter on the finish. 15.5
Tselepos "Dropi Classic Red" 2011 - 100% Agriorgitiko - red fruit character, herbal, fresh on the nose and palate, simple, easy drinking. 16
Kir Yianni "Diaporos" 2008 - 87% Xinomavro, 13% Syrah - deep, ripe plum and blackberry fruits, black chocolate, herbal, some complexity, chalky tannins, full bodied, high alcohol. 16.5
Domaine Sigalas Mavrotragano 2011 - spicy, deep black fruit character, almost port like, very rich and dense, gentle tannins, some complexity. 16
Boutari Vin Santo NV - 90% Assyrtiko, 10% Aidani - lovely honey, apricot and nutty character with some sweet spice and raisins. A very nice wine. Good acidity which prevents stickiness and cloying. Well balanced with a long, aromatic aftertaste. 17.5
All wines are available to buy exclusively at Amorroso Fine Wines