Say “Greek Wine” in a room full of wine geeks, and you’re likely to get a few snickers and a couple references to retsina, the resinated wine-like beverage that has unfortunately defined Greek winemaking for a generation. Though Greece has been making wine since 6500 BC, most Americans haven’t tasted any Greek wine, and the wines that have defined Greece are typically sub-par products that unfairly stigmatize Greek wine as inferior.
The Greek wine industry has undergone tremendous improvements over the past two decades with serious investments in modern wine making technology. The new generation of Greek winemakers are being trained in the best wine schools around the world and their efforts are paying off. By exploring the rich potential of indigenous and international grape varieties, cultivated in some of the world’s most diverse growing environments, Greek wines are emerging to receive the highest awards in international competitions and the world is noticing.
Few importers are bursting out of the gates but a handful are destined to import exclusive Greek wines, introduce these wonderful wines to the American wine community, and educate U.S. wine consumers about the incredible complexity of Greece’s wine industry. I’ve found one – Sonata Importers – that demonstrates the quality inherent in Greece’s modern winemakers. These wines deliver character and distinction, while maintaining excellent value. By targeting the younger generation of winemakers in Greece to develop its portfolio, this importer has developed a line-up that is dramatically different than any other American portfolio of Greek wines.
So next time you’re in your favorite wine shop pass by the Yellow Tail and Barefoot display and ask your wine merchant to recommend his/her favorite Greek wine… you’ll be glad you did! Here are some of my favorites…
Muses Estates 2010 “9 Muses” White $15 (Thivia, Greece, pictured) “An explosive combination of 50% Assyrtiko, 30% Trebbiano, and 20% Sauvignon Blanc give this wine a bright blonde color with greenish hues. It has an intensely floral-fruit bouquet, and a rounded, balanced body with a medium-long finish. It would be an ideal accompaniment to fresh grilled fish, shellfish, green vegetables, and fresh summer fruit.”
Diamantakis 2009 Prinos Red $20 (Crete, Greece) “Spicy nose with dried and preserved red berries and candied cherries. 100% Syrah from Crete… very polished fruit on the palate with more dried and overripe red berries and cherries with mocha and espresso notes. Barrel-aged in French oak delivers a touch of smokiness and vanilla. Integrated tannins and velvety soft on the palate. Great wine with your favorite red meat hot off the grill!”