Chandos House in central London played host today to Decanter’s “Discoveries from Greece, Italy and Bulgaria” tasting. Financed by the three countries, together with the European Union, the tasting provided an opportunity to sample wines from 20 small wineries.
With each winery offering four wines, this was a manageable-sized tasting, if a little crowded at times. Even so, it’s not difficult to experience tasting fatigue, so I concentrated on the offerings from the Greek producers.
First up was Domaine Skouras, with acclaimed winemaker George Skouras present and pouring. Established in 1986 in the Peloponnese, the French-trained winegrower exploits cool high altitude spots to produce quality fruit. Skouras wines already have a following both domestically and internationally.
The white Moschofilero 2012 was crisp and refreshing with concentrated peach and citrus flavours and a long finish. The red wines were based on the Aghiorghitiko grape, with the Megas Oenos 2010 incorporating 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. Each of the reds were structured and concentrated with dark black fruits and varying degrees of vanilla and developing flavours such as mocha and leather. Based on this sampling, Skouras wines are highly recommended and well worth searching out.
Mediterra Winery is based in Crete and showed white wines based on Vilana, Vidiano and Assyrtiko and a red (Mirambelo 2010) based on Kotsifal. The bottles have elegant labelling and the contents do not disappoint, especially the complex and concentrated Mirambelo 2010.
Also based in Crete is the Alexakis Winery which, though family-owned, is the largest winery on the island. With size has come the challenge of working with contract farmers, which may explain why the wines seemed more competent than exciting.
Based in northern Greece, the Alpha Estate utilises the skills of Makis Mavridis (viticulturalist) and Angelos Latridis (oenologist). Privately owned they seek to make the most of indigenous grapes such as Malagouzia and Xinomavro, sometimes in combination with international varietals such as Syrah and Merlot. The dense and complex Xinomavro Reserve Vielles Vignes 2009 makes a compelling case for this varietal to be more well known and available.
On hand to help explain the story of Greek wines was Konstaninos Lazarakis MW, who led a tasting masterclass together with Luca Gardini (who discussed Emilia Romangna). Konstaninos’ deep knowledge of Greek wines was combined with some light-hearted storytelling – an ideal way to keep the audience interested.