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Raising a glass to Greek wine, spirits and beer March 28, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Shows & Conferences, Wine And Spirits.
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Oenorama Wine Exhibition offers a chance to taste a large variety of Greek and foreign wines

Held every other year, leading wine exhibition Oenorama is on this weekend at the MEC Exhibition Center in Paeania. Beginning today, the ninth edition of this major exhibition unites no fewer than 170 Greek winemakers – a record number which reflects the country’s current dynamic in the wine industry.

Organized by Vinetum, Oenorama brings together more than 250 exhibitors, including producers of wine, spirits and beer as well as a viti-vinicultural exhibition until Sunday. The trade show features established as well as emerging local winemakers. Also participating in the exhibition are 15 wine and spirit importing companies.

Following the exhibition’s last edition in 2006, the “Winetasting Square” returns to Oenorama. This time round, the space will have 300 top labels on display, with detailed information on each bottle. This tasting platform will enable Greek and foreign visitors to gain a comprehensive picture of Greek wine produce.

28-03-08_greek_wine.jpg  Besides increasing local amateur and professional interest, buyers and members of the press are expected from a number of countries, including Belgium, France, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Estonia, the USA, Canada, Britain, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Ukraine and Slovenia. Also on the program of events, the showcasing of a grape-collecting machine which will be unveiled in Greece for the very first time, along with special tasting sessions and a lecture.

MEC Exhibition Center, 301 Lavriou Avenue, Paeania, Attica.

Related Links > www.oenorama.com

Archaeological excavations at the areas of Hellenic Cosmos March 20, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece.
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In the summer of 2007, in the areas of the FHWʼs Cultural Centre Hellenic Cosmos, archaeologists unearthed important antiquities that contribute significantly to the study of Attica in the Byzantine and the post Byzantine period.

MEDIEVAL WINE PRESS > THE AREA AND EXCAVATION RESEARCH > The area of the excavation is on the property of the Foundation of the Hellenic World, on 254 Pireos Street, behind the Athens School of Fine Arts. Significant antiquities were unearthed during the works for the construction of the new facilities of Hellenic Cosmos.

The excavation researches were conducted initially by the 16th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities and then by the 1st Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities. Thanks to the intense efforts of the Archaeological Service and the unconditional and direct assistance by FHW, the excavations were completed in short time and with remarkable diligence.

THE FINDINGS > Eight walls were found that defined two square areas, with good quality plaster on the interior surface of walls and the floor. Area II partly overlaps area I on its northeastern part. At that point a cistern was discovered, constructed in the shape of a pithos, with diameter of 1,35 m. maximum, a mouth of 0,55 m. and 1,95 m. deep. The cistern communicated with the two areas through canals of triangular cross section, approximately 0,20 m. wide and has good quality plaster on its interior surface. The bottom of the cistern creates a small cavity with a cornice approximately 0,15 m. wide. Three carelessly constructed walls have been revealed to the east of the two areas.

20-03-08_fhg.jpg  A significant amount of pottery dated to the Late Classical/Hellenistic Period was found in the area (mainly small fragments of black glazed pottery), as well as a large quantity of Byzantine glazed pottery (with burnished polychrome and monochrome ware) and kitchen ware of the Middle and Late Byzantine Period (11th-14th century). The intact vases found in the cistern were of particular importance. All in all, we cannot distinguish a clear stratigraphy in the excavation area, since the pottery sherds appear to be disturbed. On the upper strata we detect traces and findings of the Middle Byzantine Period (15th-17th century).

EVALUATION > During the excavations it was evaluated that this was a workshop for the production and storage of food. Based on the findings it was interpreted as a wine press, with two areas for pressing grapes (“lenos”) and a cistern (“hupolenion” a wine-vat), where must was collected. The two lenoi were used successively.

This was a complex workshop area, which was most probably used during the 11th-13th/14th century, while there are elements to suggest a later use, during the Middle Byzantine Period.

The morphology and variety of the findings, pottery in particular, as well as the morphology of the construction, lead us to the conclusion that the wine press is an important monument that should be systematically studied and methodologically evaluated.

We will be able to answer these questions regarding the exact date of the construction and the various stages of its use and operation after a careful examination of the findings.

Foundation of the Hellenic World, 38 Poulopoulou Street and 254 Pireos Street, Athens, tel 212 2543800.

Related Links > http://www.fhw.gr

Greek wine producers toast increased business February 13, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy, Wine And Spirits.
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Greek wine producers toast rise in consumption and promotion > Bucking the European trend, the consumption of wine has increased in the Greek market in recent years, reaching 3.7 million hectoliters, from 3.2 million hl in 2005, a Hellastat survey suggested.

Today in Greece there are 300 varieties of grape cultivated by 150,000 farmers, with production reaching 400 wine producers, the survey adds.

In the 1990s, the number of wine producers rose significantly. Furthermore, several local companies have been applying restructuring programs in order to improve their internal operations, production costs and the quality and variety of their products.

In 2006, the volume of Greek production fell to 3.9 million hl (a 4.72 percent decline from 2005). Some 90.5 percent of production concerned table wine, which has remained virtually the same over the last few years. Despite the drop in production over the 2000-2005 period, there has been a gradual rise in reserves, reaching 282,200 tons in 2005. However in 2006 reserves declined to just 225,800 tons.

In the 2005-06 season, Greek wine exports fell to 315,000 hl, a decline of 9.5 percent from 2004-05, while imported quantities came to 265,000 hl.

The challenges for the market are multiple, say the companies participating in the survey. The sector needs more favorable regulations from the European Union, such as a ban on using sugar for enriching wine and promotion of European wine in third countries, to name just two. In addition, the sector is targeting an increase in consumption by young people, the development of organic vines and the improvement of marketing practices for the promotion of the name and the quality of Greek wine on both the local and the international markets.

Warm up to winter reds made in Greece November 1, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Wine And Spirits.
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Even though it is still autumn, it is better to start stocking up. Winter is a much better time than summer to be sampling red wines. Many new releases are coming out and it’s red wine weather. Here are some of the latest reds that have crossed my palate and are worth mentioning.

Ammos, Terra Leone, Palivou Estate 2003, Nemea, Greece, Alcohol Volume 14% > George Palivos is one of the Greek wine industry’s most dynamic characters. A fourth generation grower and winemaker, he grew up playing between rows of vines in the family vineyards; his future was never in doubt. Climate, soil and cultivation methods result in the production of high-quality grapes. Planted on light, sandy soil on the Ancient Nemea Valley slopes, a very slow yield showcases Agiorgitiko at its best. The result is a dark coloured, loose and thick-skinned grape with strong tannins and concentrated flavour, suitable for ageing.

This wine has a dark and deep colour with an intense fruity nose of cherries, wild berries and baked raisin in balance with the characteristics of vanilla, dried fruits and chocolate that come from the lengthy ageing process, mostly in French and, sometimes American, oak barrels. Strong, assertive tannins that still require time to smooth out. It has a nice acidity about it and a sweet, ripe, fruit aftertaste. This is definitely a wine that can be enjoyed now but will still be appreciated after some more time in the cellar. Enjoy at 16 degrC with yellow soft cheese but best with stewed beef or grilled lamb served with light sauces.

2004 Katogi Averoff – Strofilia, Metsovo, Greece, Alcohol Volume 12.5% > In 2002 Yiannis Maltezos, Vasilis Vlachos and Achilleas Lampsidis announced a merger with Metsovo’s groundbreaking Katogi winery. The move created one of Greece’s most dynamic and varied portfolios and brought two formerly quirky producers solidly into the New Greek mainstream.

The wine, a blend of more than 90% Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot, is classic wooded Cabernet. After 12 months in oak, the nose has vanilla, fruit and spice in equal strengths. Despite ample alcohol and tannin, leather succumbs to fruit and results in an overall soft mouth-feel. It is a long, prickly finish in which acidity prevails over light, newish oak. It was excellent with goat meat baked in a wood-fire oven, at 18 degrC.

2004 Ktima Driopi, Reserve, OPAP, Peloponnese, Alcohol Volume 14% > Driopi Estate winery is the enterprise which, in 2004, consolidated the partnership between the wine-producers Yiannis Tselepos and Alexandros Avatangelos. Both friends shared their passion for the utilisation of Greek varieties and decided to focus on the red grape Agiorgitiko. The location, named Koutsi, in the Nemea area, was selected for the establishment of the estate as it favours the production of long-ageing wines. The 2004 reserve is only the second vintage. The colour is a deep ruby red.

This is a generous wine that combines lusty tannins with an abundance of ripe fruit, enriched by hints of eucalyptus and green pepper. It is very smooth and has a velvety finish. It will repay several years cellaring. An excellent red enjoyed with my chateaubriand at 18 degrC.

2004 (non reserve) Ktima Driopi, Alcohol Volume 14% > Ruby tints in colour and the aromas start with cherries and dusted oak with hints of cinnamon, liquorice and vanilla. On the palate the wine opens up to a rich, velvety texture with hints of dried cranberry and dates rolled in coconut followed by flavours of raspberries and dark cherries. The finish is long with sweet spice. Another great Nemea enjoyed with BBQ, slightly spiced beef brochettes at 17 degrC.

2004 Avlotopi Cabernet Sauvignon, Regional of Tegea, Arcadia, Domaine Tselepos, Alcohol Volume 14% > Avlotopi is a single vineyard Cabernet at Tegea, made only in those years in which Tselepos considers the conditions to be perfect. This is a superb rare Cabernet, a low key wine, still very young, but complex and deep; aged for 18 months in French oak. The nose is cataclysmic with the scents of mature, sweet, red fruits and spices, while the presence of vanilla and coffee are quite evident. The oak is focused and with bright fruit on the palate and fine-grained tannins, the medium to full-bodied wine is balanced, with volume and increasing on a lasting finish. At 18 degrC, it was best enjoyed with pan-fried steak with light creamy sauce.

2003 Cabernet Merlot, Tegea, Arcadia, Ktima Tselepos, Alcohol Volume 13.5% > A blend of 60% Cabernet and 40% Merlot, kept for 16 months in new French oak, which does little to interfere with the remarkable round fruit his vines produce. Ripe red fruits prevail on the nose with some vanilla nuances. Soft tannins and smooth texture provide a sophisticated showcase for powerful and complex berry and vegetable flavours. One of the friendliest and most sophisticated of Greek Cabs, served at 18 degrC.

Philoxenia and Hotelia Exhibition to open next week October 24, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Shows & Conferences, Tourism.
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This year’s Philoxenia tourism fair, scheduled for November 1-4 at the Helexpo grounds in Thessaloniki, will be hosting 701 Greek and 113 foreign exhibitors from 30 countries, Helexpo President Aristotelis Thomopoulos told a press briefing yesterday.

The organizers estimate that the event will break last year’s record number of 25,000 visitors. The 23rd Philoxenia will also host a number of parallel events, most prominent of which will be the 2nd International Symposium on Gastronomy and Wine Tourism on the evening of the opening day, which will be addressed by a large number of academics and gastronomy experts. Subthemes will include marketing gastronomy and wine tourism, sustainability issues, managing gastronomy and wine tourism, healthy nutrition and nutritional hygiene, with emphasis on the Mediterranean diet and gastronomy.

Also to be touched upon are tourism as a means of preserving national gastronomic heritage, food and wine events, wine tourism as a special form of tourism, and globalization and gastronomy. The event will include visits to the wineries of Halkidiki and Thessaloniki.

Other events will include the Greek tourism awards to 10 destinations and 11 hotels. The award winners were selected following secret inspections by “mystery guests” who visited them as ordinary clients.

Philoxenia will run in parallel with the Hotelia hotel equipment exhibition, to which 110 buyers from 31 countries have been invited.

Related Links > http://www.helexpo.gr/portal/

Art on and in the bottle October 11, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Cyprus, Wine And Spirits.
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Limited edition wine bottles launched in Paphos, Cyprus

Wine containers have always been marked to give the drinker a rough idea of the history of the wine. When excavating the tomb of Tutankhamen, Howard Carter found a stock of small amphoras each inscribed with the vintage, vineyard and name of the winemaker. Then, in the 18th century, labels were introduced made of parchment. Later, when glue was commercially available, labels pasted onto wine bottles became the norm.

Over the years many famous artists have been commissioned to create unique wine labels for such illustrious houses such as Mouton Rothschild, and keeping up the tradition here in Cyprus is young wine maker Angelos Tsangarides in partnership with artist Joep Klinkenbijl.

Angelos, owner of the Tsangarides Winery, last month celebrated the launch of his limited edition wine labels at the Palia Polis Restaurant in Paphos. He had commissioned a triptych from artist Joep Klinkenbijl, which will be now be displayed on the bottles of his 2006 range of excellent Ayios Ephraim: rose, red and white. During the cocktail reception, the artist then offered the art work up for auction, which went on to generate much needed funds for the Paphiakos Animal Welfare Charity.

Just for the record, there have been some minor scandals regarding the use of risque artwork on wine labels. A fine example has to be the launch made in the 1980s by a now famous winemaker of his sparkling burgundy carrying the name Rene Pogel. This seemed innocent enough and sales went very well until, that is, someone worked out what Rene Pogel meant when spelt backwards. The wine then had to be hastily withdrawn, but unfortunately I have never seen the label used to accompany the bottle, this I believe could be a real collector’s item now.

Tsangarides Winery > Lemona Village, Paphos. Opening hours Saturday and Sunday 9am-6pm or during the week by appointment. Tel: 26 722777 or 99 459232.

One of the Cyprus top wineries uses most varieties available October 7, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Cyprus, Wine And Spirits.
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Aes Ambelis Winery > It was always obvious that the Aes Ambelis winery would progress. Since the late eighties, when it was founded, the aim was set: unique wines of premium quality.

George Tripatsas, the Director, said that the winery’s whites and reds were the house wines at many od the leading hotels in Cyprus since late 90′s. The Xynisteri-based dry white had a refreshing tropical fruit taste and the Chardonnay a strong, pink grapefruit flavour. Cretan Savvas Fakoukakis, partner and winemaker, puts emphasis on achieving aromatic complexity and rich, full flavours. For the reds in particular, ageing in fine, new, French oak barrels and cellaring the bottles in their underground cellars contributes extensively to the rich and unique character of his wines.

This modern winery is distinct in architectural style, and the estate is located on the slopes of Kalo Chorio Orinis in the Nicosia district, just 28 km from the capital. Vineyard management is the key phrase that George repeats time after time. And he has actually confessed that he believes the status his wines have achieved is down to this practice.

The winery uses most of the grape varieties available on the island, a combination of local and international varieties. Xynisteri and Semillon are used for the Aes Ambelis dry white, while the red Aes Ambelis is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Mourvadre and Maratheftiko. The cosmopolitan Chardonnay, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon form the elite of the varietals. Recently, Aes Ambelis launched Liastos, a dessert wine made with Muscat of Alexandria and the Grand Gold Medalist medium dry rose.

Talking about medals, Aes Ambelis has won awards for wines other than the rose: three gold medals and a silver medal at the Cyprus Wine Competition, a competition that only began last year. No wonder I call this winery the “awards winner”.

2006 Aes Ambelis Chardonnay, Paphos Regional, Alcohol Volume 13.5% > The batonage method was applied, a technique where the wine while ageing on the lees is hand stirred weekly to promote depth and longevity, using new oak barrels for maturing the wine for at least six months. Clear light gold colour, the hue has a bright gold colour on the rim. The wine opens with a touch of creamy aromas of citrus, orange blossoms, ripe peach and red apples on a tropical background and vanilla. The medium body mouthfeel features sweet citrus, ripe peach, lemon/lime and a touch creamy on the finish. Balanced acidity and fruit and toast. Serve not too cold at 11 degrC enjoyed with salad and grilled chicken, scallops in white wine and spinach, pastas with salmon in creamy sauce.

2003 Aes Ambelis Cabernet Sauvignon, Limassol Regional, Alcohol Volume 14% > A silver medal winner at both the International Thessaloniki Wine Competition and the 2006 Cyprus Wine Contest. This wine aged for twelve months in new French oak barrels, and subsequently in the bottle. What we have is probably one of the best Cabs on the island, with a robust, deep red colour. Layers of scent and flavour escape on take off, blackcurrant, cherry, black pepper, tobacco and cedar. A velvety feel seduces your mouth with ripe fruit character and chocolate, leading right to a slightly rustic herbaceous landing. Surprisingly the tannins are smooth in this full-bodied wine. Pair it with rich meats like lamb, grilled steak or salmon or with strong cheese like cheddar at 18 degrC.

2006 Aes Ambelis Shiraz, Limassol Regional, Alcohol Volume 14% > Yet another medal winner, silver in Thessaloniki and gold last year in Cyprus. This Shiraz is aged for 14 months in new, French oak barrels. It is a dense, red-purple wine. The nose reeks of sweet, over-ripe, warm climate Shiraz fruit of black plums and blueberries in particular along with white pepper, dried date and hints of oak. A big, soft, sweet, cloying wine on the palate loaded with herby plum fruit and with very appealing ripe, slightly spicy tannins and fairly soft acidity. Oven roasted leg of lamb, rare roast beef, barbecue steak and mature cheese at 17 degrC. Limited.

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