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It’s all Greek to me… again > Wines from an ideal location March 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Wine And Spirits.
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In the world of wine, there is always an opportunity for high-volume, competitively-priced brands. While Greece had been very successful in creating top-quality wines for niche markets, Nemea in the Peloponnese was named the ideal location to build a new winery to achieve this goal. The area is famous for its vibrant red wines, which rely exclusively on the high quality and attractive Agiorgitiko grape variety.

Armed with this information, George Kokotos of Semeli Winery and his friend Mihalis Salas created Domaine Helios. It is located at an altitude of 600m in Koutsi, one of the most celebrated “crus” of Nemea OPAP (Appellation of Origin of Superior Quality). The basic products of Domaine Helios are the regional wines of Orinos Helios, white and red coupled with an appellation Nemea bottling the Domaine Helios Nemea Reserve. The winery is state of the art. And the wines?

2006 Orinos Helios, Regional white of Peloponnese, Semeli Winery, Alcohol Volume 12% > A blend of two grape varieties, Moschofilero and Roditis. The name Roditis comes from rodon meaning rose and most probably derives from the pink-skinned berries. Moschofilero is an indigenous Blanc de Gris grape. The term describes a group of wine-bearing grapes with skin colours that vary from light pink to dark purple. This white has a white-yellow colour with green highlights. Roditis contributes with lemon and orange blossoms, while roses and violets come from the Moschofilero grape. The mouth is round and balanced and the acidity is reasonably balanced, ripe fruit can be found on the palate with a fleshy lemony finish. Serve at 9 degrC as an aperitif, best with oysters, shellfish and fish with exotic medium-spiced dishes.

2004 Orinos Helios, Regional red of Peloponnese, Semeli Winery, Alcohol Volume 12.5% > Made form the Agiorgitiko grape, this is a red wine with a deep violet colour as an indication of youth, with purple highlights. The nose is fruity with plums and maraschino cherries and some vanilla from being aged in French barrels. Medium to full-bodied, it is smooth and soft in the mouth with elegant, round tannins. It is amazing how balanced this wine is between alcohol and acidity. To enjoy it best, serve at 16 degrC with pastas with meat and tomato sauces, charcuterie, and grilled meats.

2004 Orinos Helios, OPAP Peloponnese, Semeli Winery, Alcohol Volume 12.5% > Such a deep ruby colour is again an indication of youth, with purple highlights. Kept in new French oak, on the nose we come across aromas of plums, prunes and maraschino cherries as well as dry fruit, nutmeg and strong vanilla. On the palate, the wine is smooth with subtle tannins. A lingering aftertaste of cherry flavours, this is a fine wine from selected Agiorgitiko grapes from one of the most famous appellations in Greece. The wine is best with grilled red meat and pasta dishes with tomato-based sauces, served at 16 to 18 degrC.

2006 Biblia Chora Estate, Regional white Pangeo, Alcohol Volume 12.5% >
This is one of the best whites of 2006 that I have tried so far, and is the result of a joint venture by Vasilis Tsaktsarlis and Vangelis Gerovasiliou, two of Greece’s best oenologists. Biblia Chora proprietary white wine is a blend of 40% Assyrtiko and 60% Sauvignon Blanc. Assyrtiko is native to the island of Santorini, where it produces some of the world’s most intensely mineral whites, but this producer’s efforts show that it can also create very interesting results in other, less exotic circumstances. In this blend, Assyrtiko contribute aromas of straw and smoke that work nicely with notes of melon, citrus and dried herbs lent by the Sauvignon. There is real substance and heft on the palate, but also sharp definition from bright acidity on the finish, making this a highly versatile wine for simple sipping or serving with a wide range of food. Serve at 10 to 12 degrC. Try it with steamed or baked fish, shellfish and green salads, roast meat and poultry with cream-based sauces.


Cyprus’ novel decision for big projects March 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Cyprus.
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The Cyprus Government has taken a novel decision in giving the entire project for the establishment of a large-scale Cultural Centre to an independent foundation.

The Centre will be located in the part of Nicosia across the road from where the new Finance Ministry building now stands, in the area where the new House of Representatives, the State Theatre and State Art Gallery will be built. The idea is to create a cultural zone in the centre of the capital that would act as a focal point for visitors and residents.

The Centre would feature two concert halls, one with 1,400-seat capacity for concerts, ballet and opera and a 500-seater for smaller musical events, as well as an open air auditorium for big concerts; it will have all the facilities and state-of-the-art equipment of a modern concert hall. Most importantly, it will be designed by an architect of world repute. Some 60 architectural offices entered the competition for the Centre and eight were short-listed for examination by a jury consisting of well-known architects as well as concert hall directors.

This is probably one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken in Cyprus and although the 80 million euros cost would be financed primarily by the government, some EU funds might also be secured and there are plans to secure sponsorship, it will not be managed by the state but by the Cyprus Cultural Foundation (CCF). The Foundation, under the chairmanship of the former executive chairman of Laiki Bank, Kikis Lazarides, a leading businessman with experience of big projects, will manage all facets of the project and administer it when it is completed.

After the unmitigated disaster of the Nicosia General Hospital, which cost the taxpayer almost three times as much as originally planned and whose completion was delayed for years, President Papadopoulos quite rightly decided that the project should not be handled by civil servants, as had been case for the hospital. Not only do they lack the experience and know-how to manage a big project, but most civil servants have no knowledge of the business world, which is essential. What’s more the public sector suffers from very slow decision-making process, with everything having to go through a variety of committees and government departments.

The difference of giving such a project to an independent foundation, which is not subject to bureaucratic procedures and is run by people with business experience, rather than by civil servants, is already becoming apparent. The CCF has achieved in a few months what the state would have needed a couple of years to do and it has also secured the services of a range of experts who will provide invaluable advice, the design competition is already in its final phase. There will also be much better management of the finances and tighter control of the contractors.

This is undoubtedly the way forward for big state projects, which the state sector does not have the flexibility to manage with any degree of competence. The President was absolutely right in giving Cultural Centre project to the private sector.

US citizens to claim property in occupied Cyprus March 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Occupied.
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U.S. Congressman Frank Pallone and 16 other colleagues have introduced bipartisan legislation that would allow US citizens, who own property in the Turkish occupied part of Cyprus, to seek financial remedies with either the current inhabitants of their land or the Turkish government.

The bill “authorises the President to initiate a claims programme under which the claims of US nationals who Turkey has excluded from their property in occupied Cyprus can be judged by the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission (FCSC) and compensated through government-to-government negotiations between the United States and Turkey.”

It also “empowers the US district courts to hear causes of action asserted by US nationals who have been excluded from their property in occupied Cyprus against private persons or entities that occupy or use the property of US nationals in occupied Cyprus.”

Furthermore, it “empowers the United States district courts to hear causes of action asserted by US nationals who have been excluded from property their in occupied Cyprus against Turkey without having to assert those causes of action under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 as amended.”

Pallone is joined in leading this effort by Thaddeus McCotter and the co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, Carolyn Maloney and Gus Bilirakis.

The four lawmakers joined by 13 other original cosponsors, namely Zachary Space, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, John Sarbanes, Henry Brown, James McGovern, Mike Rogers, Diane Watson, Mario Diaz-Balart, Don Payne, Frank LoBiondo, Chris Van Hollen, Shelley Berkley and Michael McNulty.

According to a press release, Pallone, a member of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, said the bipartisan American Owned Property in Occupied Cyprus Claims Act serves as an essential response to ongoing violations of international law, and provides US nationals with long-overdue rights to seek restitution.

He added that it is unconscionable that Turkey, a US ally, who has been, and continues to be, the beneficiary of significant aid and support from this nation, excludes US citizens from property to which they hold lawful titles under the laws of the Republic of Cyprus.

“It’s time Congress vindicate the property rights of US citizens in Cyprus,” Pallone said, adding that he was “encouraged by the strong bipartisan support this legislation has already received” and hoped to continue building support in the coming weeks.

He noted that “through this legislation, Americans who are being denied access to their property and even their ancestral homes will finally be able to seek restitution.”

Pallone first introduced this legislation in the 108th Congress. He worked with Nick Larigakis, Executive Director of the American Hellenic Institute (AHI), and Nick Karambelas, volunteer counsel of AHI, for several months to draft the legislation.

Cyprus prepares to open Limnitis checkpoint March 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Occupied.
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The government of Cyprus proceeded unilaterally with preparations for the opening of the Limnitis crossing point near the northwestern coastal town of Pyrgos, that would allow Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to cross to and from the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus.

Acting President and President of the House Demetris Christofias said that Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat never wanted to open the Limnitis crossing point.

“Talat’s argument that the crossing point would only serve Greek Cypriots, really saddens me deeply”, he said. Christofias added that Talat is using the above argument “as if he is not a Cypriot and as if he does not want both communities to benefit” from the opening of Limnitis.

He hoped that no more excuses would be found by the Turkish Cypriot side for not opening any more crossing points, including the one at Nicosia’s Ledra Street. Answering to questions, he said that Talat’s statement that the Greek Cypriot side has added new demands so that the Ledra crossing point does not open, is wrong.

After demolishing the wall at Ledra Street last week, the government of Cyprus decided to unilaterally proceed with preparations for the opening of more crossing points in Pyrgos and Kokkina areas. The government began cleaning works at the Pyrgos and Limnitis area Tuesday and by Wednesday construction work will begin which will last a few weeks, according to a plan prepared by the Ministry of Communication and Works.

On March 8, the Cyprus National Guard demolished the wall at Ledra Street and the observation post on top of it which was erected soon after the Turkish invasion in 1974.

However, the government clarified that the demolition of the wall does not mean the opening of the crossing point to and from the Turkish occupied areas, unless security issues are addressed.

Turkish Cypriots reject conditions to open crossing March 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Occupied.
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Imagine a wall running through a city, cleaving it in two. No, it is not Berlin of the Cold War era. Rather, it is Nicosia in the present day.

Nicosia, the capital of the Republic of Cyprus, has been divided between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots for decades. The barrier in Nicosia, erected after Turkey invaded the northern part of Cyprus, has been in place since 1974. Last Friday though, Greek Cypriots tore down the wall on Ledra Street.

However, according to Reuters Turkish Cypriot leaders rejected on Tuesday Greek Cypriot conditions on opening a major crossing in Nicosia after tearing down a barrier dividing the capital for almost 40 years.

On March 8, Greek Cypriots demolished the wall on Ledra Street, a thoroughfare running through the mediaeval town, but said civilians could not use it until Turkish troops were removed from the area.

“We do not accept any preconditions,” said Rasit Pertev, senior advisor to Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.

The international community had welcomed the demolition of the wall as a sign of possibly relaunching peace talks on the island, where the division is a major obstacle to Turkey’s aspirations of joining the European Union.

Nicosia has been divided into Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot sections since fighting in the early 1960s, which fanned out across the island after a 1974 Turkish military invasion into the Republic of Cyprus. Turkey keeps about 45,000 troops in the Turkish Cypriot self proclaimed and illegal state in the occupied north area of Cyprus, which is recognised only by Ankara. 

Turkey has not responded to the Cypriot government’s request to pull its military out. Pertev told Reuters Turkish Cypriot leaders had removed a military watchtower from the area and closed all gun placements on surrounding buildings.

“There is no military threat in the area. The Greek Cypriots have not removed their watchtower or gun placements. We call on them to do so as soon as possible,” Pertev said.

Ledra Street is the commercial hub of Nicosia, and draws thousands of shoppers on the southern side of the street daily.

Turkish Cypriot leaders eased restrictions on civilian crossings to the occupied and military controlled north area of Cyprus in 2003 after years of prohibition from the Greek Cypriot government which is internationally recognized.

Lent celebrated in Greek March 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora, Religion & Faith.
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The New Jersey & Staten Island District Choir of the Eastern Federation of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians will present its 17th annual “Spirit of Lent” concert, an annual Lenten choral offering of sacred Greek Orthodox liturgical Lenten hymns, 8 p.m. March 30.

The choir will be accompanied by young singers from the Greek Orthodox communities of Trenton and Westfield. The concert will take place at Kirkpatrick Chapel on the corner of George & Somerset Streets, Rutgers University, New Brunswick. Admission is $10, and is free for children and students with valid ID.

The concert features ancient and modern arrangements of Byzantine hymns traditionally sung in Greek Orthodox churches during the six-week Lenten season, from the Sunday of Orthodoxy through Pascha (Easter), and is a unique opportunity for people unfamiliar with Byzantine church music to experience it for the first time.

Musical selections include “Ina Ti Efrixan,” “Idou O Nimfios Erhete” and “Troparion Tis Kassianis,” all sung during Holy Week; “Potirion,” a communion hymn; “Tin Ahranton Ikona Sou,” sung the First Sunday of Lent, “Anixo To Stoma Mou, Salutations for the Virgin Mary,” sung Fridays during Lent; and “Ayios O Theos, Liturgy of Peace,” sung throughout the year.

“Though religious in nature, these exquisite hymns can strike a chord with any lover of beautiful music,” said Kathryn Athanasoulas, the choral director of Spirit of Lent. Athanasoulas has served as choir director of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church of Westfield for more than 20 years. She has taught vocal music in public schools in Ridgewood and Elizabeth, as well as Pennsylvania, and was an instructor at the American Community Schools of Athens, Greece, for 15 years.

Organ music will be provided by E. Hope Demitry of St. George Greek Orthodox Church, Trenton, where she has played the organ for 40 years. Demitry also has been a music teacher in the Trenton school district for over 35 years.

The New Jersey & Staten Island District is made up of the following Greek Orthodox churches: St. George, Piscatway; St. Demetrius, Perth Amboy; St. George, Clifton; St. Nicholas, Newark; St. George, Asbury Park; Kimisis Tis Theotokos, Holmdel; St. George, Trenton; Holy Trinity, Westfield; and St. Nicholas/Holy Trinity, Staten Island.

The district holds two large-scale concerts annually, “The Spirit of Lent,” and a Christmas concert. The group also provides choral accompaniment during the Greek Orthodox Holy Cross Celebration every September in Asbury Park.

The Eastern Federation of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians is comprised of the 57 parish choirs from the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of New Jersey, which includes the states of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia, as well as Greater Philadelphia. Established in 1977, the organization provides assistance to church musicians by offering educational lectures, workshops, concerts and conferences to increase understanding and appreciation of Greek Orthodox Church music and Greek folk songs.

“Singers, directors, chanters, organists, and clergy all benefit from the work of the EFGOCM,” Athanasoulas said. For more information about “The Spirit of Lent” and to reserve tickets, call Marie Devino at (732) 264-0718.

The Gold of Heinrich Schliemann March 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life.
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St. Petersburg Company Nikola Film starts a project about Heinrich Schliemann (1822-1890), a great adventurer and a self-taught archaeologist, claimed by scientific world as the first “black digger”.

The project has been titled The Gold of Schliemann. World Collection of Antiquities.

Eight films will feature the story of Schliemann. Each of them will be shot in the countries where the archaeologist used to travel: Russia, Greece, China, England, France, Czechia, Germany and Norway. The digging of Troy will be reconstructed in Crimea and Greece.

Heinrich Schliemann will be played by Leonid Yarmolnik.

The shooting starts this week in St. Petersburg. The release of the film is expected by the end of 2007.

Related Links > http://www.nikolafilm.ru