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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

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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.

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.

A toast to late King Otto October 4, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Wine And Spirits.
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In keeping with the Greek theme, what better for the beer of the week than Alpha Beer.

It’s brewed by the Athenian Brewery in Athens, which also brews the Dutch Amstel brand under licence.

Beer is a relatively new drink in Greece, having been first brewed in 1850 for the first Greek King, Otto, a Bavarian Prince appointed to the throne after Greece obtained independence from the Ottoman Empire.

A refreshing, bitter lager at 5 per cent, is the perfect accompaniment to the myriad things Greeks seem to pop on their ubiquitous charcoal grills. The great thing about Greek beer is that you can buy it almost anywhere, even at the many newspaper kiosks that dot the footpaths.

So here’s a grateful toast to King Otto.

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

Greeks opt for cheaper and red wine September 28, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy, Wine And Spirits.
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One of the most important problems that the Greek wine industry is facing is the absence of a register for vineyards and wine producers, the IOBE report suggests.

Wine consumers are gradually turning to lower-priced products imported from countries outside the European Union as well as to private labels, according to a study by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE). Growth in consumption is expected to continue at least up to 2009.

Bottled wine, particularly red, is the top choice of Greeks. Against this background, imports are showing an average annual increase of 7 percent, while exports are steadily decreasing.

The dynamic entrance to the global market of the so-called “new” countries such as Australia, Chile, Argentina, South Africa and New Zealand, have changed the landscape in the wine market as their production costs are less. Consequently, imports have grown from 20.99 million euros in 1999 to 31.21 million in 2006, whereas exports declined at an average rate of 1.9 percent per year and at end-2005 they totaled 59.67 million, down from 70.27 million in 1999.

The IOBE report shows that domestic demand for bottled wine grew annually at an average rate of 2.3 percent in the period 1999-2005, with turnover amounting to 156 million. In terms of volume, wine consumption is growing at a rate of 7.5 percent annually, while consumption of bulk wine shows a marginal growth of 0.4 percent per year.

Red wine has boosted its market share, from 10.5 percent in 1999 to 21.6 percent in 2005. Wines with Appellation of Origin of Superior Quality have also grown in popularity, from 6.4 percent in 1999 to 10.9 percent in 2005. In contrast, dessert wines are showing a steady annual decline of 7 to 9 percent.

The IOBE report highlights the domination of the industry by five companies with a total market share of 64.5 percent. It adds that the industry faces three main problems: the lack of a register for wine producers, the high prices of local bottled wines in restaurants, and the inadequacy of checks to curb the use in wine production of the same grapes two and even three times.