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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.


Cabernet Sauvignon may have Greek roots September 24, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Wine And Spirits.
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Cabernet Sauvignon is a direct descendant of an obscure Greek wine grape known as Volitsa, a new book suggests, Decanter UK magazine reports.

In Desert Island Wines, Miles Lambert-Gocs proposes that Cabernet Sauvignon made its way to Europe via the coastal region of what is now Albania. He believes this link has never been explored. Lambert-Gocs became convinced that Volitsa was the modern name for an ancient grape called Balisca. He then found relevant references in the Roman classical texts of Pliny and Columella. When combined with visual comparisons to modern Cabernet Sauvignon, he believes this evidence is enough to merit exploring the DNA.

‘I have pointed out a solid possibility of Cabernet’s tie to antiquity and classical Greece,’ Lambert-Gocs told Decanter. ‘It will be good to have DNA proof, sort of a “family tree”, and I have provided a jumping off point.’

However, wine boffins are sceptical. ‘I’m not convinced that there’s a close connection at all,’ said grape geneticist Carole Meredith, Professor Emerita at University of California, Davis. In 1996, Meredith discovered that Cabernet Sauvignon is a hybrid of Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc. She said comparisons of the DNA profiles of Volitsa Mavri and Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon did not reveal any notable similarity. ‘If there is a connection, it’s not a close one and is no closer than the connections that undoubtedly exist among dozens of European grape varieties.’

Lambert-Gocs says he wrote the chapter precisely to encourage further scientific exploration. ‘Volitsa is not identical to Cabernet Sauvignon. Rather, it is one of Cabernet Sauvignon’s ancestors, and definitely the one that can concretely tie the variety to ancient Greece,’ he said. ‘If this does not motivate ampelographers and geneticists to visit the areas of Greece and Albania that are involved, I don’t know what would.’