Though they’ve been around for four millennia, Greek wines are a bit overlooked today. Ray Isle investigates, and points out seven varietals to look for.
Greek wines may be the most underrated on the planet. Why is a mystery, as the Greeks have been making wine since around 2000 BC. (Perhaps the oracle at Delphi might have an answer?) Certainly, the quality of Greek wines has improved dramatically since the 1980s, and more of them have been appearing in the United States. For fans of lively whites like Sauvignon Blanc and Albariño, Greek white wines offer astounding quality for a reasonable cost. While Greek reds are not as uniformly compelling, the best bottlings are terrific.
Seven Greek Varietals to Know:
(ah-gee-or-gee-tee-ko): This grape produces lush, velvety reds with black-cherry flavors.
(ah-sir-tee-ko): A source of minerally, bone-dry, citrus-edged white wines.
(ah-thee-ree): Wines from this white variety often have a scent of stone fruits, like nectarines.
(mah-la-goo-see-ah): This melony, jasmine-scented white was on the brink of extinction before winemaker Evangelos Gerovassiliou began growing it again.
(mos-ko-fi-ler-oh): A primarily Peloponnesian white, its wines have tangerine and blossom scents.
(ro-dee-tis): Elegant and light-bodied, this pink-skinned grape produces crisp whites and rosés.
(zhee-no-mav-ro): This red has floral and spice aromas, firm tannins, and vibrant fruit.
Wine grapes are grown, more or less, all over Greece. A few top regions are the Cyclades, especially Santorini, where Assyrtiko and other vines are tied into a basket shape to protect the fruit against the continuous wind; the Peloponnese peninsula, particularly Neméa, which produces full-bodied, juicy reds like Agiorgitiko; and Náoussa in Macedonia, the heart of Xinomavro.