Fact Sheet: Greece
A new generation of internationally trained Greek winemakers are scouting out some of the best vineyard sites from Crete to Macedonia and turning out some truly gorgeous wines. Their top offerings aren't cheap, but their prices haven't yet caught up with their remarkable achievements.
Greek Grapes While French grapes like Merlot are now more common in Greece, many producers are using indigenous Greek grapes like Naoussa's spicy red Xinomavro and the dark, perfumed Agiorghitiko of Nemea. In whites, look for wines made from the rich Malagouzia or the crisp Assyrtiko.
Food Matches Greece's best modern producers are creating fresher, rounder wines that still retain the grapes' natural acidity to make them perfect for pairing with food.
Names to Know Top importers include Athenee, Fantis and Amerikus.
10 Top Bottles
2001 Antonopoulos Adoli Ghis ($14) Made predominantly from the Lagorthi grape, which is grown in the mountain villages of Kalavryta, this exotic white is dry and medium-bodied with a minerally undercurrent and flavors of melon, apple and honeysuckle.
2001 Chateau Carras Malagouzia ($18) This northern Aegean white is produced from organic grapes grown on the slopes of Mt. Meliton. Round and full in the mouth, it has a lean, lively cut of acidity—and a lovely aroma of apple and citrus.
2002 Gai'a Notios ($10) This fresh, aromatic white, blended from the native Moscophilero and Roditis grapes, exudes an intriguing perfume of grapefruit and peach.
2001 Domaine Spiropoulos Meliasto ($10) Here's something different in a dry rosé. This light-bodied wine comes from the central Peloponnese and is marked by a delicate floral bouquet of roses and gardenias.
2000 Estate Averoff Ktima Averoff ($20) Averoff is home to some of the oldest vines in Greece, which produce this Cabernet blend—a top example of a Bordeaux-style Greek red. Along with its silky tannins, it shows off classic notes of plum and cassis.
2000 Karydas Naoussa ($22) Grown in limestone soils in a vineyard planted 23 years ago in the northern region of Naoussa, this noteworthy red is supersoft, with delicate cherry aromas reminiscent of Pinot Noir.
1999 Papaïoannou Estate Nemea ($14) A big, impressive red from Nemea that's just beginning to open up, this wine will benefit from another 5 to 10 years of aging. Give it half an hour in a decanter to unfold aromas of earth and burnt spice.
2000 Tsantali Xinomavro ($15) Produced by one of Greece's top large wineries, this Macedonian red is made from the Xinomavro (the name means "acid, black") grape. It's medium-bodied with luscious notes of blackberry and blueberry.
1999 Cooperative of Samos Nectar ($14) This is a knockout dessert wine and a great bargain as well. Made on the island of Samos, it has walnut and raisin flavors reminiscent of a fine tawny port.
1997 Boutari Grande Reserve Naoussa ($15) This deftly oaked, medium-rich wine from one of Greece's best-known producers is marked by bright notes of red fruit and racy acidity; it seems to grow more luscious when paired with food.