Lighting of the Olympic torch in Ancient Greece

Hellenic Hits

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In honor of our new Greek selections, we look to the Ancient Olympics and Mythology for inspiration. Our 5 new wines hail from the North, the Peloponnese ( the hand ) and an island as we embark on our own Odyssey. Starting with our wines from nearby the birthplace of the Olympics, we head to the Peloponnese to the land called Arcadia. In ancient mythology, Arcas was a son of Zeus, a hunter who became King of Arcadia. It is also the birthplace of Pan the mythic half man/half goat. Pan’s homeland – and the main seat of his worship – was Arcadia, the mountainous, wild, and rustic central region of Peloponnese. Here the god spent most of his days wandering the forests, playing haunting melodies on his pipes, chasing nymphs, and taking naps in secluded places during the heat of the noontide. This is the inspiration for our first wine:

The Magic Flute

TROUPIS PITYS RINITIS

Troupis Winery is located in the heart of Mantinia at an altitude of 700 meters in the region of Fteri or “fern”.

The continental climate together with the soils of the high Mantinia plain, which are a well-drained and clay-rocky lead to the production of exciting, aromatic white wines.

Troupis’ crisp Assyrtiko is fermented in stainless steel tank and displays the slight perfumes of the surrounding Arcadian underbrush and bramble. An unusual retsinated version of Assyrtiko from high altitude vineyards, the wine captures the thrill of schussing down a mountain slope surrounded by pine trees in the early morning sun.  As one famous olympic skier said :" You have to be a little crazy to be a downhill skier."

HERAKLIA AGIORGITIKO

Traveling a little farther northeast to Corinthia, we arrive at the single woman winery of Heraklia. Corinth is reknowned for its hero Bellophron , son of Poseidon who thanks to Athena was able to tame and ride the winged horse Pegasus and kill the Chimera tri-headed beast.  Just as singleminded, Anna Heraklia started the winery herself with her family's plots behind the house, using minimal intervention and traditional organic farming practices. Her wine is a great showcase for Greece's most widely planted grape, Agiorgitiko.

Bellophron slaying the Chimera

SARRIS ROBOLA OF CAPHALONIA

Moving west from Corinthia to the port town of Patras, we hop a ferry to the Island of Caphalonia in the Ionian sea just south of Corfu and Albania. From a sommelier turned winemaker, Panos Sarris has taken over his family's vineyards and created the domaine instead of selling their grapes to the local coop.

View from Fagias

Vineyards are located in “Panochori” and “Fagias”, covering 2.2 acres planted in early 1980s and consisting entirely from Robola vines, an indigenous variety that is grown exclusively on the island?, and is recognized world-wide as one of the finest white varieties. In 2012 and 2013, Sarris won Decanter's Gold Medal.

“Fagias” is the heart of the zone of Robola and is a place of wild beauty with magnificent views laying on the steep slopes of Mount Enos at an altitude of about 700 meters, with limestone ground. The harsh landscape that is organized in terraces, the intense sunshine throughout the year, the rich soil, the forest of black pine that lays just above, the sea breeze that comes from the coast and the well drained ground are all factors which determine the distinguished style of this exceptional vineyard.

TATSIS YOUNG VINES XINOMAVRO

From Caphalonia we hop another ferry up the coast to the northern border with Albania and disembark at Igoumenitsa. From there we drive northeast towards Greece's second city Thessaloniki and head up into the mountains of western Macedonia. We arrive at Goumenisa, the ancient capital of Macedon and the seat of the Greek Orthodox diocese. Here, the brothers Tatsis have expanded their grandfathers' domaine since taking over in 1996. In 2002, they converted to biodynamic viticulture.

Xinomavro (greek for acid black) is a dark-skinned grape variety widely planted in northern Greece. The variety is highly regarded in its native Greece as the finest red wine the country has to offer. With its characteristically high tannin and acidity, it is often compared to the famous Barolo wines from Piedmont, Italy. There has even been past suggestion of a possible relationship between Xinomavro and Nebbiolo. It's classic descriptors are of tomato leaf, prunes and strawberries. In order to tame the young Xinomavro, Goumenisa allows for the blending of a minimum of 20% Negoska.  Negoska's rich, dark-fruit laden palate and earthy characters, comparatively low acid and soft tannins more than compensate for Xinomavro's incredibly high acidity and light color.

Local storytelling says that wines from the indigenous Greek varieties of Xinomavro and Negoska were the wines of choice of Philip, the King of Macedonia, father of Alexander the Great. Further to this, legend also has it that great quantities of wine from the region were transferred during the 1st World War to France because it was so exquisite.

King Phillip and Alexander the Great

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DOMAINE NERANTZI "POLIS"

We end our odyssey by driving straight east in Macedonia to the town of Serres near the Bulgarian border. Albeit a young winery having started in 1988, they have made a name for themselves by reviving lost indigenous varietals and creating the first Serres PDO wine.

"Our land," explains the winemaker, "has been inhabited since the era that human beings from hunter-gatherers switched to farming. Theye started storing the food and created the first human societies called “ polismata” or “ polis”. Pentapolis is the name of the village where our vineyards and winery are located and we dedicated one of our wines by giving it the name “ Polis”, in order to honour the wine growers of this land throughout the centuries."

"Polis" is an interesting blend of Malagousia, Assyrtiko and Asprouda, the latter being one of the indigenous grapes they revived. It adds body and weight to the elegant Assyrtiko , in short fleshing out the wine.

We leave on this last note from our winemakers: “When I walk through the vineyards I feel the untold and lost stories,  the ones that have not even arrived to become myths. I think of the myths, particulary the king of Idones, Lykourgo that captivated Dionysus and forced him to work in the vineyards. I think of the mythical Orpheus that climbed Mountain Paggaion with his lyre in his hands. I think of the myth of Sileas who forced passers-by to work in the vineyards."

Statue of Dionysus, God of wine

 

 

Domaine Tatsis (Goumenissa, Greece) 2017 Macedonia (Greece) /Negoska 'Yong Vines'

From Goumenissa in central Macedonia, the ancient capital of Macedon and birthplace of Alexander the Great. One of the first Greek wineries to convert to organic viticulture in the 90s, Domaine Tatsis  can easily be seen as traditionalist in nature but they constantly experiment, doing long macerations of their native white varieties and long élevage for roses. They release their appellation Goumenissas with significant bottle aging for a true representation of the wine as it should be enjoyed. A blend of  80%Xinomavro and 20% Negoska, the nose is redolent of tomato leaf, red cherries, hazelnuts with a touch of black pepper.  Intense acidity and structure from the Xinomavro paired with the higher alcohol yet soft tannins from the Negoska dances on the tongue like a gymnast flipping through the air. For lovers of  Nebbiolo & Tuscan Sangiovese. Pair with local dishes like pork with leeks & mushrooms as well as wild boar with chestnuts and olives.GH

  • red
  • 27 in stock
  • $19.99

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Troupis Winery NV Arcadia (Greece) Assyrtiko Retsinated 'Ritiniti

From central Arcadia in the Peloponnese, home to the god Pan along with dryads, nymphs and other spirits. Pine resin addition goes a long way back in Greece as it was used to protect the wines from oxidation during antiquity. Honoring that tradition, Troupis vinifies the Assyrtiko variety with minimal intervention and creates the Pitys Ritinitis retsina. The name Pitys comes from the only Oread nymph who accepted the love of the satyr Pan, but Voreas, his rival, threw her off a cliff and killed her. Earth felt sorry for Pan and transformed her into a pine tree. Aromas of pine, citrus, herbs,  white flowers, stone fruits, with notes of mastic and lavender that follow. The palate is medium bodied, with lively acidity and a lasting finish. Definitely an elegant and restrained approach to Retsina. Perfect with grilled trout and white meats, sheep and goat cheeses and stuffed vegetables. Perfect for brunch also with it's low abv and bright profile.

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  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $21.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Halkia Agiorgitiko 2019 Corinthia (Greece) Agiorgitiko

Anna Halkia is a small organic female grower and winemaker in Corinth, Nemea, the largest winemaking region of Greece and home to the Agiorgitiko grape (which is the most planted red Greek grape). Anna grew up in Australia with her immigrant parents, and moved back to Nemea as an adult. In the early 2000s, she decided to create a basic winemaking facility in the back of her house, where the family’s vineyards are located. The lack of investment forced her to rely on basic technology and natural winemaking. There was no surplus of funds to buy lab yeasts and enzymes, which a consulting oenologist had advised her to do, so necessity turned her to wild fermentation and lo-fi winemaking. Her wines, naturally, earned a following, due to their raw expression of the organic fruit. Anna also applied and received her organic certification.Showing a deep, opaque ruby robe, the nose reveals aromas of dusty plums, blackberries and a profound earthiness. The palate is enveloped with blackberries, currants, black pepper & prune compote bathed with bright acidity and velvety tannins. Powerful yet lithe like an equestrian show jumping.  Fire up the grill and throw on some herb crusted lamb chops or  barbeque as well as lasagna or Pastitio , the Greek version.

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  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $24.99

Sarris Robola 2019 Cephalonia (Greece) Robola

Robola is considered the queen grape of the Ionian islands, and Panos Sarris vinifies it naturally from his family’s old, terraced,ungrafted vines, showing its crunchy and maritime character in all its purity.  1/3 foot stomped and skin macerated for 3 days, then pressed with the rest and spontaneously fermented with no temperature control, with half fermenting in neutral oak and the rest in stainless steel, until bottled with minuscule sulfites.  For lovers of minral driven Sancerres and Santorini Assyrtikos: Waves of herbs, wet stones, sea spray, lime and lemon zest blast the nose and palate.  Intense minerality and crisp acidity rounded out from the neutral barrels coat the palate with a lingering saline finish....Hoist the sails & crack open  the oysters and shellfish towers, grilled octopus slathered in olive oil and herbs.

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  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $24.99

Nerantzi 2017 Macedonia (Greece) Malagousia/Assyrtiko/Asprouda

From Northern Macedonia near the border with Bulgaria. Nerantzi is an organic producer on a mission to revive long lost indigenous  varieties using indigenous yeasts and Balkan oak for their cooperage. Lying at an altitude of 300 meters in the foothills of Mount Menoikio, the soils are calcareus sandy loam.  More importantly is what lies hidden within the soil: layer upon layer of ancient pottery where the vineyards are planted! One could say that part of the domaine's terroir is the patrimonial history of Greece itself.A blend of 40% Malagousia/ 30% Assyrtiko/ 30% Asprouda, cofermented then aged in stainless and the Asprouda in new oak barrels. For lovers of fuller bodied white Rhones; with heft and structure underpinned by a streak of minerality and acidity. Flashing rays of gold, the nose reveals aromas of lemon yogurt, white flowers and wet rocks.The palate reveals flavors of white and yellow fleshed fruit with a saline  backbone and  juicy acidity. A very long lived finish just begs for some grilled lobster, squid or swordfish as well as dishes with white sauces and asparagus.

GH

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $20.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur