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Perhaps one of the most surprising discoveries I made during my september visit to Santorini was this 2015 First Release Vin Santo. Although Santorini is known mainly for it's insane Caldera views and it's white wine made from Assyrtiko, as a former holding of the Venetian empire and the Catholic Church (!!!), Vin Santos from Italy were well known and appreciated on the island. It wasn't until the late 20th century that the island started producing it's own. As best said by the current owner Mattheos Argyros, who has now completely taken over the estate since his father's recent passing: "My father, Yiannis Argyros, was amongst the first – if not the first – who bottled and labeled Vinsanto. My father’s passion to produce a higher quality Vinsanto prompted him to age our Vinsanto longer and longer to help realize the potential of this very special wine. My father also developed a technique of choosing different parcels to source the grapes for our Vinsanto and of blending different barrels to come up with a recipe that he passed on to me… a family secret!" As per Stefanos Georgas, winery director with whom I visited and tasted with, the First Release is made from a strict selection of excessively old Assyrtiko, Aidani and Athiri vineyards in Episkopi, two hundred year old minimum, specifically earmarked for this style. Harvested at very deep ripeness, almost a month after the main picking date, giving insanely low yields. The grapes are sun dried on the ground for ten days, natural fermentation and three years of ageing in old, open concrete vats, with additional aging for four years in old wooden vats. Hence, the colour skews dark amber with a surpisingly light body clocking in at 13% abv with a stunning 250gms of RS! However, due to it's incredible FRESH ACIDITY, THE SUGAR IS BARELY DISCERNABLE with notes of orange zest and fig. At the winery, the wine is paired with an exquisite dark chocolate that they coproduce with an Austrian Chocolatier (!!!) made with dark chocolate and orange zest, a match made in heaven! I tasted many Vin Santos in Santorini but this one is in a league of it's own! Giselle Hamburg
Just in time for Fondue season, we found this delightful, AFFORDABLE Swiss Chasselas from Geneva! Chasselas is the main white grape found in the Geneva and Vaud region just to the east and north. It is the primary wine for fondue, both to drink and add to the pot to get the burnt bottom softened for scooping up. (Kirsch is also used for the latter purpose) Fragrant like a mountain meadow and stream, it's crisp and lightly pettilant upon opening, perfect for all manner of fatty cheese and fried foods as well as greens and light fish. Giselle Hamburg
Disznóko estate is named after the vineyard of Disznóko, first recorded in 1413. The name Disznóko means "wild boar stone", referring to a large volcanic rock found at the heart of the vineyard or according to some geographers to the shape of the hill where the vineyards are planted. Most of Disznoko's vineyards were picked as First Growths at the 1735 Classification of Tokaj (over 100 years prior to that of Bordeaux!) The 2013 Aszu has hit the sweet spot of perfect balance between its vibrant acidity and delicate sweetness with layer upon layer of complexity. A blend of 75% Furmint, 15% Zéta & 10% Hárslevelu; the late ripening and development of botrytis in 2013 produced intense notes of citrus and white flowers evolving in the glass into stony minerality and luscious apricot with a satiny texture and long finish. Ethereal yet concentrated and absolutely elegant. Giselle Hamburg
Situated in the heart of the wine-growing zone of Crete, in Dafnes of Heraklion, on hill slopes at an altitude of 350 - 450 meters. The terroir of the Dafnes region is characterized by limestone soil and has a long viticultural history since the Venetian rule in Crete. Dafne is the name of the winery's village as well as the laurel tree the nymph Daphne was transformed into after rejecting Apollo's advances (hence the laurel leaves on the label). Douloufakis is one of the oldest wineries on the island and certified organic. Their Vidiano explodes with aromas of white flowers, herbs, pears, citrus and wet rocks. The palate is medium bodied, citrusy & herbal with ripe pear and a slightly bitter, mineral, long finish. For lovers of Assyrtiko and Albarino. Serve with pork roast with leeks or octopus with chickpeas and peppers. Giselle Hamburg
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. They release their appellation Goumenissas with significant bottle aging for a true representation of the wine as it should be enjoyed unfined and unfiltered with minimal sulfur at bottling.. A blend of 80%Xinomavro and 20% Negoska, the nose is redolent of tomato leaf, wet earth, black cherries and a touch of black pepper. High 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 roast pork with leeks & mushrooms as well as wild boar with chestnuts and olives.GH
No. 3 is from Balaton, a collaboration with Philipp Oser of Villa Tolnay. Philip Oser originates from Switzerland and started Villa Tolnay on the shores of Lake Balaton in 2004. Here, Oser grows Riesling and Furmint in rich basalt soils. The vineyards stretch up Csobanc hill, the remains of a magnificent volcanic mountain surrounded by the sedimentary deposits of the former Pannonian Sea. The distinct minerality in these soils make the Lake Balaton region a very special place to make wine. The wine undergoes spontaneous/native fermentation partly in used Stockinger barrels or Hungarian oak and partly in stainless steel.
Is it an Orange wine? Is it a Rose? It has 3 hours skin contact and 9 months on the lees in amphora...but from a pale red grape called Liatiko (the main red grape of Crete). Hence the name given to the winemaker by his neighbors: Little Troublemaker! New young blood Isidoros is shaking things up on the Sitia plateau in Crete above the main Capital of Heraklion up in the mountains. Grown on shale and limestone soils at 800m elevation from ancient 100-200 year old vines, they are hand harvested at dawn to avoid the heat and wild fermented. Unfined and unfiltered. after it's 9 months in amphora, it spends another 10 months in bottle with minimal addition of sulfites. Regardless of what you call it, it busts a move right out of the glass full of herbs, rocks and orange zest, tart pomegranate and sheer delightful caprice...Little Troublemaker!!! Giselle Hamburg
100% Moschofilero from central Arcadia in the Peloponnese, home to the god Pan (as pictured on the label) along with dryads, nymphs and other spirits. This is a brand new cuvee of a couple of hours skin contact, fermented in a concrete egg, bottled unfined and unfiltered. The wine has an ever so slightly peachy appearance and displays aromas of crushed herbs along with the grape's classic floral notes. GH
Hailing from Thessaly in the foothills of Mount Olympus. Microcosmos is made from younger vines at an altitude of 300m on extremely flinty soils with native yeast fermentation aged in stainless steel tanks. Aromas of white rocks, citrus and herbs confirm a juicy yet vibrant palate with medium body and flavors of citrus, green apple, flinty minerality and green herbs. A perfect winter weight white with plenty of lift to cut through fatty dishes; for lovers of cool vintage white Rhones and Burgundies.
A newer release from Christos Zafeirakis, Prologue is a sparkling rosé made with the traditional method and is a 50/50 blend of Limniona and Assyrtiko. Clocking in as an Extra Brut with 4 grams dosage after spending almost 2.5 years on the lees. Showing a pale salmon robe, Prologue is super zesty and bright with notes of citrus, wild strawberries and yeasty brioche underscored by a cool minerality and long finsh with a lively mousse. An ethereal yet laser focused sparkler capable of giving your well known rose champagnes a serious run for the money; perfect for Thanksgiving dinner! Giselle Hamburg
From a family owned winery up in the hills behind the capital Heraklion in Crete, "Semissis" (meaning "ancient gold coin") is a blend of two aromatic white grapes, Malvazia and Vilana. As per the winery: " Semissis was one of the gold coins of Byzanteum; 2 Semissis were worth one Nomisma, just like the two exquisite varieties in this wine". Malvazia has an intensely fruity character and the Vilana which is extremely rare, is referred to as the Queen or Riesling of Cretan white varietals bringing high acidity and floral aromatics. After fermentation in stainless, the wine stays on the lees for 4 months before bottling. The result is a golden blend of jamine and ripe peach, a pure delight! Giselle Hamburg