Hellenic Summer Hits

Ano Syros in picture above/ 6 wineries circled in red from Macedonia (green), Cyclades (blue) and Peloponnese (purple)

As summer kicks off in full July stride, we look to Greece for a plethora of warm weather hits to quench our thirst and pair with outdoor picnics, barbeques and seafood boils galore. We have 2 wines from from each area: from the north in Macedonia , we have a red Xinomavro from the mountains of Goumenissa and a coastal white Malagousia from the eastern region of Kavala. From the central Cyclades islands  we have a white Serifiotiko from Syros and a rose Fokiano from nearby Naxos. Finally, back on the mainland on the Peloponnese peninsula, we have  a skin contact Moschofilero from Mantinea and a light red Agiorgitiko from Nemea.

Kavala vineyards off the coast in picture.
Macedonia is divided into 3 distinct wine regions; Western Macedonia where Xinomavro is King in the appellations of Amydeon, Naoussa and Goumenissa. It is in the latter that we find Tatsis, one of the first organic wineries in Grece.Central Macedonia is centered around Greece's 2nd largest city Thessaloniki and it's southern peninsula fingers. Eastern Macedonia encompasses Serres and Drama in the mountains and Kavala on the coast. it is in the latter that the Malagousia grape found it's rebirth with Tsikrikonis.

Heading south from Kavala to the middle of the Cyclades, we arrive at it's largest island Naxos, which is considered to be it's bread basket with the most vineyards. They tend to be all old bush vine, ungrafted high up in the mountains. Here we find the Fokiano grape used in Ousyra's rose grown near the coast at up to 1200 ft altittude. The grapes are picked in early august to preserve acidity, chilled immediately and transported by boat to the winery on nearby Syros to the northwest. On Syros we find the native grape Serifiotiko, again ungrafted old dry farmed bush vines grown on terraces in the mountains. The Serifiotiko is  definitely on the briny side picking up the salinity from the sea spray and abundant capers that seem to grow in every rock and crevice.

Sailing straight west from Syros across the Aegean, we land on the Peloponnese peninsula. Directly northeast of the city of Tripoli lies the Mantinia plateau, the birthplace of Greece's famed Moschofilero grape. Aromatic and grey/pink skinned like Gewurztraminer or Muscat, it has surprisingly bracing acidity and low alcohol due to the region's cooler temps despite the southerly latitude. It is actually more continental in climate due to the altitude with heavy rains and snow in the winter! A little farther northeast lies Nemea, the home to Agiorgitiko, Greece's most planted grape. It is here that certified organic Halkia makes a summer weight version perfect for summer outtings meant to be served chilled like a dark rose.

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