Cradle of Civilization Tasting on a Friday in January

Dionysus called and tBoW heard. We opened the email from our local wine retailer Woodland Hills Wine Company titled “Greek Night.” The thought there was wine to be tasted from Greece was enough to get our attention. We take WHWC events seriously. They never pierce the vinous veil between plonk and genuine oenophile worthy quaffesence. tBoW circulated the invite to the tasting team and snagged IGTY while Dotoré declined. Both made predictable references to the unlikelihood that decent wine could be made in a country so far south, so dry, so rocky and so…unworthy. Apparently it has been a long time since they located Italy on a map noticing its proximity to the Hellenic penninsula. Things were a bit different at the tasting bar.

Amanda of Wine Wise and Markus Stolz of Athens poured for a group of 20 or so curious snobbos including a few faces from prior tastings. WHWC puts these events on at least once a month and we have reported on several including Louis/Dressner and the eye-popping Riesling tasting in 2011. One of the poppers from the latter is Amanda of Wine Wise. She takes her wine very seriously with much more charm than might be expected from a former attorney who busted out of that dead end choosing wine instead. Obviously, this is a woman for whom the passion word is not trivial. Markus is the broker who brings Greek wines to Wine Wise. He married a Greek woman and moved to Athens to raise a family. He also left another career to represent best winemakers in the new Greek wine movement. Six of the 8 labels – 5 white and 3 red – that were poured came from 3 wineries. All wines made from indigenous grapes that are NOT related to European varietals.

2010 Tetramythokos Roditis Patras
$12: From rocky soil on a “precipitous” 3000′ vineyard overlooking . Tastes like Sauvignon Blanc with grassy flavors. Lean. Mrs. IGTY says chill this down. 12.7%

2010 Mylonas Assytriko Roditis $13: Meant for young consumption says Markus. From more conventional hill country in mid Greece. Roditis is to Greece as Torrontes is to Argentina. Everybody makes wine form the grape therefore it is widely available, in Greece. Similar flavors with a bit more weight. Mrs. IGTY says she would prefer ice cold Vinho Verde. Tough to quibble with that one. I can see the 2012 summer taste-off now: U20 indigenous white wines on ice including Roditis, Vinho Verde, Moscato, and Verdejo. Send in your suggestions! 13%

2010 Kir-Yianni Petra $16: Very perfumed nose. IGTYs said it was like swallowing perfume. Very green, acidic, would be good with food like the dolma and hummus being served at the side table. These wines are for slugging down in the Greek Isles or in an Athens cafe.

2010 Zafeirakis Malagousia
$16: Biggest among the white wines. Golden green color. Oily, chardonnay flavors. Easiest for the IGTYs to like of the lot. I like it but I agree with IGTY; for $16 I might prefer a Muscadet or even a petit Chablis. But, if I was touring the Dodecanese islands off the coast of Turkey with Mrs. tBoW this is what I would be looking for on the wine list. Any of these wines would be acceptable. Good job Markus!

Then things got unexpectedly serious.

2010 Tetramythos Agioritiko Peloponnese $12: Nice dark red color. Nose like Cabernet Franc. Amanda says Cru Beaujolais. Sure, maybe Julienas. Tastes like Cab Franc with solid easy dark cherry flavors. Not fruity. Well balanced. Excellent U20 value. Truly impressive. Bought it.

2008 Zafeirakis Limniona $24: Very nice wine. Bologna, meaty nose. Ginger brownies in the mouth and finish. So it has spicy and choco flavors. Like it! Bravo for Greek wines. This just makes traveling to Greece all the more urgent. Bought it.

2008 Kir-Yianni Ramnista Xinomavro
$22: We are tipped of by Amanda and Markus that this is the indigenous all star grape of Greece. Color is dark brick red. The nose is…is…what? Barolo? IGTY says absolutely unmistakably Piemonte Nebbiolo. So excited had to open it the next night. Bought it and will likely buy more. Maybe it’s the vintage. Markus it is definitely the winemaker’s hand with the most distinctive Greek varietal. As all swift marketers like to say today…never saw that coming.

We always like it when we “discover” a new wine region with great value and excellent wine. Time to rekindle the Istanbul trip. No cruises please. Here’s a photo strip with a cheesy jazz track. The Dodecanese Islands off Turkish coast. Another road less traveled.

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