I’m probably not alone in having some pré-jugées about Greek wines. A bit like, OK, a bottle of retsina can go down once in a (not very frequent) while, but hardly more than that.
But there is actually much, much more than that in Greek wines! Not least in northern Greece, in Macedonia. There you find high mountains (very high!) and sometimes rough climate, both promising well for quality wines. The “only” thing that remains is to convince people that that’s the case. Stellios Boutari at the Kir-Yianni winery (one of the best) says that their biggest problem today is an image problem – the stereotypes people have about Greece: “We don’t have any easy-to-remember catch phrase. And we have too many (difficult-to-remember) local grape varieties”. But these grape varieties are perhaps what might be Greece’s best weapon he thinks. But it’s not easy to introduce grapes with unpronounceable names to an international market. Yannis Voyatzis, chief oenologist at the much bigger Boutari company, is less hesitant: “The future is the Greek varieties. Who needs another Chardonnay? The Greek varieties have plenty of character”.
And that is certainly true. The white Assyrtiko and the red Xinomavro give us new and different flavours and treated well these varieties have definitely a potential to be a success on the export markets. Like for instance the white wine from Domaine Gerovassiliou made from Assyrtiko and Malagousia with lots of spices and herbs. Evangelo Gerovassiliou spend 23 years at Chaâteau Carras in Halkidiki, the winery that was perhaps the first pioneer for Greek wines. Here are a few northern Greek wineries to keep a lookout for: Kir-Yianni, Alpha Estate, Biblia Chora, Tsantali, Pavlidis, Boutari, Wine Art Estate, and Amyntaion Coop.
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