Greek culture including its history, geography, food, music, art, poetry, and mythology has always intrigued me in ways no other country has been able to do. Even as a child I loved learning about the fascinating gods and goddesses through books of mythology and history. As an adult I continue to read incessantly, visit wonderful Greek restaurants, and frequent museums which include archeological remains, works of art depicting the country’s tumultous and world-changing history, and other artifacts lending insight to Greece’s rich heritage. Having not yet had the opportunity to travel to Greece, immersing myself in its culture in these ways seems to be the next best thing! And I discovered the wines from northern Greece!
In particular, I learned to love the wines sent to me as samples from Eklektikon, an importer of eclectic Greek wines from well regarded boutique wineries in northern Greece. Grapes cultivated in Drama, the Slopes of Paiko, Goumenissa, and Macedonia reflect the terroir of these ancient lands which have been responsible for wine production for over 4000 years. This article is part one of two focusing on these delicious and affordable wines.
Eurynome Wines produced by Chatzivariti
Greek mythology paints the goddess Eurynome as one who began life. Because she had nowhere to call her own, she left the sky and on the waves of the sea danced with grace as she united wisdom and divinity while forming the elements of the earth. There is no doubt in my mind (or palate!) that the wines named after this goddess may give life to a new love for Greek wine~
**Eurynome White 2011 – Consisting of 100% Roditis grapes grown organically from the PGO Slopes of Paiko, I was pleasantly suprised by the aromas of spice (ginger?) and tastes of apples, bananas. High acidity yet balanced with fruit and alcohol the Eurynome White was gentle with a lingering mouthfeel. I loved to just sip this one…and reflect on the fact that this is a wine from Roditis, considered one of the oldest Greek grapes and delicious enought to garner a Silver Medal at the 2012 International Women’s Wine Competition! Cost is a mere $20.00.
**Eurynome Red 2010 – With this bottle of wine from PDO Goumenissa and consisting of 70% Xinomavro and 30% Negoska grapes both of which were grown organically, I can’t think of a more interesting selection shared on Christmas Eve with my family and paired with some bites of goat cheese and kalamata olives during the cocktail hour. A beautiful ruby red color (well, it was Christmas after all!) and aromas of cherries, plums, and vanilla spice were so intense that I had to just stop and savor…but not for long! After the first sip, it was clear that this delicious wine had subtle tastes of cherries, cranberries, hazelnuts, and a touch of black pepper. With the intense acidity and structure of Xinomavro and the high alcohol yet soft tannins and acidity of Negoska, it was no surprise that this dry and balanced wine would have a smooth finish after having been aged for twelve months in new French oak and six more months in the bottle. One family member suggested that Eurynome Red “dances on the tongue”! Ah yes, the dancing! The cost is $27.00.
En Oeno produced by Oenogenesis
The proverb “En Oeno Alethea” means “in wine there is truth” and I certainly understand that one! In these wines, I have been able to identify interesting, unusual, and delicious aromas and tastes and with friends and family involved, there have been some very honest revelations!
**En Oeno White 2011 - Christmas Eve continued with merriment and more wine! Enjoyed was this flavorful blend of 50% Assyrtiko and 50% Sauvignon Blanc from PGI Macedonia. The Assyrtiko wines in this northern area tend to be more fruity and full bodied than from other areas and can be found blended with Sauvignon Blanc as in this particular wine. Once again, family found the En Oeno White delicious with aromas of strong green grapes, peaches, apricots, and a touch of grapefruit. On the palate? Intense tastes of sesame, honey, and citrus were found and all agreed that the finish was satisfying. We paired this with homemade spanokopita and someone just had to sneak a taste of baklava, too! This wine received a Silver Medal at the International Balkan Competition 2012 and a Bronze Medal at the International Women’s Wine Competition 2012. The good news is the you can be awarded this wine for $23.00!
**En Oeno Rose 2011 – Having never tried a wine which was a blend of 85% Grenache Rouge and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, I was taken aback with its dry almost tart taste. The color in the glass was a dark pink or perhaps a deep salmon. On the nose, there were earth, red fruits, and minerality. The tastes were amazing…peaches, strawberries, raspberries, spices. Frankly, this Rose expressed the most floral notes (thanks to the Grenache Rouge) of any I’ve had the pleasure to taste! With a medium finish, this wine will pair with stews with spice or a delicious moussaka! This is a real treat from PGI Drama for $22.00.
**En Oeno Red 2008 - Well, now! This wine from PGI Drama continued to be beautiful on the second day of tasting! The grapes involved in this gem were 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Franc. The warm aromas of deep red fruits and exotic spices tickled my nose (in a good way!). Promise that you’ll let this wine breathe for at least thirty minutes before enjoying its tastes of blueberries, plums, and other dark fruits with a hint of minerality and earth. Chewy tannins, full body, and a long finish were perfect on a Friday evening with friends and family. Aged for twelve months in French oak and twelve months in the bottle, you can enjoy En Oeno Red 2008 for $26.00.
Tasting and enjoying this selection of Eklektikon imported wines from Greece reinforced my understanding that to learn about a country’s culture in the most meaningful way, there must be some wine involved. Yes, “in wine there is truth”!
γεια μας ~ Cindy
**Recipe pairings for two of the wines noted above will be published on Wednesday, January 17 at Grape Experiences~