Greece has been on the wine map since before they made wine maps. The history of Greek wine is long and winding and provides a lot of the foundation for modern, worldwide winemaking as we know it today. The Ancient Greeks initially spread their knowledge of winemaking and the Vitis Vinifera species, now by far the most common winemaking vine species. Many of the ancient varietals are now back in production and leading the comeback of Greek wine.
The 1960s and 70s put Greek wine at the forefront of holiday-makers’ thoughts in what turned out to be somewhat of a poisoned chalice. Similarly to how sweet wines, German Riesling and, more recently, Chardonnay were once much favoured and have since seen their status at least dwindle, if not collapse, Retsina had a time in the limelight. Holidays to the Greek islands coincided with Retsina being made the national beverage. The then modern, forward-thinking British middle class flocked to taste the local delights, including Retsina, Metaxa and Ouzo. Still, it quickly fell from grace and was looked back on with little melancholy. For those unaware, Retsina is a style of wine made all over Greece from a range of grape varietals, most commonly Savatiano, where fermentation barrels, or initially clay amphorae, were lined with pine resin. This imparts a not-so-subtle pine flavour to the relatively mild Savatiano juice. All things are cyclical, and Retsina is going through a mini-revival. Modern winemakers handle the process with a bit more care and make some delicious, interesting wines. Try Ritinitis Nobilis Retsina from Gaia Wines, a fresh, citrus number with a hint of pine to add a slightly vegetal complexity.
Modern-day Greece has firmly staked its claim, once again, as one of the greatest winemaking countries to be found. It is, once again, the tourism of the gorgeous isle of Santorini which initially fuelled this now country-wide revitalisation. Santorini wines are not cheap and with good reason. Strong coastal winds, searing heat and volcanic soil provide a combination of challenging and rewarding growing conditions. The Assyrtiko grape varietal, whilst only recently famous, has been grown here for centuries. Vines, trained in the traditional ‘basket’ or ‘bird’s nest’ styles, can be up to 250 years old and still eking out a tiny amount of delicious grapey nectar. The wines are fiercely fresh, vibrant and laden with a mineral character. They are widely regarded as some of the world’s great wines and, on average, the fruit here is the most expensive to be found anywhere. There are only a handful or two producers to be found on the relatively small island, but please try one, especially if you’re into Chablis or the like. They’ll knock your socks off.
The rest of Greece has followed the success of Santorini, and there are now fantastic, world-leading wineries from Southern Macedonia in the far north and mainland Greece to the Peloponnese and beyond to nearly all of the islands. Each has its own distinct climate and character, and now, more than ever, ancient varietals once consigned to the history books are making comebacks across the country. This range of climate, altitude, coastal influence (altogether what one may term terroir) and individual, not to be found anywhere else grape varietals, make Greece, arguably, the most fascinating wine country at the moment. Anything from razor-sharp Assyrtiko or world-class Chardonnay through a delicious range of rosés to delicate Moschomavro and rich, leathery Xinomavro. Without forgetting Samos' stunning sweet wines, based on Muscat or Vin Santo, where it’s originally from, even the Italians will tell you!
Whatever your wine taste, Greece has you covered.
When - Wednesday 24th March 2021 at 7:30 pm via Zoom.
Presenter - David Shearsby, from Hallgarten
The wines are described in more detail below, just click on the product code to find out more
• Akriotou 'Orivatis' Old Vines Savatiano
• Ktima Biblia Chora Estate White
• Monemvasios Red, Monemvasia
We'll deliver them from the 17th of March (or you can collect them from the shop) and we'll be doing an online tasting on the 24th of March.
The way to sign up for this tasting is slightly different from our in-store tastings. To purchase your ticket to this tasting, all you need to do is purchase our tasting case, which you will find below. The deadline for ordering is 17th March 2021 so make sure you have purchased your case before then, to guarantee your place at the tasting. This case includes the three wines that we will be tasting throughout the session. Once you have purchased this case, we will send you an email, to the email address associated with the tasting, with instructions on how to register for the tasting.
The tasting will last up to an hour, with opportunities to ask David and Csaba questions throughout.
Your tasting case will be available for collection or delivery from 17th March.
Join us to hear the stories and learn about wine in a fun way, actually the only way, by tasting it.