07 December 2013

In the '' Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé'' night some crazy Greeks decided to go against the tide and taste the crème de la crème of their country's sweet wines. The choice of date had nothing to do with snobbery towards Beaujolais celebration. On the contrary we consider Beaujolais Villages and especially the crus (not only Morgon or Moulin a Vent) as some of the most underrated wines in the world, wines that really deserve our attention.

We started with Late Harvest Pirgakis made from Agiorgitiko, a medium-sweet wine made in the mountainous region of Asprokambos in Nemea where high altitude of 900m provide bright levels of natural acidity and impressive freshness. Next was a three-wine flight from sun-dried grapes. Hesiodus described in the 8th century B.C the recipe for these wines suggesting 10 days drying under the sun and 5 more under shade. First in line the gorgeous, deliciously flavoured Parparousis Estate PDO Muscat of Rio-Patras 2006 showing a floral character along peach, honey and toffee. The new 2008 vintage will be shortly released in the market.

The second wine was a new effort made from the lesser known red grape variety Augoustiatis, under the label  Grampsas Estate Iliou Fos from Zakinthos island. The wine matures two years in new oak and reveals an expressive nose of sour cherries, black cherries, sweet spices and toast. The flight ended with classic Sigalas Vinsanto 2004 from the unique island of Santorini, with a sticky texture because of its almost 300g/lt sugars but also with lightness and refreshing character provided by tremendous acidity. Typical Vinsanto on the nose, it displayed very low levels of volatile acidity contributing to overall complexity and fantastic aromas of smoke, chocolate and dried prunes.

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The next three-wine flight was all about the traditional/historical styles of Greek sweet wines. Newcomer Sunday from Mylonas Estate is a blend of 85% Savvatiano and 15% Aidani fermented in large clay amphorae with a capacity of 480lt. This is a really elegant wine with moderate levels of sweetness(85g/lt) and floral, fruity aromas and somehow earthy notes. We are going to taste it again after its official release in the market and we will come up with further notes.

Malvasia of Crete from one of island's top producers, Lyrarakis.  is an attempt to revive the historic style of sweet Malvasia of Crete. A blend of local grape varieties such as Dafni, Plyto, Vilana and Vidiano are sun-dried for 9 days. The result is a charming wine of medium body, 162gr/lt residual sugars and sweet vanilla notes around a core of peach and apricot aromas.

One of the most crazy wines of the night was the Oikonomou Liatiko 2000 made only for export markets. Almost maderised in style, with 15% alcohol, almost grippy tannins and a persistent aftertaste, this is certainly a wine that aims towards a more selective, adventurous consumer delivering great complexity and different aromatic layers.

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When Jancis Robinson tasted during the 60 years anniversary of the Institute of Masters of Wine, Nectar 1980 from Samos Co-operative not yet released on the market but still in casks, she could not hide her excitement for this masterpiece. She actually gave it top marks among 41 different wines. What else we could say after this recognition, except that the wine attacks the palate from various points building superb complexity and finishing really loooooong!

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For the final flight dedicated to the Greek star Mavrodaphne grape we had three fortified wines. Mercouri Estate Xortais 2005 from the Peloponnese is a wine of great concentration with integrated barrel in a style between Port and French VDN with lovely notes of herbs, chocolate and raisins. The grapes are sun-dried for 10 days under the sun and the wine stays in French oak barrels for 5 years before its release.

Parparousis Mavrodaphne Reserve 2003 followed  having spent more than 6 years in oak, hence could be labelled as Grande Reserve and for the end another highlight, the Achaia Clauss 1979 Grande Reserve, a benchmark wine from the historic Greek winery. All the aromas that someone could imagine were there. No doubt that tasting such a wine is a unique experience by all means.

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Deliberately one of the greatest sweet Greek wines was absent from this masterclass and the reason is very simple; it is reserved for our fine wines tasting  in December 18 as the sole Greek wine among icon wines such as Monte Bello or Giaconda Chardonnay. This is of course Argyros 20 years old Vinsanto 1990.

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For the end titles we could say without any exaggeration, that the tasting proved again the outstanding level of quality in an international context for Greek sweets. Wines that have nothing to fear in comparison with top sweets from all over the world many times more expensive. They are some of the most underrated wines offering amazing value for money and longevity of many decades in some cases.

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