20 February 2014

No big surprise anymore to come across Greek red wines flirting intensely with the price tag of €25-30 in the Greek retail market. These are usually produced in limited bottles from quite low yields that are responsible for very concentrated fruit and are made with lots of extraction and plenty new oak in a style that would like to approach the opulence of New World, Australia in particular.

Sometimes they can be fresh with no sign of over-ripeness, expressive of thick and concentrated fruit capable to support new oak maturation, while on other occasions wines just smell expensive without possessing the appropriate structure's backbone delivering a jammy and even raisiny fruit profile. 

The Naked King or Gymnos Vasilias in Greek is the flagship wine from the very good Pieria Eratini estate, founded in 2006 in Pieria Northern Greece from renowned oenologists Andreas Pantos and Pavlos Argyropoulos. It is rich and concentrated but does not exaggerate in any level having managed in his own way to show less weight. And this is precisely the success of  Naked King; the expression of power that does not show too much.

Creating a unique terroir-expression of Syrah supplemented by a dash of autochthonous Kolindrino(15%) is what the two winemakers aim for. Andres Pantos comments that ''Kolindrino gives additional tannic structure to the wine and a taste of bitter chocolate.'' For both winemakers the King is their version in their quest for a fine Greek Syrah, a variety that suits Greek climate from Thrace to the Cretan island. 

The grapes are sourced from a single vineyard of just 0.85ha where first vines were planted 15 years ago at an altitude of 400 meters. Altitude and cold southerly winds from Mt Olympus promote  a long ripening period maintaining at the same time freshness which is the whole point. Overall production is 4.000 standard and 400 magnum bottles sold in Greece and exported in Germany, USA and Belgium.

Co-fermentation of the two varieties takes place in the winery under controlled fermentation temperatures that do not exceed 24C, while total maceration is at Bordeaux levels of close to 25 days. The King's truth speaks of no added enzymes or extra tannins but of natural methods(no use of pumps but only gravity), no cold stabilization and of course no filtration. The only luxury, and a true King must have some, is new oak in which it matures for 18 months.

Naked King 2011 which was just released in the market has an opaque, impenetrable black color and is already expressive with exuberant black fruit of black cherries and blueberries with a touch of vegetality, vanilla and licorice. On the palate it is fleshy and rich but not a blockbuster in any way supported by ripe and velvety tannins. 15% abv does not show at all while aftertaste is quite long. You can drink it now but feel free to cellar it for 5 years (91).

The Naked King 2011, 15% abv. Exported in Germany, USA and Belgium The Naked King 2011, 15% abv. Exported in Germany, USA and Belgium



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