By Aris Sklavenitis
There are wines, and then there are great wines… Aris Sklavenitis is the owner of wine bar Oinoscent in Athens, Wine Director at two Michelin-star awarded Delta restaurant, and a two-time receiver of the Best Greek Sommelier title. Below is his list of 10 Greek reds that you’ll be lucky to get your hands on.
Collection, Syrah, from Avantis Estate on the island of Evia
A fantastic representation of this variety. A wine greatly suitable for aging, with complex aromas from dark and dried fruits and sweet spices, with hints of herbs and earthy notes. It is considered among the top Syrahs in the country, and rightly so.
Cava, Refosco-Mavrodaphne, from Merkuri Estate in Ilia
In a category of its own! Mavrodaphne and Refosco, an Italian variety cultivated by the Kenellakopoulos family, in perfect harmony. The years 2000 and 2006 are still edged in my mind. If you find those somewhere, let me know!
La Tour Melas, Cabernet Franc-Merlot, From La Tour Melas in Fthiotida
Their first experimental vinification was in 2003, and since then, each year has been better. Two decades later, this is known as one of the finest Bordeaux blends in Greece – at the very least. It’s a rare find that ages wonderfully.
Limniona, from Domaine Zafeirakis in Tyrnavos
Christos Zafeirakis’ Limniona is an affordable quality wine that may save your day when you’re in a food pairing conundrum. If you find an old year, hold onto it!
Clos Stegasta, Mavrotragano, from Tiniakoi Ampelones (T-Oinos) on the island of Tinos
This great wine, renowned in Greece as well as internationally, grows in a lunarlike vineyard on Tinos overseen by one of the world’s most influential winemakers, Stéphane Derenoncourt, working along with oenoligist Thanos Georgilas, who was previously at Opus One and Château Latour.
Mov, Mavrodaphne, from Petrakopoulos Winery on the island of Kefalonia
An excellent wine made from a promising variety which comes through here as exuberant and earthy. It’s produced in very limited numbers, so bottles are difficult to find, and is without a doubt one of the greatest of the Greek wines. It is complex, and particularly suitable for aging.
Nostos Mourvèdre, from Manousakis Winery on the island of Crete
Since the beginning in 2012, only two barrels of this wine are being made each year. Another rich and exuberant wine that matures well, it boasts aromas of dark fruits, coffee, and dark chocolate, tremendous concentration of flavor, prominent acidity, and complexity. A gem on the Greek wine scene!
Antigone, Liatiko, from Winery Economou on the island of Crete
At what is perhaps the country’s most “cult” winery, Yiannis Economou produces wines that age for many, many years before they’re put on the market. Antigone is a liatiko from the Sitia region on Crete from 2004, that may well place among the most sophisticated wines worldwide, suitable for high-end gastronomic experiences. You’ll find it in well-curated liquor stores and fine dining restaurants abroad, but mainly in the cellars of true oenophiles.
Meth Imon Late Harvest, Limniona-Syrah-Grenache, from Dougos Winery in Rapsani
It ages beautifully. If you get to taste a 10-15-year-old bottle, you’ll be astounded at how young it appears, while at once having gained such complexity. Unfortunately, there’s a limited amount of bottles out there.
Ramnista, Xinomavro, from Kir-Yianni in Naoussa
One of the most renowned wines to be produced at the Greek vineyards, Kir-Yianni’s popular Ramnista is serious value for money. For less than €20, you can purchase a wine with fantastic complexity and depth, that can be aged successfully for at least 15 years.
This article was previously published in Greek at gastronomos.gr.