In the biggest celebration of Greek wines, I tried dozens of Greek wines and I discovered some small “gems”- by Maria Th. Massoura
For three days, from March 11th to March 13th, over 200 Greek wineries gathered at Zappeion in Athens, to showcase their wines, in ‘Oenorama 2017’, the largest exhibition of Greek wines in the world. This was 23rd year for the exhibition to be held. If you multiply the number of wineries by an average of 5 wines per winery, then, you realize the number of labels one could taste. However, quantity is not the thing worth mentioning.
Greek wine has begun to rise globally in the recent years and, apart from the amazing white wines made with ‘Assyrtiko’ that has been discussed for years and has started to be produced abroad, too, (see Australia) as well as the “royal” red wines made with Xinomavro which impresses connoisseurs around the world, there is a great wealth, that invited us to discover, both in terms of labels and in indigenous Greek varieties.
During those three days I wanted to try as many wines as I could, see first hand the course of the Greek wine and discover, above all, wines made with indigenous
Greek grape varieties that I haven’t had so often the opportunity to meet. Oenorama 2017 was an amazing experience. The 10 euros paid for the entrance and the 3 euros for the tasting glass, was a meager amount to live around it.
When I entered, with the tasting glass in hand, I found myself in the “Red Wing”, which started with a major section, the Wines of Crete. By tasting the wines of the Cretan producers, I confess that I was thrilled. First Vidiano, the “White Queen”. A scarce variety with awesome fragrance and a very nice, creamy experience in the mouth. Apart from this, I tried Mandilari, in a blend or on its own, that is probably the greatest red grape variety in the island. Then Vilana, the most widely cultivated white grape variety, with fresh character, the excellent Kotsifali, that makes stylish red wines, Thrapsathiri, a white grape variety that I have never tasted before and I liked very much as well as the very interesting Romeiko, a red grape variety that gave me aromas of oregano, while for the first time I tasted Moschato of Spina’’. Of course if you don’t drink ‘Sweet Liatiko’, you haven’t seen the “sweet” side of Crete. Apart from the Cretan varieties from many producers, I pointed out another wine. Manousakis winery makes Nostos Roussanne, a very aromatic and elegant wine, made with Roussanne, coming from the Rhône region in France.
By moving further inside, you could find large and small producers like Boutari, Domaine Hadjigeorgiou from Lemnos, Lantides Estate from Nemea, Gavala Winery from Santorini, Gentilini of Kefalonia etc. There, I tried wines produces from well-known Greek varieties such as Rombola, Roditis, Agiorgitiko, Moschato and Malagouzia as well as wines from international varieties. By turning around, I found myself in the “Blue Wing”, where there were also well-known major producers, medium-sized and smaller wineries. I do not know what to remember first: The awesome Assyrtiko from which I tried various expressions, the beautiful wines produced from Xinomavro or the beautiful Savatiano. It was a great privilege to have at your disposal so many good wines and at the same time, explore the promising path of Greek wines.
A fact or rather observation I made and it is worth mentioning the fact that retsina, is going through a much-deserved Renaissance period. There are retsinas made with a different vinification and experimental ways such as “Kechris Afros», a fresh, excellent dry white wine with a very light sparkling character, that occurs naturally during fermentation.
A special experience was the room of Wine Revelations. In that room, small scale wineries with a very small production (up to 30.000 bottles) were exhibiting their wines, while in the background, there was the Wine Bar, with about 60 wines from less known Greek varieties as well as biodynamic, unfiltered and natural wines. That was a room where you realize that there is something going on in the Greek Vineyards and there is a lot of experimentation taking place.
Finally, there was the Tasting Square, addressed only to professionals. It was a large room, with around 250 wines that producers themselves recommend as the most representative of their region.
You could find those wines outside in the Blue and Red Wing, too, but there, you had the opportunity and the time, without the presence of the producers, to taste them in ideal conditions. In addition, you had the chance to read their technical and commercial data and compare them with each other since the bottles were arranged thematically. In the background, there was a huge poster, the wine map of Greece. In that room, my dear reader, I stayed for several hours and tasted over 150 wines. An endless and unique wealth !
If you are a true wine lover or a professional and if you want to discover the Greek vineyard, Oenorama is something that should be tucked in your agenda every year.