9th April 2016 : "It's All Greek to Me!" with Sally & Peter in Rustington
Sally & Peter had very kindly hosted the AGM in December 2015 but this was the very first SWAS tasting event which was uniquely theirs.
The White Wines:
1. Semeli Mantinia Nassiakos 2015 ; 100% Moschofilero grape; 12% alc; £9.75 from The Wine Society
Capturing the scented (lemon and rose-petal) bouquet of the moschofilero grapes at their best, this is a delicious aperitif and goes well with a selection of Greek mezedes, fish and seafood. Leonidas Nasiakos's vines grow at 650m in the central Peloponnese where cool nights are ideal for preserving finesse.
"Greece's answer to a delicate, dry Alsace Muscat – fragrant with rose petals, lime and fresh grapes and captivatingly refreshing and pure on the palate.” thewinegang.com 21/03/2016
2. Hatzidakis Santorini 2014 ; 100% Assyrtiko grape; 13.5% alc; £12.50 from The Wine Society
The distinctive assyrtiko grape, native to Santorini, is fragrant, full and dry with a seam of ripe acidity at its heart to give it vitality. Haridimos Hatzidakis cultivates his low-yielding vines sustainably, without herbicides, pesticides or irrigation, the humidity from sea breezes providing just enough moisture with the vines trained close to the ground in a unique bird's nest shape.
"Strong green leafy aspects on the nose. Creamy texture. Racy and super tense. Really well put together. Great polish and verve. 17/20” JancisRobinson.com 28/10/2015
Moving on to the Reds selected by Peter:
3. The Little Prince Cretan Red 2013, Karavitakis, Crete ; 65% Kotsifali 35% Mandilaria; 13.5% alc; £8.95 from The Wine Society
A vibrant fruity mix of two local Cretan varieties, made by a very switched-on winery in the west of the island. 65% kotsifali, aromatic and generous, is given extra colour and backbone by 35% of the smaller-berried mandilaria. The Karavitakis family have been bottling their own wines for 20 years. They are part of a movement called Wines of Crete, including many other young independent growers, which has challenged the arrogant older-generation view that the old oxidative wines were best. Everything is farmed sustainably without the use of chemicals.
4. Black of Kalavryta, Tetramythos 2014 ; Black Kalavryta grape; 13.0% alc; £8.50 from The Wine Society
Light cherry and violet-scented red with delicious spicy appetising flavour. Named after the village of Kalavryta in the north Peloponnese. The site of a massacre in 1943, the most serious war crime committed in Greece by the Germans during WWII. A tiny production on the slopes of Mount Helmos, a popular ski resort near Patras in the Peloponnese. The vines are planted at altitude, on 14 hectares of limestone soil between 450 and 1,000 metres above sea level, beside olive and almond groves. At these elevations and with the help of breezes drifting in from the Gulf of Corinth the heat of the Mediterranean sun is somewhat mitigated and freshness can be retained in the grapes and consequently the wines.
Viticulture here is environmentally sustainable and owners Aristos and Stathis Spanos and Panayiotis Papagiannopoulos have equipped the winery with all mod cons since it was completed in 2004. They met in 1999 when the brothers Spanos had a desire to make wine and serendipitously met winemaker Panayiotis and established Tetramythos together.
Greek varieties such as mavro kalavryta, malagousia, agiorgitiko and roditis rub shoulders with cabernet sauvignon, merlot and sauvignon blanc, allowing them to make interesting blends as well as single-varietal bottlings. They also make, and have done much to restore the reputation of, Retsina wines gently flavoured with resin. These wines are much debased in the hands of others but here a delicacy is achieved that will surprise and delight many wine lovers.
5. Megas Oenos Skouras 2010 ; Agiorgitiko/Cabernet Sauvignon grapes; 13.5% alc; £17.50 from The Wine Society
Stylish and elegant blend of predominantly old-vine agiorgitiko grown at altitude near Nemea in the Peloponnese, where it is native, and cabernet sauvignon. Subtle ageing for 18 months in French oak barrels adds harmony, polish and ageworthiness.
"Very complete and beautifully balanced. Lovely wine! No rough edges at all. Violets and fruit. Beautiful. Already evolved but far from old. You might criticise it for being too evolved for a four-year-old but that is hardly a fault.” JancisRobinson.com 24/06/2014
6. Earth and Sky, Naoussa 2013, Thymiopoulos ; Xynomavro grape; 14.0% alc; £20.00 from The Wine Society
Apostolos Thymiopoulos has been cultivating his 40-year-old xynomavro bush vines organically for many years and the results are amazingly good. A delicious Greek red with a gorgeous many-faceted bouquet, evocative of wild red fruits and violets, supported by beautifully balanced palate which combines sweet fruit freshness and structure to last.
"Old bush vines add a further dimension of aromatic power and structure” - Anthony Rose, The Independent 06/02/2016
7. Mavrotragano Hatzidakis 2011; Mavrotragano grape; 14.0%; £24.00 from The Wine Society
A rare and amazing Greek red made from the mavrotragano grape which had virtually disappeared until Haridimos Hatzidakis revived it. Intense bright fresh wild berry fruit bouquet, with hints of chocolate, tobacco this red is evocative of Santorini's unique volcanic soil and climate with lovely balance and freshness A wine that grows in the glass and will happily age for 20 years.
"Mid ruby with a pale rim. Sweet, round and resolved on the nose. Broad and warm stony. Lots of freshness but lots of ripe sweet fruit too. Dee-lightful. 17/20” JancisRobinson.com 28/10/2015
8. Kourtaki Cameo Mavrodaphne of Patras NV ; Mavrodaphne/Black Korinthiaki grapes; 15% alc; £6.69 from Waitrose
Mavrodaphne meaning "black laurel" is a wine of world renown coming from Greece. It has a powerful bouquet full of raisins and dates. On the palate dried fruit flavours develop followed by good acidity which gives terrific support and backbone to this excellent wine. The fruit-driven finish possesses wonderful length.
Sally served slow roasted leg of lamb with a Greek salad and roast potatoes. Dessert was a choice of warm honey cup puddings with pistachio Greek yogurt ice cream or oranges in caramel. Cheese was a selection of mature cheddar, Stilton, Brie, Leerdammer and goat's cheese.
The Raffle Wines: