Greece Is The Word (and The Wine)

Greeks, both ancient and modern, love wine. We may have James Halliday but they have Dionysus, the OG God of Wine (and fertility, because of course).

According to legend Dionysus, son of Zeus, was the first to discover how to make grapes into wine, and was justly revered for evermore. His power was such that upon being captured by Etruscan pirates he conjured a madly growing grape vine around the ship's mast, scaring them into the water, where they were turned into dolphins.

We can't promise a similar effect but we should all be drinking more Greek wine in any case, such is the level of quality development in recent years. Retsina be damned, there are some great Greek wines to be drunk!

Greece is, indeed, the word. And the word is Xinomavro. Or Assyrtiko. Maybe Moschofilero. In fact there are lots of new words, new wineries, old regions and new grape varieties to explore.

You could start your journey from the top, in the mountainous northern region of Macedonia. This is the Greek geographical entity, not the country, which from February 2019 was renamed the Republic of North Macedonia. Anyhow...this is home of the appellations Naoussa and Amyndeon, and where you will find the great red grape, Xinomavro, often described as Greek Nebbiolo for its complexity and structure.



Greek Vineyards over looking the Aegean

Greek Vineyards over looking the Aegean

Wine Nerd Interruption Alert - specific appellations in Greece are now known by the name PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) and more regional styles are covered by PGIs (Protected Geographical Indications). There are 33 PDOs and about a hundred PGIs. As an example, the island of Santorini is a PDO, while the Cyclades Islands, of which Santorini is one, is a PGI. Got it? Opa!

Further south we have Thessaly, Central Greece and into the Attica region, where you will find Athens, and about 20% of Greece's total wine production. Across the narrow sea to the Peloponnese you find the great PDO of Nemea, and delicious reds made from Agiorgitiko (named after St George).

And then we have the Greek islands, of which no-one seems to know how many exist but it is in the thousands. Wine-wise, we have the aforementioned Santorini and their exquisite Assyritkos, the ancient sweet styles from Samos, Lemnos and Patras, plus wines from Rhodes, Cephalonia and the Ionian islands.

And furthest south, we find Crete, their largest island, home to many native grapes, most significantly the vibrant white grape Vilana. It's also a place to find great value everyday wines to turn your house into a taverna..

It's a smallish country in world terms, ranking annually around 17th in wine production, and it is dominantly the province of small vineyard production. There are 1300 odd wineries, and not much room for more extensive plantings. The most planted varieties? Savatiano, Roditis and Agiorgitiko! We recommend Xinomavro and Assyrtiko as your go-tos for quality wine but there is so much to experience from across this beautiful country. And if you love Retsina... we stock it, so enjoy it!




[product align="left" limit="8" cols="4" handle_collection="greece" hover="base" hide_pagination="true" hide_buttons="false" use_countdown="false" loop_countdown="false" collection_countdown_style="dark" ]

Leave a comment