A new Greek Wine tradition

New winemakers reimagining old soil and ancient varieties.

A new spirit of authenticity is emerging from Greece, as a next generation of winemakers return to forgotten terroirs and local grapes, to express powerful, progressive sentiments. We have chosen three young wines from our recent travels that express a new kind of tradition. In the UK for the first time, they are a taste of what is to come over the next few years.

A NEW KIND OF NOBILITY
Vaptistis / Assyrtiko-Monemvasia 2016
Mesi, Tinos Island

 As the road goes south from Falatados, the granite lunarscape becomes decorative and ornate, spotted with ancient schist dovecots. The legacy of the island’s Venetian nobility, these cots have dramatically and poetically shaped a unique terroir. As such they’re fitting symbol (and label inspiration) of the modern vineyard here: a terroir-driven project born out of winemaker Yiannis Moriatis Vaptistis’ immense love for his native island. Years of research and experiment sit behind this second vintage: an 70/30 Assyrtiko and Monemvasia blend that is round bodied, oily and rich, moving through fruit towards savoury herbs. In our minds, this is our golden Aegean sunlight in a glass and a wine made for the island’s big flavoured fish: red bream, mussels, octopus stewed stifado style, or sea urchins.When Michalis Kontizas planted his first vineyard here in 2010, more experienced winemakers said he was mad. And, if you head past the mountain village of Falatados, you would see why. This place is called Volax: surely the most alien, lunar landscape in the Cyclades. There is barely room to plant vines among the massive granite rocks strewn everywhere here. As expected, there is a local story about a mythical battle between Gods and Giants but these are, more accurately, monolithic remains from an historic eruption. Either way, that ancient granite, coupled with poor, arid soil and winds from the Aegean was irresistible to Michalis - signs of powerful wine terroir. The resulting 2017 vintage, from organically cultivated Malagousia, is a direct line to that land: structured, linear, with delicate minerality and bracing, fresh acidity. Drink as we did when we fell for it: with the briny, herbaceous flavours of wild local artichokes, Louza - dry cured Tinian pork fillet - and sheep and goat’s milk cheeses.

WINE OF GIANTS
Volacus / Malagouzia 2017
Falatados,Tinos Island

When Michalis Kontizas planted his first vineyard here in 2010, more experienced winemakers said he was mad. And, if you head past the mountain village of Falatados, you would see why. This place is called Volax: surely the most alien, lunar landscape in the Cyclades. There is barely room to plant vines among the massive granite rocks strewn everywhere here. As expected, there is a local story about a mythical battle between Gods and Giants but these are, more accurately, monolithic remains from an historic eruption. Either way, that ancient granite, coupled with poor, arid soil and winds from the Aegean was irresistible to Michalis - signs of powerful wine terroir. The resulting 2017 vintage, from organically cultivated Malagousia, is a direct line to that land: structured, linear, with delicate minerality and bracing, fresh acidity. Drink as we did when we fell for it: with the briny, herbaceous flavours of wild local artichokes, Louza - dry cured Tinian pork fillet - and sheep and goat’s milk cheeses.

RETHINKING RETSINA
Mylonas / Naked Truth Natural Savatiano 2016
Attica, Greece

The Mylonas vineyard perches at the highest point of the Mesogaia region, where two sea breezes meet and where the soil changes into limestone and schist. To the Mylonas brothers, this soil - so distinctive in the region - is the magic of their vineyard. As children, they grew up here and in 2010, turned their two generation winemaking heritage into a modern winery. Today Mylonas is at the forefront of a Savatiano revolution, proving that this chameleon, indigenous varietal, so long known only as the retsina grape, is capable of making great, internationally recognised wine. This is a natural Savatiano: 10 days maceration on skins and 3 months on lees producing a wine whose ripe fruit, touch of warm spice and rich mouthfeel are structured by good grip from the tannins. One to pair with Asian food, starchy, creamy and custard-based dishes.

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