Reviewed:10th July 2014
I am somewhat surprised and a little perplexed that we do not drink more wines from Greece. According to Jancis Robinson, Greece is the home of modern winemaking in Europe, with cultivation of vines and wine production dating back to 2000BC.
From Greece, viticulture spread through Sicily, the Italian mainland and France. In other words, it was the Greeks who brought modern grapes and winemaking to many of the most famous winemaking countries in the world!
Whilst there was an extended period (many centuries) where Greek winemaking was considered rustic at best, over the last few decades there has been a significant improvement in viticulture and winemaking. This has led to a revival in the industry.
There are major winemaking regions on both the mainland and some of the islands. Like other major European producers, Greece has legislated to define various appellations, as well as a tiered quality system.
Indigenous varieties include the white grape Assyrtiko (used in several wines in this tasting) as well as the red varieties Agiorghiyiko and Xinomavro. Like many other old-world producers, classic French varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are produced, often blended with local varieties.
This tasting was hosted by La Vigna in Western Australia. La Vigna stocks (arguably) the largest collection of imported wines in Western Australia (or Australia for that matter). It should definitely be on every wine enthusiast’s list of places to visit!
Gaia – Assyrtiko – Thalassitis – 2012. Light and fresh, with hints of musk and perfume. The palate is relatively neutral, with enough depth to make for enjoyable drinking. Some similarities to Pinot Gris. (RRP $38).
Gaia – Assyrtiko – Wild Ferment – 2013. A complex wine with barrel ferment and lees characters and vanillin oak highlights. The palate is textured and long, with a drying finish that maintains focus. A smart wine. (RRP $40).
Gaia – Xinomavro/Merlot/Shiraz – Agiorgitiko – 2012. Fresh cherry-like fruit with sweet berry highlights. The plate is flesh and fruit driven. Perhaps this has seen partial carbonic maceration to maintain the fleshy fruit characters. (RRP $33).
Kir Yianni – Merlot/Xinomavro/Shiraz – Paranga – 2012. Refined, elegant, silky and polished, with red fruits and fine tannins. Fermented/stored in stainless steel, so oak plays no role in this fleshy wine. One to try this winter with simple food. (RRP $26).
Kir Yianni – Merlot/Xinomavro – Estate – 2010. This has a lot in common with right bank Bordeaux, or super Tuscan reds for that matter. Precise ripe fruit is complemented by fine-grained oak and dusty/powdery tannins. The structure here combined with the density of fruit should facilitate aging over the medium term. (RRP $40).
Kir Yianni – Xinomavro – Ramnista – 2010. The first wine that was 100% Xinomavro. The nose had perfume and spice over a touch of cedar from the oak. The palate is dense and structured with decent length. A big wine, but one that is worth trying. (RRP – $37).
Gaia – Agiorgitiko/Shiraz – S – 2011. Aiming to emulate the success of the super Tuscan reds (they blend Sangiovese with a small amount of classic French red grapes), this wine sees 30% Shiraz added to the native Agiorgitiko. A dense wine with hints of pipe-smoke over licorice and spice. There is a degree of silkiness to the ripe fruit, and the finish is quite supple for what is a big wine. Age-worthy. (RRP $50).
Kir Yianni – Shiraz/Merlot/Xinomavro – Dyo Elies – 2008. Silky and refined, yet with real depth of fruit. The finish is chewy, tannic and very long, with oak highlights to close. This is a very fine wine. (RRP $60).