Chapter 2.6.2. general View on Greek Wines

Kalimera !

Dear All ,

I’ve had the pleasure to participate , a few days ago ,  to the Good Wine 2016 , Spring Edition , Greek Wines Master Class Event , hosted by both Mr. Avram Laurentiu Achim and Mr. Vasilis Ioannou .


Mr. Vasilis Ioannou openning speech

Just in case You wonder , this is Greece !


A few words before We start :


Greece is one of the oldest wineproducing regions in the world. The earliest evidence of Greek wine has been dated to 6,500 years ago where wine was produced on a household or communal basis. In ancient times, as trade in wine became extensive, it was transported from end to end of the Mediterranean; Greek wine had especially high prestige in Italy under the Roman Empire. In the medieval period, wines exported from Crete, Monemvasia and other Greek ports fetched high prices in northern Europe.


The origins of wine-making in Greece go back 6,500 years and evidence suggesting wine production confirm that Greece is home to the second oldest known grape wine remnants discovered in the world and the world’s earliest evidence of crushed grapes. The spread of Greek civilization and their worship of Dionysus, the god of wine, spread Dionysian cults throughout the Mediterranean areas during the period of 1600 BC to the year 1. Hippocrates used wine for medicinal purposes and readily prescribed it. Greek wines and their varieties were well known and traded throughout the Mediterranean. The Ancient Greeks introduced vines such as Vitis vinifera and made wine in their numerous colonies in Italy, Sicily, southern France, and Spain. The Vitis vinifera grape which thrives in temperate climates near coastal areas with mild winters and dry summers adapted well and flourished in the Northern Mediterranean areas. The most reputable wines of ancient Greece were Chian, Coan, Corcyraean, Cretan, Euboean, Lesbian, Leucadian, Mendaean, Peparethan wine, Rhodian and Thasian.Wine was also important for ancient Macedonia. Two other names may or may not be regional: Bibline wine and Pramnian wine are named in the earliest Greek poetry, but without any reliable geographical details.

In 1937, a Wine Institute was established by the Ministry of Agriculture. During the 1960s, retsina suddenly became the national beverage. With rapidly growing tourism, retsina became associated worldwide with Greece and Greek wine. Greece’s first Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard was planted in 1963. In 1971 and 1972, legislation established appellation laws.

Now , We’ve had the pleasure and privilege to taste and get a closer look to 10 wines from Greece , covering almost all Greece and the islands.


Papagiannakos Savatiano 2015



Greenish yellow in colour, this white boasts a light nose exuding floral and fruity aromas. Discover this light-bodied wine expressing refreshing acidity and offering a slender texture. It also unveils a light mouthfeel that leads into a short finish. A new age Savatiano from this ultra modern winery near Athens, it possesses an intense tropical fruity character of banana and pineapple, with round mouth and balanced acidity.


Gerovassiliou - Malagousia.pptx

And the vineyards:



This wine is entirely produced from the Greek grape variety of Malagousia that was saved from extinction due to the efforts of Vangelis Gerovassiliou.

Further to skin contact to enhance the extraction of aromas, it is partially barrel-fermented and then matures on its lees for a few months, gaining depth in flavour and floral aromas. It has a brilliant straw colour with greenish shades and an aroma of matured fruit such as pear, mango and citrus.

On the palate the rich flavours of lemon peel enhance the appealing mouthfeel, adding a well-balanced finish. Best served at 8-10 °C.

Food pairing: a perfect match for Mediterranean dishes, seafood, poultry, light-sauced pasta dishes and fresh vegetable salads.



Oh well !

I’ll add only a few of the medals and distinctions :


Malagousia  |  2015

Gold Medal

Vinalies Internationales, France

Malagousia  |  2015

Gold Medal

Mundus Vini Spring Tasting, Germany

Malagousia  |  2015

Gold Medal

Berliner Wein Trophy, Germany


Malagousia  |  2013

Gold Medal

Texsom International Wine Awards, Texas


Malagousia  |  2011

Gold Medal

Berliner Wein Trophy, Berlin

Malagousia  |  2011

Gold Medal

12th International Wine Competition of Thessaloniki


Malagousia  |  2010

Gold Medal

Decanter World Wine Awards, London

Malagousia  |  2010

Gold Medal

International Wine Competition of Thessaloniki


Malagousia  |  2009

Gold Medal

Decanter World Wine Awards, London


Malagousia  |  2008

Gold Medal

Selections Mondiales Des Vins, Canada






Dry White Wine, Retsina


Appellation by Tradition

Varietal Blend:

100% Assyrtiko


Goumenissa, Kilkis, North Greece


Alcoholic fermentation in new oak barrels from different regions and of various types and maturation for 6 months on its fine lees.


Yellow with golden shades.


Intense citrus aromas, in a background of vanilla and butter, with botanical notes of rosemary, thyme and ginger.


Explosively fruity, with intense minerality, delicate acidity and impressively long aftertaste.

Food pairing:

Pasta with lobster, seafood cooked with herbs, baked or grilled fatty fish, grilled vegetables, white meat and Mediterranean dishes rich in olive oil.

Best served at:



Some Awards and Medals :



Akakies Kir-Yianni 2015


Akakies is the final blend of two winemaking techniques: 90% of the must comes from skin contact and 10% from the “saignée” of grapes fermenting for red wine. Grapes are kept in a temperature between 11 and 14 ºC. After destemming and crushing, skin contact takes place under a CO2 atmosphere to avoid oxidization for 24 to 48 hours depending on the grape quality. After fermentation the wine is aged on its lees for 3 months with frequent lees-stirring in order to soften the natural acidity and give the wine an opulent character.
It can be enjoyed alone as an aperitif or matched perfectly with roasted chicken, dishes based on salmon or tuna and vegetarian dishes of the mediterranean or asian cuisine.

Analytical Data

Alcohol:  12.0%
pH:  3.18
Titratable acidity:  6.5 g/L
Volatile acidity:  0.44 g/L
Residual sugar:  1.8 g/L
Phenolic index:  19.25
Color intensity:  0.5/0.92
Free/Total sulfites:  21/81 ppm



TYPE: Rose dry wine
VARIETAL: Xinomavro and Moschomavro
VINEYARD: Northern and Central Macedonia


  • Macedonia in Northern Greece is the melting pot where western humanism meets eastern spirituality, where European realism meets Mediterranean sensuality. It is the meeting point of the enduring currency of Greek thought and the technological progress essential to the western lifestyle. Indeed a special land steeped in toil and struggles, but also the birthplace of outstanding men as Alexander the Great and Aristotle, the cradle of unique civilization that marked the Balkans, Europe, the whole of the world.Viticulture:The long-standing viticultural tradition can also make Macedonia proud. Many ancient Greek cities, like Pella, Sindos and Pydna, were famous for their excellent wines. Archaeological findings like the Makedonian crater (340 B.C.), which inspired the design of the Makedonian wine bottles, bear witness to a lengthy wine-growing tradition in this area.
    Today, we manage almost 570 hectares of vineyards in several locations that carry a distinctive winemaking tradition of thousands of years, offering grapes and wines highly esteemed among the wine lovers all around the world. The area stands out for great reds based mostly on Xinomavro, but also other local varieties as Moschomavro.
  • The vineyards are located in the hilly countryside of Northern and Central Makedonia. The soil is bright sandy clay, rich in minerals. The climate is continental balanced with sufficient humidity in Northern Macedonia. In Central Makedonia, the climate is moderate, with adequate humidity for the perfect maturation of the grapes; long summer days, light rainfall and cool nights.


A vibrant rose colour with ripe strawberries on the nose and raspberry jam-like flavours. Round and full taste with a surprisingly clean finish.Ideal with chicken salad, pasta carbonara, grilled sea bass, poached salmon, roast chicken with parsley and thyme.

Agiorgitiko by Gaia 2013


Having created two different wines from the world class Agiorgitiko grape, NOTIOS Red, a wine designed to be enjoyed in its youth, and GAIA ESTATE, a wine with a long ageing potential, we knew that we had not fully expressed the potential of this versatile variety. Thus, we have bridged the gap and added to our portfolio AGIORGITIKO BY GAIA, a wine that was the missing link of that admirable chain of wines produced by Agiorgitiko.

AGIORGITIKO BY GAIA is a well-structured wine with intense ripe fruit aromas and well-integrated oak flavours. Under proper cellar conditions, it can be aged 2-4 years after release evolving into a velvety and more composite wine. AGIORGITIKO BY GAIA pairs best with red meat dishes that are rich, intense and spicy, at a temperature between 16ο and 18οC.

91 points in Wines & Spirits Competition

Agiorgitiko by Gaia 2004

Decanter Word Wine Awards

Agiorgitiko by Gaia 2001
Agiorgitiko by Gaia 2010

Decanter Word Wine Awards

Ramnista Kir-Yianni 2011 Xinomavrou


Aromas of strawberry, vanilla and sweet spices on the nose, plenty of volume and richness on the palate, where the aromas of the oak balance with the pleasant acidity and the fruity aftertaste of the wine. The 2012 Ramnista is a Xinomavro with a soft mouthfeel coming from a vintage that produced expressive and very aromatic wines.
Rare aromatic complexity with intense tannin structure and robust acidity. An excellent pair for red meat and game.
Alcohol:  13.4 %vol
pH:  3.47
Titratable acidity:  5.5 g/lt
Volatile acidity:  0.68
Residual sugar:  3.7 g/lt
Phenolic index:  n/a
Color intensity:  n/a
Free/Total sulfites:  n/a
The vineyards used for Ramnista have an overall southeast exposure at an altitude of 280-330 m. The estate is divided into a mosaic of 30 vineyard blocks of different mesoclimates with varying exposure, orientation, slope, soil type, rootstock, vine density and age, demanding tailor-made viticultural practices for each vineyard block. Rainfall is abundant during the winter months, but summers are so dry that regulated drip irrigation is applied to prevent water stress. Vine density ranges from 3,500 to 4,000 per hectare and the average crop yield is maintained below 2.5 kg per vine. About 5% of the estate is planted with various rare indigenous and international varieties for experimental purposes. For “Ramnista” we use grapes mostly from the vineyard blocks in the lower pH range and with lighter soil types to maximize the aromatic intensity and complexity. Moreover most of these blocks are closest to the nearby forest, where the more humid mesoclimate leads to a more tempered ripening pace.
The grapes are handpicked and sorted on a conveyor belt before crush. After a six–day pre-fermentation cold soak at 8-10° C, the must undergoes a 12-15 day vinification at controlled temperatures. Fermentation temperature does not exceed 25°C. Roughly one third of the wine ferments in open-top tanks with pigeage. The final blend is made five months after harvest and the last racking takes place about six months later. We use both French and American oak, new oak up to 25%, and about 25% 500-lt casks. We filter very lightly.

Muscat of Samos 2014 – Vin Doux



90 points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

 The 2014 Muscat Vin Doux comes in with 207 grams per liter of residual sugar and 15% alcohol. It is unoaked. At the price (for a 375ml bottle), this is simply a steal most years. Fresh, sweet and pure, it manages to seem very friendly despite some pretty scary statistics. Laced with peach, apricot and a touch of mint, this is delicious but lively, with a lingering finish. All those Muscat aromas and flavors survive the sugar and come to the fore beautifully. At the quoted price, dessert-wine lovers should be running to find it. Note, though, that it is easy enough to drink on its own. As sweet as it is, it is never cloying or overly thick. (MS)  (6/2015)


Pure Gold!

Wine & Spirits

 A weighty muscat, this carries honeyed lemon and tea notes on a viscous texture.  (8/2015)


K&L Notes

The signature sweet Muscat dessert wine from this cooperative on the Aegean island of Samos, one of Greece’s original co-ops and a top producer of the island’s famous Muscat. Samos boasts an extremely steep terrain, which means many of the vineyards here, especially those at high elevation, are planted on pezoules, or terraces. The trouble this provides in terms of necessitating hand harvesting is more than made up for by the wine’s quality and immensely pleasurable taste. This dessert wine is fortified to 15% abv. It offers the unctuous, exotic flavors typically associated with the grape, along with soft acidity and a nutty, rich finish. Ideal when served just before coffee, accompanied by hard cookies or just on its own.

Mavrodaphne Cambas NV Red, Sweet / Dessert Wine


Mavrodaphne or Mavrodafni (Greek: Μαυροδάφνη lit. ‘black laurel’) is both a black wine grapeindigenous to the Achaea region in Northern Peloponnese, Greece, and the sweet, fortified wine first produced from it by BavarianGustav Clauss in around 1850.

Mavrodaphne is initially vinified in large vats exposed to the sun. Once the wine reaches a certain level of maturity, fermentation is stopped by adding distillate prepared from previous vintages. Then the Mavrodaphne distillate and the wine, still containing residual sugar, is transferred to the underground cellars to complete its maturation. There it is “educated” by contact with older wine using the solera method of serial blending. Once aged, the wine is bottled and sold as a dessert wine under the Mavrodafni Protected designation of origin.

Mavrodaphne is a dark, almost opaque wine with a dark purple reflected color and a purple-brown transmitted color. It presents aromas and flavors of caramel, chocolate, coffee, raisins and plums.

An unforgettable drinking experience.  Like a light port in style, it is much easier to drink than its heavier counterpart but still retains the qualities that make blue stilton, chocolate tart and fruit cake taste amazing.  A juicy raisin and ripe fig palate, perfect balance, a soft texture and a long length conspire to make this wine something very special.  Drink chilled or at room temperature as an aperitif or at the end of a meal.


It isn’t often that you can trace the emergence of a grape and a style of wine to a particular winery or even a particular year, but with Mavrodaphne, we can do just that.  In 1859, a Bavarian gentleman by the name of Gustav Clauss bought some land in Achaia, in the neighborhood of Riganokampos near the city of Patras.  Patras, as we learned when we took a look at the Roditis grape, is located at the very top of the Peloponnese Peninsula in Greece (map).  Gustav was initially interested in growing blackcurrants, but he planted a few vines on his 60 acre spread as well.  In 1861, he founded the Achaia Clauss winery on his property and began making wines from the local Mavrodaphne grape.

There is a story that says that Gustav named his wines after a girlfriend or lover he had named Daphne, but there are indications that they grape was grown in this area prior to Clauss’s arrival (some sources say he brought the grape from one of the many nearby islands, but that doesn’t seem to be quite right either).  Prior to Clauss’s arrival, most of the wines made from the grape in the area were regular table wines that were a little bit sweet, but Clauss decided to use some of the techniques used in Port production to create a different kind of wine.  He stopped fermentation short by introducing neutral grain spirits, which allowed the wine to retain more of its natural sugar while boosting the alcohol level.  He then put the sweet fortified wines in open oak barrels and aged them for several years.  Prior to the mid 20th Century, the wines were aged in casks outdoors for six years, but today they’re aged indoors for around eight years (though some of the higher end bottlings are aged for many decades).  The Achaia Clauss winery pioneered this style of Mavrodaphne and they are still selling their version of it today, though they’re not the only game in town anymore by any stretch of the imagination.  Mavrodaphne is increasingly made into still, dry table wines, but these are still in a distinct minority and are very difficult to find.

There are a handful of grapes throughout Greece either with the word mavro in their name (see Mavrotragano and Xinomavro for two we’ve covered here) or which are known simply as Mavro, and some have thought that these grapes may be related.  As far as I know, no relationship has been found between these grapes, which makes sense when you recall that mavro is just the Greek word for “black,” and is used in much the same way as noir or nero in France or Italy (the daphne part of the name just means “laurel”*).  It is a thick-skinned grape that grows in fairly loose bunches and can suffer badly from overproduction, so yields must be kept in check to prevent thin, diluted wines.  The vine is highly susceptible to both drought conditions and some forms of mildew, so the water given to and around the vines must be carefully monitored.

There are at least two clonal variants of Mavrotragano discussed in Konstantinos Lazarakis’ The Wines of Greece.  The more common one, which is grown mainly in the area of Achaia, is known as Regnio, and is distinguished by its tighter bunch formations and different leaf shape.  The other clone is known as Tsigelo and it is characterized by its smaller bunches and, some say, higher quality wines.  Mavrodaphne is grown mostly in the area around Patras, but there is also some grown on the island of Cephalonia where it is made into a similar style of wine.  The Cephalonians claim that they use a superior clone of Mavrodaphne, but it looks like their clone is very closely related to Tsigelo.  There is also a Cephalonian grape called Thiniatiko, which may be the same as the Tsigelo clone of Mavrodaphne, or which may only be closely related.


I was able to try two different Mavrodaphne wines.  Both of them were from Patras, both were in this sweet fortified style, and I picked up both of them from Wollaston Wine and Spirits.  The first wine was the NV Mavrodaphne from Cambas winery, which cost around $11.  In the glass, the wine was a fairly light tawny purple color.  The nose was moderately intense with raisin and prune fruits along with a bit of dusty leather.  On the palate, the wine was on the fuller side of medium with fairly high acidity.  It was pretty sweet with flavors of raisin, fig, chocolate, burnt sugar, molasses, dulche de leche, dried cranberries and prunes, which is an awful lot to have going on for only $11.  The wine is 15% alcohol, but it carries it well and doesn’t come across hot at all.  I kept the bottle on my counter with only a cork on the top of it for a few weeks, and it was drinking consistently well throughout that time period.  It’s kind of like a slightly oxidized ruby port, but at a much nicer price point.  I enjoyed it so much, I actually went back to the store so that I could try the other Mavrodaphne wine that they had in stock.

That wine was the NV Achaia Clauss “Imperial,” which also had a retail price of $11.  For some reason, Achaia Clauss doesn’t have this wine listed on their website, but I was surprised to see that in their higher end Mavrodaphne wines, there is actually a very high percentage of a grape called Black Corinthian.  Markus over at the always excellent Elloinos explains that the regulations for Mavrodaphne of Patras allow for up to 49% (!) of Black Corinthian.  Achaia Clauss actually does use the entire 49% in the wine that’s one step up from this one (the “601”) on their quality ladder, so I’m guessing the percentage is similarly high here.  In the glass, this wine was a fairly deep brownish-tawny color.  The nose was powerfully intense with aromas of raisin, prune, fig, baking spice, caramel and scorched brown sugar.  On the palate the wine was on the fuller side of medium with fairly high acidity.  Again, it was sweet with flavors of raisin, prune, fig, burnt sugar, smoke, brown sugar, caramel, baking spice and even some black pepper.  This wine was also 15% alcohol, but seemed to be wearing it a little more clumsily.  It was still a phenomenally deep and complex wine, though, that really over delivered on its meager price tag.  This also sat around on my counter top for a few weeks without suffering for it at all.  It threw a pretty heavy sediment, which surprised me a little, but isn’t something that I have any kind of problem with.  I preferred it to the Cambas Mavrodaphne, but wouldn’t hesitate to recommend either one of them


Vineyards in Santorini

I have to admit that this wine experience was besides entertaining and enjoyable , a very interesting one , as We have not been exposed to Greek wines , not unless one has traveled and had a Greek wine with dinner ( or lunch ) on one of the amazing Greek islands of the Mediterranean Sea so , it was perfect !



Published on April 18, 2016 at 12:18  Comments Off on Chapter 2.6.2. general View on Greek Wines  
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