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By Yiannis Karakasis
In case you happened to read my article on the double delight of wine, which I had originally named x2, but had to have it retitled due to the Search Engine Optimization protocol – life has really changed, hasn’t it? - you may have noticed that I enjoy grouping wines. I don’t do this purely for my own pleasure, but because it serves a purpose which is more practical and essential. The world of wine is gigantic, and often chaotic, to the consumer; therefore when we write about it we need to break it down in a way that will make it more comprehensible.
Today, I will be referring to a small selection of white and red wines that I think have an X factor that makes them stand out. Most of them have an excellent price-quality ratio, and this is a basic asset of Greek wines, particularly in the up to 15 euro category. Nevertheless, during the holiday period, there is often room for some extravagance and for this reason I have included the big spender category.
Up to 12 Euros
The first wine in this price range comes from the Manousakis winery. It is one of the up and coming white varieties called Vidiano; the diva of the Cretan vineyards. Vidiano is a rather aromatic variety with a strong apricot character. Here, it has been partially matured in oak to add depth, aromas and texture. It is round and creamy, without being heavy, due to its relatively high acidity. An absolutely delicious food wine. Turkey, bird game, but also white meats or big fish are a perfect match.
Here we are stretching the upper limit of the low price category by a fraction. Kostas Lalikos is one of the most amiable vintners in the country and he produces some of the best value for money wines. Signal is an authentic Assyrtiko from a single vineyard, that combines the earthy and mineral character of the variety with an expressive peachy fruit. Delicately crispy on the palate, with weight and excellent balance; a first-class wild card for the festive table.
Although 2010 might not have been the best vintage for Naoussa, Vaeni managed to produce a very decent wine, due to very careful selection of the fruit, which has already begun to develop secondary complexity. Spicy, fruity with earthy notes, it delivers a high level of fruit intensity and a firm structure on the palate, without being austere or angular. Ideal to accompany meat and “mature” cheeses, while maintaining the X factor element of being below 9 euros.
Up to 25 euros
The Cephalonian Robola from the Melissinos / Petrakopoulos boutique winery is a brilliant example of a variety that combines rich aromas with the mineral dimension of limestone soils, that are abundantly found on the island. Fat but fresh, with the fruit flowing like a river on the palate, yet maintaining grace and elegance. An amazing “terroir” wine to accompany the first course of your festive dinner.
2013 was one of the best vintages both for Xinomavro and Amyndeon. The wine shows wonderful red fruit purity and floral aromas on the nose, combined with a refined, almost silky texture on the palate; this is gained by the old autochthonous vines. Quality such as this, at a price which is this reasonable, is just remarkable.
An anniversary and collectible last vintage from Averoff Estate Cabernet Sauvignon that comes in a bottle with an exceptional design. The grapes are sourced from one of the highest vineyards, at 1000 meters altitude, in the area of Yiniets in Metsovo. It expresses the cool climate terroir of the area, with a vibrant character, chunky fruit and solid tannins. A wine that will be unavailable in the future, so get two bottles, one to open now and one to cellar.
If you have strong flavours on the table, big glasses and a decanter, Trilogia is the perfect wine for you. Wild at heart with opulent black fruit, and high aromatic complexity, it has what we call fruit depth, meaning that there are multiple layers to our perception of the fruit, which rise to the surface in succession, as if we have put our hand on a painting and feel its successive coatings. Vigorous, an almost plain and austere Cabernet Sauvignon on the palate, it needs pure but intense flavors to accentuate its calibre.
The new vintage of La Tour Melas, with the coexistence of the ethereal Cabernet Franc and the charming Merlot, is a wonderful wine of undisputed Bordeaux - St Emilion - character that will impress you. Small production, refined, velvety character in a synchronized melody of the two classic varieties. Pair it with the more sophisticated dishes of the festive menu.
Last but not least, the new Thimopoulos-Chryssos endeavour, from Santorini, that raised a lot of dust with its price, but also several eyebrows that wondered "how much?". The wine is crystal clear, with an impeccable fruit purity and it is undoubtedly one of the top labels of Santorini. Its biggest advantage is its balance; robust but also ethereal. As for its price, our big spenders can discuss it at the table!