For this month’s wine club, Caitlin suggested we go Greek–so near Italy, with such an ancient grape history. We were curious–why is it that the intolerable Retsina is the only wine that comes to mind? Inspired by the Wine and Spirits (June issue) article on great Greek cheeses, I picked up some Kefalograviera and Manouri along with some Kalamata olives, to which Kelleigh added some tzatziki and garlic hummus, and boy was I glad! If I learned anything by the end of the night, it’s that Greek wines (or at least the ones we sampled) live up to their wine potential when paired with Greek fare.
The first bottle, Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko-Athiri, 2007, from Santorini, was made from the indigenous grapes Assyrtiko (75%) and Athiri (25%). Very fruit forward, with a hint of minerality on the nose and palate (from the volcanic soils on the island), this wine garnered many reactions to its “high alcohol” taste. While one cannot technically taste alcohol, there was a bit of a burn at the back of the throat that softened with a slice of Manouri cheese. Purchased at Union Square Wines for $18, this wine did not come to rescue the tarnished reputation of Greek wines.
Next up we uncorked a bottle of the 2007 Gentilini Robola of Cephalonia made from the Robola grape. Pale lemon yellow in color, with a floral aroma that included minerals, honeydew, and stone fruit, the Robola was slightly effervescent and finished with a white pepper zip. Somewhat interesting on its own (and like the Domaine Sigalas, in possession of a “high alcohol” mask), the Gentilini Robola paired well with the Manouri, paired really well with the tzatziki, and became a sophisticated varietal with the Kalamata olives, which softened all the harsh elements found in this wine.
The Moschofilero Boutari 2006 from the Mantinia region of Peloponnese was an interesting pick. Pale green lemon yellow and reminiscent of riesling on the nose–floral and full of petrol–its similarities waned once the wine was sipped. Slightly buttery and acidic with the essence of concord grape, the flavors were balanced nicely when paired with the Kefalograviera.
Lastly, the finest of the bunch, 2007 Gaia Estate Moschofilero Notios. Pale lemon yellow with citrus on the nose and pear (as in Sauvignon Blanc), this medium-acidity wine was the steeliest of the bunch, with a lingering finish that pared quite well with hummus.