We had the pleasure of attending our third “Meet the Winemakers of Greece” event in NY on May 19 put on by our friends Sophia Perpera and George Athanas of All About Greek Wine and sampling the new offerings. One theme came out very strongly…they are experimenting with blends of the traditional indigenous grapes with more familiar international varietals. Some of the most interesting were:

Mextoxi X 2008 from Tsantali, a blend of Assyrtiko, Athiri and Sauvignon Blanc…super rich and a nice balance of acid to complement food. (That’s me and Perikles Drakos, the export manager for Tsantali) There’s a great story here…the vines are grown on the slopes of Mt. Athos on a remote peninsula in the North Aegean populated only by Greek Orthodox monks…and for the past 600 years only males have been allowed to enter…including only male donkeys as farm labor.

–I was also impressed by George SkourasMegas Oenos Red 2006 The name means “big wine” and very appropriately so…a virtual explosion in the mouth, with a wonderful blend of fruit, structure and a finish that goes on forever. It’s a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Aghiorghitiko, one of the seemingly unpronounceble autochthons that the Greeks have co-named “St. George”…much easer to say.

–Yiannis Paraskevopoulos hosted the Gai’a table. He’s one of if not the most influential of the new crop of winemakers in Greece with a Phd from Bordeaux and a teaching post at the school of oenology at the Univ. of Athens. Everything he makes is fabulous, and he pulled out an experiment/hidden gem for us to taste…an Assyrtiko made with wild yeasts. The star of his showing was the Gaia Estate 2006 Nemea St. George…big, powerful, and perfectly balanced and structured. I’d put it up against any of the cult California Cabs.

–I said there was a theme, and Pavlidis Estate which is in Drama (northeastern Macedonia) from Athenee Importers. They have a line of “Thema” wine simply named White, Rose and Red. Each is a blend of indigenous and familiar varietals. The rose was most interesting in that it is made from 100% tempranillo which is vinified as both a white and red wine and then blended to make a rose. I generally don’t like rose’s (in spite of all the recent hype they’ve gotten) but this was spectacular.