GREAT WINE | CELLAR RAT

Γιάννης Καϋμενάκης, Wine Sommelier

Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of discussion and some disagreement about when and who will release the highly anticipated next “great” Greek wine. Because of this, I’ve taken this opportunity to discuss what these great wines are all about, and whether we have nurtured the right conditions to produce wines of such calibre in our wineries.

To begin with, it makes sense to clarify the meaning of the word “great.” Great wines do not simply establish themselves because of arbitrarily exorbitant prices or their creator’s great expectations. On the contrary, they require long-term involvement, a substantial historical record in the field of viticulture, and a producer’s commitment to a vision. Even if this may sound vague, or complex, or even a little mythic, believe me when I tell you it’s really much simpler than that. I remember myself at the onset of my career, visiting all the hallowed wine behemoths of Europe, expecting to witness dazzling productions, castles and cellars, mysterious and sophisticated oenological practices, and an abundance of stardust. I assure you that the people I met were very much down to earth and did only what was absolutely necessary. As Auguste Clape told me on the steep slopes of Cornas, “Nature does most of the work.” Now, to cut to the chase: from a gustatory point of view, things are even simpler. Great wines need no introductions or intricate descriptions and, more importantly for us mortals, a bottomless pit of knowledge is not a requisite to enjoy them! In some sincere way, great wines demand that we enjoy them, and as Michael Broadbent once wrote, they defy any sort of analysis. Furthermore, I’ve noticed how, when a great wine is served, the whole table goes silent and an enormous smile of relief plays upon all the diners’ faces. In other words, you will enjoy a 1990 Château Margaux much more in the company of good friends than with a bunch of erudite wine lovers looking to over-analyze it.

Coming back to our own case at hand, I believe that over the last few decades Greece has produced some very lovely and well-made wines. But that alone does not grant us the right to prematurely call ourselves “great.” It ιs only a matter of time before wines worthy of a cellar’s top shelf pedigree emerge. Now, as to which region will stand out when that moment comes, I dare say, with little to no impartiality, that it will be the Naoussa region, with its unique Xinomavro. g

 

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