WINE JOURNAL #14

“People don’t remember days; they remember moments!” Wines, restaurants, aromas, moments and ideas, all dully noted.

Last week, I visited the Zea Marina in Piraeus and, although it was only a half hour’s drive from home, it made me feel as if I were on vacation. I chose to have lunch at the very popular “Hams and Clams,” a brightly lit cosmopolitan oyster bar with minimalist decor overlooking the yachts and luxury cruisers in the Marina. The large windows allow in ample sunlight and you only need a few oysters, some seabream tartar, a lovely plate of seafood pasta and a glass (or two) of Apla Rosé 2018 by Oenops Wines to feel that you’re in paradise! For me, the Apla did the job: a lovely, pale, all-around rosé wine with aromas of red fruits, tomato paste and herbs, made from Xinomavro and Cabernet Sauvignon.

So you find mixing cocktails difficult. I understand. But here’s an idea for your summer drinks: Otto’s Athens Vermouth! Besides the fact that vermouth is very cool and back in fashion on a global scale, this refreshing and charming urban drink is ridiculously easy to prepare! The other day I just grabbed a highball glass and stirred Otto Athens Vermouth with tonic over ice and that was it; my drink had hints of rose petals, citrus fruit, orange peel, a modest sweetness and an overall summery character. For the record, vermouth is an aromatized fortified wine infused with herbs and spices, and sweetened. Try it!

Malagousia–Assyrtiko is a popular Greek white wine blend, from two quite different but complementary varieties. The Sirius 2018 white from the Georgios Lafazanis winery is a perfect example. We opened a bottle for our eldest son’s birthday and it charmed everyone; it was refreshing, food-friendly and vivid. Malagousia offers a tropical and herbaceous aromatic profile, while Assyrtiko offers texture, acidity and a mouthwatering lemony character.

The best Greek wine ever made. Is there such thing? I don’t know. What I know is that Vinsanto 2002 by Estate Argyros – which Robert Parker scored 98/100 – is one of the most memorable and moving wine experiences someone can have. Seventeen years of ageing – twelve of them in old oak barrels – give the wine an alluring complexity: toffee, caramel, roasted almonds, coffee, crème patisserie, sky-high acidity and a never-ending finish! Pick your dessert very carefully before pairing it with this gem from the volcanic island of Santorini! Either chocolate or caramel-based sweets will offer serious amounts of pure pleasure.

Celebrating Greek Orthodox Easter is a big deal in Greece, both spiritually and gastronomically! We spent a few days on the beautiful island of Lefkada and paired our Easter lamb with a lovely Xinomavro: Naoussa Argatia 2014 which is a modern version of the grape, replete with forest fruits, raspberries, tomato paste and earthy notes and with a very refreshing acidity that dries and refreshes the palate between fatty, meaty bites! The earthy aromas of the lamb suit the wine perfectly.

There’s nothing more adventurous – and rewarding – than ageing white wines with potential. I had a bottle of Ovilos 2012 by Ktima Biblia Chora with a simple mushroom risotto and aged graviera cheese shavings from Naxos, and the result was stunning! After six years, this iconic Greek wine has reached its peak and offers a generous bouquet of aromas: honeycomb, quince, meat broth, truffles and minerality. g

 

Author

  • Γρηγόρης Κόντος Dip WSET

    Oινογράφος, γευσιγνώστης, απόφοιτος αρχικά του Οικονομικού Πανεπιστημίου Αθηνών και στη συνέχεια πτυχιούχος sommelier από τη Le Monde και κάτοχος του WSET Diploma Level 4, με πολλές αδυναμίες: καλό φαγητό, υπέροχα κρασιά, ταξίδια, μουσικές, οικογένεια, φίλοι και bon vivant πράγματα γενικότερα. Ιδρυτής της Aegean Wine Selections, μιας εξειδικευμένης Εταιρείας εξαγωγών ελληνικού κρασιού σε χώρες της Ασίας και της Ευρώπης. Παράλληλη freelance δραστηριότητα (www.gregorykontos.gr) με υπηρεσίες οινικής κειμενογράφησης, αρθρογραφίας, διοργάνωσης tasting events και συμβουλευτικής εστιατορίων και οινοποιείων.

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