12 Oct Greek Wine: The New Old World
Being one of the birthplaces of wine, its wine production history goes back to as early as 3500 BC. But unfortunately much is lost and only recently it has seen a new resurrect of this glorious past in wine culture and started to gain momentum internationally.
At the Greek Wine Masterclass presented by Ms. Corinne Mui, Greek Wine Ambassador and COO of AWSEC (HK-based wine education institute) during Vinexpo, Mui covered the winemaking history, climate and geography of major Greek wine regions, and guided the participants through a flight of 6 representative wines from Greece (mostly made with indigenous varieties).
There are more than 200 Greek grape varieties, out of which 50 are commercially significant. Currently, the Greek wine appellation system consists of more than 70 PDO and PGI zones. Key varieties include Moschofilero (white) from Mantinia, Assyrtiko (white) from Santorini, Agiorgitiko (red) from Nemea and Xinomavro (red) from Naoussa.
Moschofilero is a “grey” grape variety which looks pinkish (similar to Pinot Grigio) and used only for making white wines. It is distinguished for its freshness, vivid yet delicate aromas – very floral, full of rose petals and citrus flowers, crisp acidity and relatively low alcohol content (in a sense quite Moscato-like).
Assyrtiko, on the other hand, is much more structured. It is one of the most known Greek grape varieties internationally (thanks to the booming tourism of Santorini) and displays the signature high acidity no matter where it’s planted (the acidity is on a par with that of a cool climate Riesling!). Its aromas are reminiscent of green apple, white peach, minerals, metals and crushed seashells, accompanied often by a nervy structure and high alcohol content.
As for the red varieties, Agiorgitiko is so far the most abundant and widely recognised red variety. It produces medium to full bodied wines of deep colour, relatively smooth texture and intense nose of red fruits such as sour wild cherry and raspberry. It is also known for its ability to pair beautifully with oak, adding fragrances of sweet spices, coffee and chocolate to the wine when it matures.
Meanwhile, Xinomavro (sometimes considered the Pinot Noir or Nebbiolo of Greece) is nobly defined by its high level of dry tannins and soaring acidity, which makes it a wine with great ageing potential.