Tag Archives: Greek wine

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5-8PM

May 4, 2018

Vignoble du Rêveur Pierres Sauvages Sec 2016, Alsace

Vignoble du Rêveur (The Dreamer’s Vineyard) is the side project of Mathieu Deiss, whose main duties are still working the vineyards and cellar at the family domaine, the famed Domaine Marcel Deiss. Vignoble du Rêveur was established in 2013 with 7 hectares Mathieu inherited from his uncle and his maternal grandfather. The parcels are located mostly in the commune of Bennwihr, just outside the valley of Kaysersberg, and are certified organic and biodynamic. Mathieu vinifies Rêveur and Deiss in the same winery, since, as he puts it, he “simply cannot be in two places at once during harvest”. 

Pierres Sauvages is Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noir from 1.9 hectares of vines around 45 years old. It’s fermented via spontaneous fermentation in foudre (large oak barrels that hold up to a thousand liters, that are believed to preserve the vineyard character by minimizing both oak extraction and oxidation—they are also expensive, both to purchase and to maintain). It ages for one year on fine lees, and is bottled with minimal sulfur (Riesling Vibrations is bottled with no sulfur, and is available in the shop). The wine is richly aromatic, with peaches, pears, flowers and honey fluttering from the glass. It’s rich on the palate as well, the viscosity balanced by mineral tension and vibrant acidity. Delicious through and through. 

Domaine Frantz Chagnoleau Saint Veran ‘Prelude’ 2016, Burgundy

Domaine Frantz Chagnoleau is a small estate run by Frantz Chagnoleau and his wife Caroline Gon, who has herself been head winemaker at Les Héritiers du Comte Lafon since 2006; she holds two degrees, one in agricultural engineering, and another in oenology. After obtaining her degrees she worked at Newton Vineyards in Napa before returning to France to work with Dominique Lafon. Frantz graduated with a degree in Oenology from Bordeaux University in 2004, and then went on to work for Olivier Merlin at Domaine Merlin in the Mâconnais. The couple’s friendship with Lafon comes through in their elegant, pure, terroir driven wines. Since 2013 all of the vineyards have been certified organic.

Like Lafon, Frantz and Caroline believe in minimal intervention, and use only indigenous yeast. Harvest is by hand, and aging is in old French oak. This Chardonnay evokes the old vines and stony soil of the vineyards; flinty, chalky intensity, mineral-precision, pure and focused flavors of apples and white flowers…this is an elegant bottle of wine. 

Sclavos Tsaousi 2015, Cephalonia, Greece 

The Sclavos family can trace its roots back over many centuries on the Greek island of Cephalonia. In 1700, a branch of the family emigrated to the Black Sea port of Odessa, where they had contracts for using their privately-owned commercial boats for the distribution of wheat. Records from 1860 show the family owned a large winery and estate in Odessa. In 1919, following the Russian Revolution, the grandfather of present owner Evriviadis Sclavos returned to the family’s 6 hectares in the Paliki peninsula and planted his first vines of Mavrodaphne and Vostilidi, some of which are still bearing fruit today. The mountainous terrain of the area provides a number of microclimates that are ideal for growing a variety of grapes, like those grown at Sclavos. 

The property is situated on limestone and is farmed biodynamically (or homeodynamic, as they call it), and all wines are made the same way: from non-irrigated, low-yielding, original rootstock bush vines, via spontaneous yeast fermentaion, bottled unfined and unfiltered, and with very little sulphur. These are some of the most lo-fi wines produced in Greece. 

100% Tsaousi from vines that are 60 years old, or older, this wine is a little wild; it’s orangey—golden hued, not from skin-contact, but rather from intentionally oxidative style, kind of like a Jura wine, or sherry. It’s herbal, savory, hazy, a bit salty, and finishes like a lemon-edged, Mediterranean sunset. 

Calabretta, ‘Gaio Gaio’ Vino Rosso, Etna

The Calabrettas are the fourth generation farming their family’s seven hectares of nearly 100 year old, ungrafted, organic vines (as well as olive and fruit trees) on the north side of Mt. Etna. In 1997 Massimo and Massimiliano dug a new cellar and winery into the black, volcanic rock, where old oak an indigenous yeast work their magic. Before the new winery, the family only sold its wine in sfuso, or in barrel, to restaurants and private customers, many of whom would travel long distances to pick up their wine. Calabretta is old-school, and is known for long aging; the Etna Rosso ages much like Barolo and Brunello were aged decades ago: in massive, neutral Slavonian oak for 6 to 7 years… They don’t use any chemical herbicides or pesticides, harvest is by hand, and fermentation is with wild yeast. 

Gaio Gaio translates as Joy Joy (Gaio is the nickname of Gaetano Calabretta). It is 100% Nerello Mascalese from 2 plots of young vines, 50% on original rootstock, fermented in wood, and aged on fine lees in Slavonian oak barrels for about 11 months. Cherries and smoke, red berries and earth, medium-bodied, grainy tannins and fresh acidity; this wine is perfect grill-side! 

Domaine Glinavos ‘Vlahiko’ 2013, Zitsa, Greece 

Domaine Glinavos is in the semi‐mountainous region of DO Zitsa, Ioannina, more reminiscent of Austria or Switzerland than Mediterranean Greece. Limestone soils influence the production of wines that tend toward bright acidity and lacy minerality, and the cold winters and cooler summers produce wines that tend to be lower ABV, frequently struggling to achieve 12.5. 

Lefteris Glinavos was one of a handful of rogue winemakers who set out in the 70s to steer Greece away from bulk production and into smaller-scale, boutique winemaking. This group of young winemakers who all hailed from humble, winemaking regions, decided to travel abroad to hone their skills which they would bring back to Greece. Lefteris chose to pursue his studies in Bordeaux, returning in 1978 to establish Domaine Glinavos. Lefteris’ son Thomas is now in charge of the 20 hectare property, made up of multiple, high-elevation plots of indigenous varieties Debina, Vlahiko, and Bekari. 

Vlahiko (which may be blended with a bit of Bekari) has an old-world character, and not just because of the embroidery pictured on the label (for which the region is known). It ages for two years in French oak, and is full of earthy, peppery, spicy notes, as well as what the producer describes as “fresh cut mushroom”, and lots of wild/woodsy-berry goodness, and crackly acidity. Have it with something fatty and salty! 

Friday Wine Tasting in the Shop, 5-8PM

April 20, 2018

Domaine Zafeirakis Malagousia 2016, Tyrnavos, Greece

The Zafeirakis family has been involved with viticulture in Tyrnavos in eastern-central Greece for more than 100 years. Christos Zafeirakis is the fourth generation to continue the family tradition; he got his degree in oenology in Athens in 2000, and then went on to get his master’s from the University of Milan in 2004. Soon after he returned to Greece and continued to make high quality wines from organically farmed vineyards, the same way his father had done. He made the first wines from his private vineyards in 2005.

Malagousia is a white grape rediscovered by oenologist and winemaker Evangelos Gerovassiliou. It yields highly aromatic, full-bodied wines throughout many regions in Greece. This is an elegant wine that evokes flowers and honeysuckle.

Partida Creus SP 2016, Penedes, Spain

Massimo Marchiori and Antonella Gerosa are the couple behind Partida Creus. Originally from Piedmont, the two (who are both architects) moved from Italy to Barcelona because of that city’s rich architecture. In 2000 they sought out a slower and more bucolic lifestyle, so they moved once again, this time to Massís de Bonastre in the Baix Penedés. They started farming, and when they found it difficult to find wines made in a lighter, minimalist style, they began recovering forgotten old vines of local, low-yielding, grape varieties, many of which had been  disqualified or never allowed into the D.O. Partida Creus farms organically, of course, and adds nothing in the cellar, it’s all native yeast fermentation, natural acidity and no sulfur. The wines are fresh and refreshing, with lots of acidity, low alcohol, terroir-driven minerality, and sometimes sherried-nutty-gamey undertones.

SP (lovingly called “Sub Par” on the label) is Subirat Parent, an old, nearly extinct clone of Malvasia that is supposedly native to Penedes, and also known as Alarije in Extremadura, and as Malvasia Riojana in Rioja. The wine is a clear, yellow-green that turns golden with age and tends toward expressions of orange peel, lemon, and floral/tropical aromatics. Fermented spontaneously in steel with native yeast and aged for 6 months in stainless-steel, then bottled unfiltered without any added sulfites.

Shiba Wichern 2015 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Willamette, OR

Akiko Shiba is a young Japanese winemaker who trained in Germany, and is now making gorgeous, minimal-intervention wine in Oregon with her husband Christian Wichern. She originally wanted to be a journalist and report on the world of alcoholic beverages; when she got out of college she worked as an editor for about two years at a culinary magazine called “Ou-sama no Kitchen” (The King’s Kitchen). At the same time that the magazine folded, Christian got a job in Germany, so they moved there together. She ended up working at a bar and getting very immersed in German beer. She began studying beer, but chance and circumstance led her to oenology school; the rest, as they say, is history.

This 2015 Rosé is not an old vintage, the wine is released late and is meant to be enjoyed for at least a few years or more afterward. After primary and malolactic fermentation, it rests on the lees in stainless steel for 8 months. According to the producers notes, “the goal of this extended time sur lies was greater complexity, body and depth, while retaining freshness. The result is a wine with a complex nose combining rich floral, salty and savory tones and a mouthfeel that is tart, bold and at the same time buttery smooth. This wine will refresh in the summer with BBQ and grilled foods, but it will also pair well with spicy Asian food and continue to all the way through Thanksgiving and Christmas with roasted turkey and ham.” All of this is true, but we’d like to add that this rosé smells and tastes like still Champagne, in the best way possible. It’s leesy, yeasty, slightly sherried on the finish…when the wine is just opened it has a touch of funky, tart acidity, but that blows off and rounds out, and reveals its elegant, evolving character.

G D Vajra, Claret JC Nebbiolo 2016, Langhe, Italy

G.D. Vajra was officially established in 1972 (named after Aldo’s father, Giuseppe Domenico) but the family roots in the region go back over two centuries. Aldo Vajra has been making wine here since the late 60s. Today the estate is close to 60 hectares, 10 of which are planted to Nebbiolo for Barolo production. Farming is organic, grapes are hand-harvested, and aging is done in traditional Slavonian casks. Aldo and Milena’s children Giuseppe, Francesca, and Isidoro are now carrying on the family business and traditions.

This is not your grandfather’s Nebbiolo, it’s your great, great, great, great(?) grandfather’s Nebbiolo. Giuseppe is producing it in the Metodo Ancestrale style that harks back to Thomas Jefferson’s time but slipped out of fashion in the 1950s: fermentation starts in the tank on the skins and finishes in the bottle, creating a slightly off-dry, lightly sparkling wine (the fizz might subside before the bottle is finished). Serve with a slight chill, and this wine will pair perfectly with warm spring and summer days that surely *SURELY* will become a reality. What is even going on anymore? But we’re fans of not waiting for the weather for anything, so toss back this spicy, floral, ripe, ruby-colored throwback with pizza, pasta, salumi, olives, cheese, etc…it’s glou glou.