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Southeastern Europe - Top Producers of Greece

DK PublishingDK Publishing 2/07/2014 DKBooks
Photo: Tsantali’s wine cellar © Provided by DKBooks Tsantali’s wine cellar

Tsantali’s wine cellar

Harlaftis

Estate Biblia Chora

Top Producers of Greece

Boutari - Macedonia

location: Stenimachos, Naoussa
telephone number: 23320 41666
website: www.boutari.gr
wine styles: red, white, rosé, dessert, retsina
best vintages: 2003, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1997, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1990
recommended wines: Domaine Selladia, Cava Boutari (red)

Boutari, one of Greece’s oldest producers, has seen massive expansion from its small roots in Naoussa. Now the biggest player in Greece with an output of over 11 million liters annually, Boutari acquired the Attican producer Cambas in 1992. Although now publicly owned, it remains firmly under family control, and the quality of the terroir-driven wines is as consistently high as ever. Boutari boasts one of the largest arrays of indigenous and international grape varieties in Greece.


Domaine Constantine Lazaridi - Macedonia

location: Adriani, Drama
telephone number: 25210 82231
wine styles: red, white, rosé
best vintages: 2003, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1997, 1995 (r), 1994, 1993, 1992, 1990
recommended wines: Château Julia Assyrtiko, Amethystos: Rosé, Cava

At this winery in Macedonia, both native and international varieties are used to make a dynamic range of varietals and blends, from fresh, pinpoint-accurate whites to dense, long-lived, barrel-aged cavas (aged wines). For many years, Constantine Lazaridi has been one of the region’s most internationally respected names.


Domaine Gerovassiliou - Macedonia

location: Epanomi, Thessaloniki
telephone number: 22860 32466
website: www.gerovassiliou.gr
wine styles: red, white
best vintages: 2003, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1997, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1990
recommended wines: Syrah, Domaine Gerovassiliou

Evangelos Gerovassiliou is one of the great pioneers of the Greek wine industry, and arguably the finest winemaker in Greece. Very skilled with both native and international varieties, he resurrected the long-forgotten white Malagousia grape using a cutting from a vine growing on a friend’s arbor. His wines are consistently excellent: elegant, stylish, and fresh. The beautifully concentrated, harmonious Syrah is superlative.


Estate Biblia Chora - Macedonia

location: Kook Kinohori, Kavala
telephone number: 25920 44974
wine styles: red, white, rosé
best vintages: 2003, 2001
recommended wines: Biblia Chora (red, white)

Formed by maestro winemaker Vassilis Tsaktsarlis and the legendary Gerovassiliou in 2001, this estate is the result of one of the most important partnerships in the modern Greek wine industry. Decades of expertise have had an immediate impact. Old World–style mineral whites and rosés with enchanting fresh acidity, and medium-bodied, gloriously scented, elegant reds add a flourish to this talent-filled estate.


Estate Kyr-Yanni - Macedonia

location: Yanakohori, Naoussa
telephone number: 23320 51100
wine styles: red, white, rosé
best vintages: 2003, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1997, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1990
recommended wines: Yianakohori, Ramnista, Syrah

High in the mountains of Naoussa, Yiannis Boutari (of the Boutari clan) has won worldwide acclaim as the finest producer of the lean, tannic, acidic Xinomavro grape. He has managed to soften the wine from his old vines, giving it an unusually seductive body, without losing any of the leathery, tobacco, minty, medium-weight fruit characteristics of the grape. The Syrah has a firm tannic edge and a robustness that has staggering depth and complexity with bottle age.


Tsantali - Macedonia

location: Aghios Pavlos, Halkidiki
telephone number: 23990 76100
website: www.tsantali.gr
wine styles: red, white, rosé, dessert, retsina
best vintages: 2003, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1997, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1990
recommended wines: Rapsáni Reserve, Metoxi

This massive producer focuses mainly on northern and central Greece, but has interests scattered all over the country. It has an annual output of 18 million liters and an impressive range of wines, from the bottom-level easy-drinking Makedonikos and Thessalikos labels to some of the most hedonistic, powerful yet supple, long-lived Xinomavro-Krassato reds.


Domaine Evharis - Central Greece & Attica

location: Mourtiza, Megara
telephone number: 22960 90346
website: www.evharis.gr
wine styles: red, white, rosé, sparkling
best vintages: 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997
recommended wines: Merlot, Syrah, Assyrtiko

This grand, very influential Attican estate is owned by entrepreneur Haris Antoniou and his partner Eva Boehme. This quality-driven pair cuts no corners: a state-of-the-art winery and masterful use of oak mean world-class wines every vintage. The replanting of indigenous grapes has been successful, and the estate’s delicate Merlot and Syrah are wrought in a fine Old World style.


Domaine Vassiliou - Central Greece & Attica

location: 26 Klm Av Lavriou, Koropi
telephone number: 21066 26870
website: www.vassilioudomaine.gr
wine styles: red, white, rosé, retsina
best vintages: 2003, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1990
recommended wines: Fumé, Mantinia, Rosé

One of Attica’s fastest-rising stars, George Vassiliou wins more competitions with every vintage. Fresh, fabulously complex Savatiano, Roditis, and Moschofilero whites and intense, brooding, solidly structured Aghiorghitiko-Cabernet Sauvignon reds are Vassiliou’s forte. His use of French oak just gets better and better.


Harlaftis - Central Greece & Attica

location: Leoforos Stamatas 11, Stamata Atticis, Attica
telephone number: 21062 19374
website: www.harlaftis.gr
wine styles: red, white, rosé
best vintages: 2003, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1990
recommended wines: Château Harlaftis Cabernet Sauvignon, Argilos Ghi, Domaine Harlaftis Chardonnay

Pilot Diogenis Harlaftis and his wife Adda restarted this family winery in Attica in 1979, and it is now run by their son Nikos. Harlaftis has expanded into the Peloponnese, and makes an excellent red from Aghiorghitiko—Argilos Ghi—a soft, heady wine that captures the region’s unique terroir perfectly. From Attica, Château Harlaftis Cabernet Sauvignon, with its multitude of complex flavors elegantly wrapped in new oak, and some mouthwateringly oaked whites are very appealing.


Achaia Clauss - Peloponnese

location: Petroto, Patras
telephone number: 26103 25051
wine styles: red, white, rosé, dessert, retsina
best vintages: 2003, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1990
recommended wines: Château Clauss, Pelopas (red), Mavrodaphne Grand Reserve 1979

Bavarian Nobleman Gustav Clauss founded this beautiful estate in 1859. The story goes that he fell in love with one of his workers—Daphne—and, when she died without ever learning of his feelings, he created the red Mavrodaphne grape in her memory. Though it is now widely grown, Achaia Clauss still makes the finest wine from this grape. The fragrant, complex, opulent, sweet Mavrodaphne Grand Reserve was casked in 1979, and only a small amount is bottled every year. This huge producer also makes a vast range of other styles, sourcing native and international grapes from growers all over Greece.


Gaia Wines - Peloponnese

location: Themistokleous 22, Maroussi
telephone number: 21080 55642
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: red, white
best vintages: 2003, 2001, 2000, 1998, 1997
recommended wines: Gaia Estate

Since erupting onto the scene in 1994, winemakers Yiannis Paraskevopoulos and Leon Karatsalos have been two of the leading lights of the Greek wine export market. Zesty whites from Santorini and a popular range of Nemea reds (fruity Notios and intense Gaia Estate among them) are consistently excellent, bringing out the best in Greece’s indigenous grape varieties. The Ritinitis Nobilis Retsina gives a modern, surprisingly likable twist to this unusual style.


Papantonis Winery - Peloponnese

location: Kanari 48, Argos
telephone number: 27510 23620
website: www.papantonis.gr
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: red, dessert
best vintages: 2003, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1994, 1993
recommended wines: Meden Agan

Brother and sister team Anthony and Kallie Papantonis built this winery in 1993 for their 11-ha (now 30-year-old) vineyard, which became one of Greece’s leading proponents of the Aghiorghitiko grape. Older vintages of their first wine, Meden Agan, are so profoundly complex, yet rich and soft in style, that they sometimes auction for high prices at Christie’s. The dessert wine Lysimelis, first created in 2002, also looks promising.


Tselepos - Peloponnese

location: 14th Klm Tripolis-Kastri NR Rizes, Arcadias
telephone number: 27105 44440
wine styles: red, white
best vintages: 2003, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1990
recommended wines: Mantinia, Moschofilero, Nemea Aghiorghitiko, Cabernet-Merlot

Former burgundy winemaker Yiannis Tselepos is probably best known for his dense, concentrated, blockbuster Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. His wonderful dry, elegant, round, lemon-and-rose-scented Moschofilero whites also help to mark out this producer.


Hatzidakis - The Cyclades Islands

location: Pyrgos Kallistis, Santorini
telephone number: 22860 32466
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: red, white, dessert
best vintages: 2003, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1997
recommended wines: Santorini, Santorini Barrel, Vin Santo

It may be early days, but this young winemaker is one of Greece’s brightest prospects. Assyrtiko, Aidini, and Athiri are Haridimos Hatzidaki’s tools, and steely, minerally, finely-balanced dry whites and fruity, fresh-tasting vin santos are his specialty. He is also pioneering the recovery of long-forgotten red grape Mavrotragano, from which he makes firm, fruit-packed, beautifully scented wines.


Santo Wines - The Cyclades Islands

location: Pirgos, Santorini
telephone number: 22860 22596
website: www.santowines.gr
wine styles: red, white, rosé, dessert, retsina
best vintages: 2003, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1990
recommended wines: Santorini Nykteri, Vin Santo

Since 1947—long before today’s clutch of exciting new winemakers came to Santorini—this large co-op has been making delicately balanced, steely, mineral-lemon flavored, but little-known, Assyrtiko wines. It is still a quality producer, and the sweet, firm, super-rich, spicy dried fruit flavored vin santos are often considered the island’s finest.


CAIR - Rhodes

location: 2nd Klm Rhodes-Lindos
telephone number: 22410 68770
website: www.cair.gr
wine styles: red, white, rosé, sparkling, dessert, retsina
best vintages: 2003, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1997, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1990
recommended wines: Ródos 2400, Archontiko, Rosé Réserve 10 Ans Brut

By far the largest producer on Rhodes, this company refuses to let quantity interfere with quality. Every year, CAIR sets the standard for Rhodes’ aromatic, fruit-driven, succulent Athiri white and sparkling wines. The tobacco-scented, opulently textured Cabernet-Grenache reds and firm-backboned honey-sweet Muscats are excellent.


Metaxa Wine Estate - Cephalonia & the Ionian Islands

location: Mavrata, Cephalonia
telephone number: 26710 81292
wine styles: red, white, rosé
best vintages: 2003, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1997, 1996, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1990
recommended wines: Robola of Cephalonia, Elios, Arethoussa Spring

Yannikostas Metaxa and his English wife Martine have been making delightful wine from Cephalonia’s indigenous grapes since 1992. Their flinty, dry, herbaceously scented Robola of Cephalonia is truly astounding—and the weighty, aromatic, peachy-citrus flavored Zakynthino is, without question, the finest example of this variety in Greece.


Sámos Cooperative - Limnos, Sámos & the Aegean Islands

location: Union of Vinicultural Cooperatives of Sámos, Malagari, Sámos
telephone number: 22730 27381
website: www.samoswine.gr
wine styles: white, dessert
best vintages: 2003, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1990
recommended wines: Sámos: Nectar, Anthemis, Vin Doux Naturel Grand Cru

Wine has been made on Sámos for thousands of years, but, although there are many growers supplying grapes, this is now the only licensed commercial producer on the island. Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains is the only variety used here, and although dry wines are produced, the aromatic, heroically structured, complex, date-fig-raisin flavored dessert wines are the real glory. These can age for a staggering 80 or 90 years.

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