Friday, April 5, 2013

A Greek Sisteris You Say?

Greece may have been in the news for all sorts of economic woes and political upheavals, but it's also appears to be making a concentrated push to bring more and more "New Wines of Greece" into the world market. This is certainly a new one for me - and, as such, I've got another grape to add to my Wine Century Club tally.

1280.  2010 Parparoussis - Les Dons de Dionysos - Sideritis (Greece) 

The name of the wine translates as "The Gift of Dionysos."

There wasn't a whole lot to be learned about the winery from their website as the pages are as basic as they come, stating that "this website is currently being developed." It does state, however, that the winery was established in 1974 at the Parparoussis family estate outside of Patras on the Peloponnese coast. Proprietor, Thanasis Parparoussis, is Burgundy trained and returned to Greece to take a lead role in a new wave of Greek boutique winemakers. He has been joined by his two daughters who now work by his side at the winery.

Luckily, there is more to be found online about Mr. Parparoussis, including the fact that, when he returned to Greece, he didn't shepherd the introduction of international grapes like Cab or Merlot (as many other Greek winemakers were doing in the 1980's). Rather, he looked deep to his roots and decided to work with mostly "off-the-beaten-track choices" like Roditis, Nemea Agiorgitiko and Mavrodaphne.

Parparoussis also chose to work with Sideritis, a grape that is thought to be indigenous to central Greece, but one that remains largely unknown and definitely "off-the-beaten-track."

I suspect this is a wine that's likely better when drunk while young. Deeper in colour and richer that I'd normally expect for a Greek white wine, our bottle wasn't quite as bright on the palate as most commentators on Sideritis seem to lead you to expect. I figured going Greek with shrimp and feta would be a no-brainer and the wine certainly passed the test but it didn't stand out such that it made me cry out for another bottle.

The grape is named after the Greek word for iron, sidero, but there are varying reasons behind the name. In her book, "Wine Grapes," Jancis Robinson says it is because of the grape's rough skin. Others, like Greek Wine World, say it is because of the grape's tendency to be high in minerality and acidity. Jancis also points out, though, that Parparoussis is "leading the way" with Sideritis in Patras, making approximately a quarter of the entire region's production of the grape.

Interestingly, Parparoussis also distills its Sideritis wine and then ages it in oak for 12 years to be sold as an eau de vie.

I might be more inclined to try the eau de vie before rushing off to buy another bottle of the table wine. This bottle clocked in around $30 where I found it in the Vancouver market and that's a touch rich for my tastes when talking basic white table wines. As you might guess, I can bend that rule a bit for a roll of the dice on a new varietal wine though. That ship has sailed with the Sideritis though.

On a final note though, with my last three post's including the addition of the Tinta Miúda and Cabernet Foch grapes as #150 and #151 to my Wine Century total, this Sisteris makes it three new grapes in a week. Who knows, 200 varieties may still be in the offing.

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