Monday, November 8, 2010

Crete, the Mediterranean and Me

I'll admit it. My eyes brighten and my ears perk up when I see or hear of another wine that features a not-so-common or an unfamiliar, indigenous grape varietal. After all, I'm in the 70's with my Wine Century Club application. With less than 30 varietals to go, you can't blame a guy for reaching for a bottle that may not be on Vancouver's best wine lists.

Besides, affordability and an easy-drinking wine are characteristics that play a larger part in the drinking habits of most folks anyhow. Complex wines with fine pedigrees and, more likely than not, a correspondingly big price have their place - but for a mid-week soup and sandwich kind of night at home, how can you go wrong with the former?

We've got one here.

636. 2008 Boutari Kretikos (Crete - Greece)

The name Boutari may be synonymous with Greek wine - after all, it does produce around 15 million bottles and exports a great many of those millions to 38 countries (and counting) - but I don't tend to consider drinking a lot of it unless we're out having souvlaki and tzatsiki at one of the Greek restaurants in town.

I think I'll need to re-think that a bit since the Boutari wines available nowadays aren't just the large bottle format white or red. There appears to be much more to the winery than I might have thought and this bottle is one of the new breed available.

One of the most powerful names in Greek winemaking, the Boutari family has been making wine since 1879 and, while their home base has always been in and remains in Naousa in the Northern part of the country, their continued business sense has culminated in the creation of a network of wineries throughout nearly every winemaking region in Greece.

The Kretikos line is based in the country's Southern-most island of Crete and they refer to the wine as a "country wine of Crete" or "Vin-de-pays." Although Greek winemaking (and even Boutari) has seen an inclination to start producing better known international varietals, this wine features grapes that are strictly indigenous to the island and to Greece. A blend of 70% Vilana and other grapes that are likely to raise a collective "huh?" when mentioned - try Thrapsathiri and Athiri - it's meant to be a fresh, simple sipper that matches up well with the island's cuisine.

Boo and I were surprised at how nice the wine actually was. Makes me want to pack my back and head off to the Mediterranean even more than I already did. Adding another varietal to my Century Club list is just an added bonus.

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