Sunday, February 8, 2015

Greek Treat

We don't typically drink much in the way of Greek wines in our home. I think I've previously noted that most of the Greek wine we drink is by the litre or the carafe while scarfing back calamari or souvlaki at a local Greek taverna. Boo and I, however, are seriously looking at travelling to Greece this fall. So, I'm trying to find a few, higher end Greek wines to whet the palate.

I grabbed this bottle from one of the local specialty wine merchants (as opposed to the larger government-run stores) to pair with a travel guide book as a Christmas gift for Boo. It turned out to be quite the Greek treat.

1856.  2011 Alpha Estate Axia - Malagouzia (Greece)

Now, I wouldn't know a prototypical Malagouzia wine from one that simply stuck that label on any one of a dozen white juices, but Jancis Robinson et al, in their tome, Wine Grapes, advise that Malagouzia characteristically produces "full bodied, aromatic wines," exhibiting a big mouthfeel and bouquet - but lower acidity - when the grapes are grown in hotter sites. The wines can exhibit more acidity when sourced from cooler, higher elevations but those wines "can be thinner and less impressive." Thin and not-so-impressive being catchwords for most of my previous experiences with white, Greek wines.

 I like how the winery's website says that this Malagouzia is "fat but balanced." I think that's a pretty apt description of the wine.

Wine Grapes also says that the grape was "recently rescued from oblivion" and one of my favourite sources of more unfamiliar grapes (before he retired from his blog), Rob Tebeau of Fringe Wine, wrote a nice, little piece that talks a bit of how the grape was brought back from obscurity to become "one of the most important white grapes grown in Greece."

Not being that familiar with Greek wines, I'd never heard of the winery. Most of the Greek wines I run into are Boutari, Domestica or Tsantali. Alpha Estate was founded in 1997 and is found in the northwest part of Greece in the Florina region of Macedonia. An indication of the winery's modernity is that, in addition to traditional Greek grapes, the estate's vineyard grows such international varieties as Sauv Blanc, Gewurtztraminer, Pinot Noir, Montepulciano, Tannat, Merlot and Syrah.

We haven't done one iota of planning for this Greek Odyssey of our's; so, I have no idea if we'd make it anywhere near Alpha Estate during our travels, but I do know that I want to take in some wineries and find a whole lot of wines as tasty as this one was.

Even if we don't make our way to Alpha Estate or run into any of their wines, I'm already benefiting from their wines. I've yet to add Malagouzia to my Wine Century Club tally. So, this bottle gets me #176 on that list. Now that I've got less than another 150 bottles before I hit 2001 on The List, I'm hoping to pull in that last two dozen wines to hit 200 varieties before I get to take a bit of rest. I might need to find some more Greek wines before we actually hit the islands.

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