A virtual visit to the Peloponnesus
I had sincerely hoped to be able to resume my regular schedule of monthly wine tastings in September, but the coronavirus had other plans... So instead of face-to-face wine tastings I thought I'd offer a short, virtual visit to the Peloponnesus, where I visited five wineries in August. I've been drinking and selling wines from the peninsula for a couple of years, but had not yet had the pleasure of visiting any of the wineries.
First, the Peloponnesus is big, about as big as Belgium, so it's actually several wine growing regions rather than just one. The two main areas are Nemea--home to the amazingly versatile Agiorgitiko grape--and Mantineia.
Second, although it's as far south as Sardinia and Madrid, the peninsula's high hills create a wide variety of growing conditions a few hundred meters above sea level so the days are not quite as hot as at the seaside and the nights cool off nicely.
Third, the Peloponnesus is blessed with amazing, fertile soil, a combination of well-drained chalk and clay and sand and rock that's dominated by the same sort of chalky white soil you might see in Champagne. Together, the latitude, altitude, soil and steady, guaranteed sun make almost perfect conditions for good, complex wines. Combine that further with a generation of winemakers trained in Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne (and many of whom speak good French) and you would rightly expect that the region produces some amazing wines.
The Peloponnesus is really a tale of two grape varieties, Agiorgitiko and Moscofilero. Agiorgitiko--which means "St. George's"--is the dark red grape that is native to Nemea and is like Sangiovese to Tuscany or Pinot Noir to Burgundy. It is sometimes blended with other grapes but certainly doesn't need to be because it's rich enough to stand on its own, with aromas dominated by dark cherries, dried fruit and in older wines also chocolate, liquorice and tobacco. Among the region's best known producers are Papaioannou, Skouras, Gaia, Gofas, Aivalis and Palivou.
Moscofilero is the pinkish-green grape variety that has its home in Mantineia, a bit further inland and higher up, and is known for amazingly floral aromas. My favorite producer is Tslepos.
The region also produces some original, memorable wines from other varieties, including the biodynamic Retsina that Tetramythos produces from Roditis grapes and ages in clay amphorae as well as a a full spectrum of Syrahs, Cabernet Sauvignons, Chardonnays and other international grape varieties.
If you'd like to try any of these out, here are some of my favorite Peloponnesus wines made from local Greek varieties--perfect to help you weather the Second Wave:
My new Peloponnesus Wines Discovery Box includes 6 of the wines above for 65 euros (including VAT).
- Tselepos - Amalia Brut - Moscofilero grapes - méthode traditionnelle dry sparkling wine
- Tetramythos - Retsina amphorae - Roditis grapes - biodynamic
- Skouras - Moscofilero
- Gaia - 14-18h - a great rosé from Agiorgitiko grapes
- Papaioannou - Nemea - Agiorgitiko grapes - biodynamic
- Skouras - St. George - Agiorgitiko grapes
- Skouras - Fleva - Syrah grapes
- Gofas - Nemea - Agiorgitiko grapes
My Bestsellers Box also includes five of the wines above, along with Alpha Estate's Malagouzia from Macedonia.
All of the wines are also available individually in my web shop at reasonable prices! For large orders please feel free to write to me directly.
I hope to be able to see you at a wine tasting again soon - whether it's virtual or in my garden!