Assyrtiko is one of the most under-rated grapes in the world, especially when it’s grown on the volcanic soils of the island of Santorini. Bone dry, minerally and deliciously austere, this example from Gaia shows the variety at its delicious best with notes of quinine and lemon zest and incredible extract and concentration. A total bargain at £14.95.
Oddbins pioneered Greeek wines in the UK and continues to do a great job of promoting its individual, invariably good value wines. Try this pale, complex Xynomavro, which tastes like a cross between a red Burgundy and a Barolo. The tannins need food to show at their best.
This is no ordinary, drink-it-on-holiday Retsina. It’s biodynamic, fermented in amphorae with wild yeasts and highly unusual. The pine resin notes are restrained and enjoyable, adding a Mediterranean herb like dimension to the pear, beeswax and honey fruit. The wines finishes tangy and dry.
It’s not the easiest grape in the world to love (those tannins can be a little firm, like a Greek version of the Portuguese Baga grape) but Agiorgitiko is that country’s best variety. This is a very fruity example, but it’s still got backbone and acidity behind the chalky red cherry and pomegranate flavours. Make sure you eat this with robust food or cheese.
Greek white varieties deserve to be better appreciated, partly because theu retain acidity and pefume in a warm climate. This is a case in point: aromatic, lime-scented and surprisingly light, with good, sappy acidity and undertones of summer flowers.
Xinomvaro can be pretty toothsome stuff, even when the vines are young. But this combines the Nebbiolo-like tannnins and dryness with some sweet, supple red fruits. The overall effect is vey tasty indeed, with hints of rose petal, raspberry and wild strawberry set against a background of savoury, spicy tannins. Delicious at the price.
if you’re flirting with Greek wines but haven’t consumated the relationship yet, this is the place to start. Sourced from the volcanic island of Santorini, it’s rich, spicy, yet unoaked, with plenty of weight, notes of pear and fresh hay and a thrilling backbone of stony acidity. Like a cross between a Chablis and a Rhône blend, but with a herbal, Mediterranean twist that is all its own.
It’s a pleasure to be recommending a bottle from Oddbins as my wine of the week once more! And what better way to start than something from Greece, long an Oddbins speciality? This is a musky, perfumed, dry white with hints of pear and rosepetal, crunchy acidity and a tangy, seafoood-friendly finish. A great introdcution to an indigenous grape variety.
Harry Hatzidakis makes some of the best whites on the volcanic holiday island of Santorini from the wonderful Assyrtiko grape. This is typically fresh and tangy, with a salty undertone, stony minerality and bright, lip-smacking acidity. The wine is shwowing really well right now after two years’ bottle age.
The Kidonitsa grape may be new to you (you’re not alone there), but don’t worry about that because it’s a great drink. Spritzy and slightly honeyed, with the texture of a Pinot Gris but an extra dimension of flavour. A touch of straw, some ginger spice, a whisper of thyme. You can almost smell the Med.