Greece: A country of vast vinicultural diversity

August 8, 2019 BY

When you think of Greek wine, your first and possibly only thought probably travels to Retsina; the white wine fermented in casks sealed by pine resin.

Its evolution resulted in many people’s experience being a poor-quality wine with pine resin used to mask the deficiencies and faults in the wine.

Unfortunately, it also masked a whole country of vast vinicultural diversity. Greece boasts over 300 indigenous grape varieties spread across nine major regions and over 100 protected growing areas.

Grape varieties

The diversity makes for a daunting task at first, but it is dwarfed by Italy for example, and yet step by step we are becoming more familiar with Italy, its regions and grape varieties.

Greece can equally be simplified to begin with, with some of its main grape varieties. Agiorgitiko is a red grape which can be likened to Sangiovese; moderate to high in both acidity and tannin with red fruits, spice and oak flavours dominating.

Quite like Sangiovese it is versatile, it can be used to make Rose, light early drinking reds right through to bold structured suitable for cellar.

Regions

Agiorgitiko finds its home in the Peloponnese area of Nemea, one of the 34 PDOs (the most stringent regional classification, similar to the DOCG of Italy of which Chianti Classico would be an example).

The variety of styles that Agiorgitiko produces is in part due to the variation in the region. At the lower altitudes around 250m, conditions are too warm to retain sufficient acidity thus these vineayrds often end up in sweeter styles.

As we move higher up to the highest vineyards around 900m are at times too cool but can be excellent sources for Rosé, whilst the sweet spot in the middle around 450 – 700m is where the best red wines are sourced.

Review

Gaia have vineyards in Nemea and on the Island of Santorini. While they were established and built their reputation on the white Assyrtiko from Santorini, they have since built an equally formidable reputation focusing on Agiorgitiko in Nemema.

Sourced from the higher elevations of Nemea with relatively short time in contact with the grape skins, their Rose is of pale, yet virbant colour with delicate red berry fruits and florals.

Subtle salinity and bone dry to drink with lovely texture and light to medium body.