I attended the media session just after lunch, and the place was quite busy. However, since I was still working my around the room, I ended up staying for the consumer portion of the tasting that began at 2 p.m. As people filed in, the atmosphere in the room went up a few notches with a live band performing traditional Greek music. The light appetizer service prepared by Daniel et Daniel also livened the place up, in addition to the many delightful Greek wines.
Overall, I was quite impressed with the Greek wines (not unexpected, I've been a fan for many years), but was surprised by the sheer number of quality wines produced by the Greeks, one of the oldest wine regions in the world. It's too bad we don't see more Greek wines coming through the LCBO (including VINTAGES) as there are a lot of good value wines that I believe LCBO customers would enjoy.
The names of many of the local Greek grape varietals may be difficult to pronounce, but it's what's inside the bottle that counts. My favourites Greek varietals are still Xinomavro [Ksee-no'-ma-vro], Assyrtiko [A-seer'-tee-ko], and Agioritiko [Ah-yor-yee'-ti-ko]. However, one grape I discovered at this tasting is a very floral, aromatic white wine grape called Savatiano [Sa-va-tya-no'].
A step in the right direction is headed by the LCBO with their "Products of the World" specialty boutique program within existing LCBO locations where customers can find many wines and spirits from a specific region. In May 2015, "Destination Greece" was the first of such boutiques to launch and is located at 200 Danforth Avenue. At this location, you can find nearly 100 Greek wines and spirits, more than anywhere else in Ontario. Quite a few of the wines tasted at Taste of Greece are available at the LCBO location on Danforth.
Here are some of my favourites from the Greek tasting, many which of you should be able to find at the LCBO outlet on Danforth. Alternatively, you can also contact the Agent for if you're interested in purchasing a case or more.
Ahead of the big event on Sunday, I was invited to a private tasting of Greek wines at the Vintage Conservatory on night and had the pleasure of meeting some of the men (and women) behind some very fine Greek wines. Among those in attendance was Dr. Yannis Voyiatzis, Oenologist, Head of Oenology and Viticulture Department and the winemaker behind the Boutari 1879 Legacy wine. In talking about this wine, Dr. Voyiatzis mentioned that the estate has wines from the 60's and 70's vintage and are still drinking well.
|Photo Credit: Zis Parras, Kolonaki Group|
Sunday Tasting Notes:PAPAGIANNAKOS SAVATIANO OLD VINES 2015 - PGI Markopoulo, Greece (XD) - $15.60
From 60-year-old vines of the indigenous varietal Savatiano, this has explosive aromas in the glass that are very floral in nature, with hints of pear, anise, lees, and ripe fruits. It's light-to-mid weighted with citrus and floral flavours with a streak of mineral. It's very fresh and finishes off with a long, citrusy note. Contact Majestic Wine Cellars for availability. Score: 90 pts
ALPHA ESTATE RED 2012 - PGI Florina, Greece (#092361) (XD) - $32
This Syrah/Xinomavro/Merlot blend (60/20/20), some of which is old vines has a lovely nose of purple fruits, flowers, sweet spices and black pepper. The medium-firm tannins are nicely integrated on the full bodied palate. Nice aroma replays on the flavour profile. It has very good acidity and finishes long. Contact Eurovintage Wines & Spirits for availability. Score: 91 pts
DOMAINE GLINAVOS DRYADES 2007 - PGI Hepirus, Greece (XD) - $22
A blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon and 55% Vlachiko/Bekari from 30-year-old vines that has a medium-high intensity nose consisting of floral, blackberry and hints of graphite and iron. Refined with integrated tannins and complex aroma replays, it also has juicy acids and a long, smooth finish. Contact IntraVino for availability. Score: 90 pts
PAPAIOANNOU MICROCLIMA 2005 - PDO Nemea, Greece (XD) - $75
Made with Agiorgitiko, this has a lovely mature nose of flowers, sweet spices and clove. The medium-full bodied offers pleasing aroma replays, with refined tannins and balanced acidity. Excellent length on the finish. Still has quite a few years of life remaining. Contact Kolonaki Group for availability. Score: 91 pts
ARGYROS SANTORINI ASSYRTIKO 2015 - PDO Santorini, Greece (#387365) (XD) - $22.95 From 60-120 year old vines, this is a mineral-driven wine with lime and stone aromas. The medium+ bodied palate offers more mineral and lime flavours joined by some saline notes. Tightly wound with vibrant acids and chalky texture. Long finishing. Let this one sit for a couple of years and enjoy until 2026. Available in VINTAGES. Score: 90 pts
ARGYROS VINSANTO 4 YEARS 2008 - PDO Santorini, Greece (#189778) (S) (500 mL) - $44.95
Matured in barrel for 4 years. Gorgeous, highly aromatic and sweet nose of caramel, peach and honey notes that follow through on the full-bodied, chalky textured palate. It has bright acids to keep things fresh and keep the very sweet wine from being cloying. Well-balanced and finishing long. Blend of Assyrtiko, Aidani and Athiri. Available at Destination Greece LCBO location. Score: 92 pts
Friday Tasting Notes:BOUTARI 1879 LEGACY 2007 - PDO Naoussa, Greece (#675081) (XD) - $50
This single vineyard wine is 100% Xinomavro and has medium-to-high intensity aromas that are elegant and refined with pleasing notes of cherry, floral, brambly and some barnyard. Very nice aroma replays on the palate with some sweet spice notes emerging with air. It is a full-bodied, powerful wine with a rich structure and dense tannins that can age easily 10-15 years. Excellent length on the finish. Drink or hold. Available via ShopGreekWine.com. Score: 91 pts
CAVINO DOMAIN MEGA SPILEO GRAND CAVE RED 2009 - PGI Achaia, Peloponnese, Greece (XD) - $30
Lovely, complex nose of dried herbs, flowers, black cherry, blackberry and oak vanilla that is medium-to-high intensity. Aroma replays echo on the medium bodied palate. It is well-balanced with very good acidity and the finish length is excellent. With medium-to-firm tannins, this can be enjoyed now or over the next 5-6 years. Blend of 60% Mavrodafne and 40% Mavro Kalavritino. Slated to be in VINTAGES later this year. Score: 90 pts