The Wines of Greece

One of the big problems for Greek wine is, in my view the Greek alphabet: most of the wines already exported now have labels with the Roman alphabet, but a lot of the smaller producers' wines are still labelled  using the Greek alphabet, including many of those tasted below.  I have transliterated them as best as I am able, but my background is in Classical Greek, not modern Greek, so I may occasionally be a bit off.

A selection of Greek white wines tasted May 2006

Evangelos Tsantalis founded the company which bears his name in 1945, building on a family tradition of winemaking and ouzo-distilling going back to around 1890.  1945 saw the opening of a distillery in Thessaloniki: the winery, in Naousa, was opened in 1970.  In 1991 they took over the Rapsani winery on Mount Olympus, which had until then belonged to the Ministry of Agriculture.

2005 Athiri, Tsantali
This has a fresh, fragrant, floral nose that’s very attractive.  It has a good clean palate, with a nice weight and balance.  Very elegant and floral.  Very Good.  87/100

2005 Ambelonas Agios Paulos, Halkidiki Regional Wine, Tsantali
This is a blend of 80% sauvignon blanc and 20% assyrtiko.  It has a very interesting nose with lots of character: floral and slightly scented.   Lovely palate: mouthfilling and it has a nice savoury note too.  Very Good Indeed.  91/100

2005 Chromitsa, Mount Athos Vineyards, Tsantali
This is a blend of 50% chardonnay and equal parts of assyrtiko and athiri.  It has a buttery, rich nose with some flowers behind.  Very good palate: very smooth, silky and easy. nbsp;Very well balanced.  Very Good Indeed.  90/100


Creta Olympias Winery

2005 Vin de Crete, Creta Olympias Winery
Made from the Vilana grape, which is indigenous to Crete.  It has a fairly fresh simple floral nose.  This is very easy, light, uncomplicated drinking.  Fairly simple, but remarkably pleasing.  I bet it’s lovely under a Cretan sun!  Good/Very Good.  84/100

2005 Meditérra, Cretan Country Wine, Creta Olympias Winery
From the Vilana grape again, vinified on the skins.  The family resemblance to the first wine is evident on the nose, though it’s deeper and fuller.  Very good palate: very clean and fresh.  There’s good depth, and I think the skin contact has really brought out the character of the grape.  Very Good+.  88/100

2005 Xerolithia, Appelation of Origin Peza, Creta Olympia Winery
Once again, this is made from the vilana grape; the name of the wine, Xerolithia, comes from the dry stone walls in the vineyards.<  A good rich nose that’s very attractive.  Much rounder and less distinctive on the palate than the first two vilanas.  It’s round and full, and very drinkable, but it lacks the character of the first two vilanas.  Very Good.  86/100

2004 Creta Nobile VQPRD Peza, Creta Olympias Winery
This is the vilana grape again.  There’s sweet, smoky oak on the nose with some very buttery scents behind.  Rich and nicely mouthfilling with a buttery softness.  Very Good+.  88/100


Domaine Hatzimichalis

2005 Laas, Topikos Oinos Plagion Knemidos, Domaine Hatzimichalis
This is a blend of robola, athiri and assyrtiko.   It has an interesting round nose with some green fruit reminiscent of a sauvignon blanc.   Good palate: it has decent character, flavour and depth.  A good all-rounder.   Good+.  84/100

2005 Veriki, Topikos Oinos Koiladas Atalantes (Regional Wine of Atalanti Valley), Domaine Hatzimichalis
Veriki is the name of the vineyard where the robola and chardonnay (50:50) for this wine, which sees no oak.  The robola vines are 25 years old; the chardonnay vines are 20 years old.  On the nose, it’s quite minerally and gives a well-balanced impression.  Lovely palate: this is rich and open, with clear chardonnay notes, but also a really interesting fruit and floral character, presumably from the robola.  Very Good/Very Good Indeed.  88/100

2004 Chardonnay, Vineyard Veriki, Topikos Oinos Koiladas Atalantes (Regional Wine of Atalanti Valley), Domaine Hatzimichalis
This has a nice sweet, fresh, aromatic nose, and it’s not immediately obvious that it is a chardonnay.  The palate, however, has rich, full chardonnay flavours, with a lovely creamy weight.  Very full on the finish.  This is rather impressive though it’s not as different from an international chardonnay as the nose would suggest.  Very Good.  86/100

2004 Kapnias, Zugos Vineyard, Topikos Oinos Koiladas Atalantes (Regional Wine of Atalanti Valley), Domaine Hatzimichalis
This is the Domaine’s super premium chardonnay, made from vines grown at an altitude of 320 metres and fermented in French oak.   It has, unsurprisingly, a very big, oaky nose.  Rich and full on the attack, this is plush and round on the palate.  Made in a much more international style and the oak is a bit heavy.  Good/Very Good.  85/100

2004 Raxes Galanou, Topikos Oinos Koiladas Atalantes (Regional Wine of Atalanti Valley), Domaine Hatzimichalis
Raxes Galanou is the name of the vineyard which supplies the fruit for this blend of 80% sauvignon blanc and 20% semillon.  A clean, dullish nose.   Round and full on the palate, like a ripe Bordeaux Blanc.   Good, but not especially interesting.  85/100




Roditis and moschofilero are the major white varieties of the southern Peloponnese and typically grow at high altitudes.

2004 Roditis, AOC Patras, Cavino
This has an interesting musky, fragrant nose.  It has a nice body and a fair depth.   Light and fragrant with lots of character.  Very, very dry on the finish.   An interesting wine.  Very Good.  86/100

2004 Aegiochos, AOC Patras, Cavino
This is made from organically grown roditis grapes from vineyards at 700 metres above sea level.  It is fermented and matured for six months in new French oak, 225-litre barrels.  It has an interesting nose: grassy with hints of crushed coffee beans.  A fresh clean attack, which then fills out a bit.  Very clean and fresh throughout, but with an interesting character.  It has fairly high acidity, which keeps it nice and dry, but there’s also a richness behind.  Very Good Indeed.  89/100


Ktima Pavlidis
Ktima Pavlidis is situated in the south west of Drama in northern Greece, in a narrow valley separating the mountains of Falakro and Menikio.   This is a new winery, founded by Christoforos Pavlidis in 1998: their first vintage was in 2001.  The  Estate has vineyards in Kokkinogia and in Perichora.  Yields are kept low and all  work in the vineyard is done by hand.  The winery is situated on the north side of the Kokkinogia vineyard and, as ever, has the latest state of the art equipment.  The fermentation tanks are situated on the ground floor, allowing the wine to be transferred by gravity to barrels in the cellar.

2005 Regional Wine of Drama, Ktima Pavlidis
This wine, which appears to have no name or varietal description on the label, is a blend of sauvignon blanc and assyrtiko.  It has a very full, floral nose.   Full palate, with a real weight and richness.  Very Good.   86/100

2005 Assyrtiko, Regional Wine of Drama, Ktima Pavlidis
Matured on its lees for three months in stainless steel.  It has quite a creamy feel to the nose.  Good palate: full and rich.  Very Good.  87/100

Vasdavanos Wines & Spirits

2005 Erotico, Oinos Epitrapezios, Vasdavanos, 11.5%
100% roditis.  This has a curious nose: rather minerally and a bit muddy.   Very dull and uninteresting on the palate.  OK.  78/100

2004 Klassikos, Topikos Oinos Turnavou, Vasdavanos, 11.5%
This is a blend of roditis and badiki from vineyards in the Tirnavos region.  The nose is bizarrely redolent of custard cream biscuits.  Creamy, and even custardy on the palate.nbsp; But a bit dull.  Good.  81/100

2004 Syllektikon, Oinos Epitrapezios, Vasdavanos, 11.5%
This is a blend of muscat of Hamburg (made as a blanc de noir) and roditis.  This has a dull, lightly fragrant nose.  Fair palate with some muscat character coming through.  But it’s very dull.  Good-ish.  80/100

2005 Erotico, Vasdavanos cask sample
This is the red version of Vasdavanos’ Erotico brand and is made from Muscat of Hamburg.  It has a nice sweet muscat nose.  Clean and fresh on the palate.  But really, it’s dull and uninteresting.  79/100

Dougos Winery
Larissa, Thessaly
Dimitrios Dougos was originally the owner of a vine nursery.  He started making wine as a hobby in 1983, but in the period 1992-1995 he founded his own winery and acquired vineyards.  The company is now managed by Dimitrios’ son, Thanos and his daughter Louisa.  The Winery is situated in the foothills of Mount Olympus in an acre of vineyards.  The main vineyards are in Prosilla in Rapsani, at an altitude of 450-550 metres above sea level.  The vineyards, which are farmed organically, are planted with xinomavro, krassato Rapsanis, stavroto, limniona, roditis, batiki, assyrtiko, chardonnay, merlot, syrah, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and grenache noir.

2005 Dougos Estate, Dougos
70% roditis, 30% assyrtiko, grown on the slopes of Mount Olympus.  It has a fresh musky nose: very floral with quite rich notes.  Soft and gentle on the palate, this is fairly full with decent depth.  A bit hard on the finish, but it’s an interesting wine.  Very Good.  86/100

2003 Meth Ymon Red, Dougos 
This is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc (25%), syrah (25%), merlot (25%), grenache, limniona (10%), and batiki and is aged in French oak.  It has a bright fresh nose with greenish black fruits.  Decent palate: round and open with a nice spicing.  An interesting wine.  Very Good Indeed.  89/100

2003 Methistanes Red, Dougos
This is a blend of xinomavro (50%), krasato and stavroto, aged in French oak.  It has an interesting colour, typically mature looking.  There’s powerful, sweet, cherry and blackberry fruit on the nose.  Very nice palate with some lovely bright juicy fruit, and then some tannins come along and really savage the mouth.  Needs another two to three years to come round.  Potentially 88/100.

Theodorakakos Estate

The vineyard and winery of George Theodorakakos’s family lies in the centre of Laconia on the road between Sparta and Gytheio.  George’s grandfather Nicolas planted the first vines at the start of the 20th Century.  The estate has grown to some 300,000 square metres of vineyards planted predominantly with local varieties: kydonitsa, mavroudi, monemvassia, petrouliano and thrapsa, together with the better known assyrtiko and aghiorgitiko.  Since 1996, the estate has been cultivated organically.

2005 Kydonitsa White, Laconian Regional Wine, Estate Theodorakakos, 12%
Made from a blend of kydonitsa, monemvassia and thrapsa, all local grape varieties, harvested at 8 tonnes per hectare.  9,500 bottles were produced.
It has nice melony fruit on the nose.  The palate is rich and silky smooth with an interesting fruit character.  This is a wine with a very nice character.  Very Good Indeed.  90/100

2005 Lykovouno White, Laconian Regional Wine, Estate Theodorakakos, 12%
4500 bottles were produced of this blend of kydonitsa, assyrtiko and roditis, from vines yielding around 8000kg per hectare.  This is less vivacious on the nose than the Kydonitsa, but it does have a nice depth.  It’s also much more rounded on the palate: it seems a tamer, more domesticated version of the first wine.  Very Good Indeed.  90/100

2004 Mavroudi Red, Laconian Regional Wine, Estate Theodorakakos, 12.5%
Made from the Laconian variety mavroudi, together with some aghiorgitiko.  Matured in new oak and bottle.  It has a fragrant, slightly raisiny nose with some floral notes.  Round and full on the palate, it’s a touch sweet but overall is nicely balanced.  Some tannins are noticeable on the finish.  Very Good(+).  87/100

2004 Lykovouno Red, Laconian Regional Wine, Estate Theodorakakos, 12.5%
This is made from a blend of organically grown mavroudi and aghiorgitiko.  The name of the wine comes from the local mountain, Lykovouno (“wolf mountain”).  It has a hugely fragrant nose.  Lightish, dullish palate with nothing of the promise of the nose.  OK.  79/100

Union of Winemaking Co-operatives of Samos
Samos has produced wine for over three thousand years, and its most recent surge of fame was in the 17th century, when Samos muscats achieved great popularity across Europe.  Samos produces muscat: it is predominantly known for its dessert muscats, but a number of dry whites are also produced, all from the muscat grape.  The Samos muscat clone is small-berried and is grown in the mountainous north of the island in steeply terraced vineyards.

The Union of Winemaking Co-operatives (UWCS) is a compulsory co-operative.  Yiannis Parassiris, Deputy Sales Manager, took me through the Union’s wines.

2005 Ageri, Dry White Regional Wine, Samos, UWCS
A very fragrant delicate muscat nose that’s quite delightful.  Very pure palate; bone dry and very clean.  Very Good Indeed.  89/100

NV Golden Samena, Dry White Table Wine, Samos, UWCS
From the 2005 vintage, but the Samena is intended to be drunk within the year.    It has a deeper, less fragrant nose than the Ageri with a sort of rich buttery edge.  Very fine on the palate.  It’s less overtly muscat and therefore more widely applicable.  This is more of a laid back muscat.  Apparently it has a touch (5g) of residual sugar, but you don’t notice it.  Very Good Indeed.  91/100

NV Dryoussa, Organic Farming, Dry White Table Wine, Samos, UWCS
Yiannis explained that the Greeks don’t really trust organic wines yet – in some media it is confused with GM.  Again, this has a less obvious, richer muscat nose with a hint of sweetness.  Good palate: very well balanced.  There’s a hint of sweetness on the middle, but a drying acidity on the finish counters that.  Very pure and clean.  Very Good Indeed.  91/100

2005 Samos Grand Cru Vin Doux Naturel, Samos, UWCS
Alcohol is added mid way during fermentation.  Very fine, sweet, grapey nose.  A little syrupy feeling on the palate.  Very Good.  87/100

2005 Samos Vin Doux, Vin de Liqueur, Samos, UWCS
Alcohol is added very early in the fermentation process.  It has a very fine grapey nose.  Quite pure flavours, yet also very lush.  Very Good.  88/100

2005 Phyllas, Vin Doux, Organic Farming Grapes, Samos, UWCS
A lovely fresh clean nose.  Quite intense and more concentrated than the previous wine.  Very Good Indeed.  89/100

2002 Samos Nectar, Vin Doux Naturel, Samos, UWCS
This is aged for three years in oak.  It undergoes a natural fermentation from lightly raisined grapes.  It has an oxidised, smoky muscat nose.  On the palate, this is a very complex wine indeed.  Very Good Indeed.  92/100

2000 Samos Anthemis Vin Doux, Vin de Liqueur, Samos, UWCS
This is aged for five years in French oak: the barrels are not kept full, so that some oxidation can take place.  It has a very clean raisiny nose with hints of oxidation and a layer of buttery caramel. 94/100

Estate Biblia Chora

The Biblia Chora estate lies on the slopes of Mt Pangeon near Kavala in northern Greece at a height of around 350 metres above sea level.  The vineyards extend to some 25 hectares, are farmed organically and planted with assyrtiko, aghiorgitiko, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, semillon, syrah, merlot and cabernet sauvignon.

 2005 Areti White, Regional Wine of Pangeon, Estate Biblia Chora
100% assyrtiko.  This has a pleasant, fragrant nose.  Quite rich on the palate, with more than a hint of sweetness.  A little muddy and unfocussed.  Good.  83/100

2005 White, Regional Wine of Pangeon, Estate Biblia Chora
This is a blend of 40% asyrtiko and 60% sauvignon blanc.  It has a very interesting fragrant nose with a smoky, almost fishy note.  Good, fresh, clean attack.  Fairly direct and pure with decent depth on the palate.  Very interesting, complex finish with huge length.  Very Good Indeed.  90/100

2005 Ovilos White, Regional Wine of Pangeon, Estate Biblia Chora
This is an equal blend of asyrtiko and semillon, barrel-fermented.  The nose is rather curious, and I’m not convinced, on the evidence of this wine, that the two varieties take to the oak particularly well on the nose.  But it’s a lovely palate: rich and fragrant at the same time.  Very Good Indeed.  89/100

2005 Chardonnay, Regional Wine of Pangeon, Estate Biblia Chora
100% chardonnay, barrel-fermented and aged.  A full, rich, international oaked chardonnay nose.  Fairly similar on the palate with just a bit of unusual fragrance, especially towards the finish.  This isn’t entirely convincing.  Good.  82/100

2005 Rosé, Regional Wine of Pangeon, Estate Biblia Chora
100% syrah.  This has an amazing colour, with a very young purple rim shading towards a raspberry red core.  A touch dull on the nose with some ripe red fruit.  Nice palate: fairly rich and full.  Very well balanced.  Very Good Indeed.  89/100

Domaine Evharis
The Domaine Evharis is situated on the foothills of the Geranian Mountains in the Megara region, about 40km outside Athens.  There are 40 hectares of vineyards, planted with nine varieties. 

2005 White, Regional Wine of Gerania, Domaine Evharis
This is a blend of 70% assyrtiko and 30% chardonnay.  A dull, musky, fragrant, almost chalky nose.  Rich and very full on the palate.  This is powerful stuff.  Good clean finish with great length.  Very Good.  87/100

2004 Assyrtiko, Regional Wine of Gerania, Domaine Evharis
This is matured briefly in oak.  The nose is quite bracing with some sweet marzipanny fruit.  Round and open on the palate.  Very full and open.  Very good Indeed.  90/100 

Antonopoulos Vineyards
Antonopoulos Vineyards, based near the city of Patras in the north-western Peloponnese, manage a total of 75 hectares of vineyards in the Peloponnese, 23 hectares of which are owned directly, with the remainder being owned and cultivated by associate farmers under long term contracts.  Yields are kept low, typically under nine tonnes per hectare.  They have vineyards in three main areas: in Achaia, roditis, lagorthi, santameriana, asproudes, mavrodaphne, vertzami, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, riesling, merlot, syrah, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet france are grown on a variety of soils, combining sand, clay and limestone.  In Ilia, the soil is sandy, and in Arkadia, where the aromatic moschofilero is planted, the soils are sandy and clay.

2005 Adole Ghis, Antonopoulos Vineyards
This is a blend of 45% lagorthi, 30% asproudes, 15% roditis and 10% chardonnay from vines growing in Ziria in the department of Achaia.  It has a light, gently fragrant nose.  Very clean on the palate: deep and rich briefly on the middle.  Very dry finish.  Very Good Indeed.  91/100

2005 Mantinia, Antonopoulos Vineyards
Mantinia is the appellation for this 100% moschofilero wine, from vines growing on the upper slopes of the Arkadia region at an altitiude of around 650 metres.  Again, this has an attractive fragrant nose, like a gentle cross between sauvignon blanc and muscat.  Good palate with a similar flavour profile to the nose.  But it feels just a touch sweet.  Good.  84/100

2005 Gris de Noir, Regional Wine of Arcadia, Antonopoulos Vineyards
This is a late harvest moschofilero from vineyards at a height of around 700 metres.  It has a very interesting fragrant nose.  Curiously, it’s not as sweet-feeling as the previous wine, but it has notably more concentrated fruit and is rather better balanced.  Good/Very Good.  85/100

2005 Sauvignon Blanc, Regional Wine of Achaia, Antonopoulos Vineyards
A dullish sauvignon blanc nose.  Very nice palate – remarkably, given the poor-ish nose.  Very savoury feeling.  Very dry on the finish.  Very Good Indeed.  89/100

2005 Antonopoulos Collection, Regional Wine of Achaia, Antonopoulos Vineyards
This is a barrel fermented chardonnay, from grapes grown at Pineios in Ilias in the western Peloponnese.  It has a smooth, remarkably delicate nose with some melon fruit.  Very good palate: rich and very pure.  Very good length.  Very Good Indeed.  90/100

2004 Chardonnay, Regional Wine of Achaia, Antonopoulos Vineyards
Again a barrel-fermented chardonnay, this time from grapes grown in Vasiliko in Achaia.  A rich lactic, oaky nose.  Full and very buttery palate.  This is fairly serious, but it’s also fairly international and could be from anywhere.  Very Good.  87/100

Domaine Skouras
Malandreni, Argos

2005 Cuvée Prestige Blanc, Vin de Pays de Peloponnese, Domaine Skouras, 12%
This is an equal blend of roditis and moschofilero, fermented in stainless steel, with only brief skin contact and no malolactic fermentation, before short ageing on its lees.  The nose is sweet and slightly grapey.  Very clean and full on the palate.  It packs a real punch in terms of flavour, though overall it’s fairly simple.  Very Good.  87/100

2005 Moschofilero, , Vin de Pays de Peloponnese, Domaine Skouras, 12%
A gently muscatty, chalky nose.  Fullish palate.  A very interesting wine.  Very Good Indeed.  89/100

Domaine Costa Lazaridi

The Domaine Costa Lazaridi extends over more than 200 hectares in Adriani in Drama in north east Greece.  They have two main brands: Amethystos and Chateau Julia, together with the Methexis brand of tsipouro (grappa).

2005 Amethystos, Regional Dry White Wine of Drama, Domaine Costa Lazaridi
This is a blend of 80% sauvignon blanc, 15% assyrtiko and 5% semillon.  It has a nice, gently fragrant nose and a fair palate, but overall is a bit uninteresting.  Good.  84/100

2005 Chateau Julia Assyrtiko, Regional Wine of Drama, Domaine Costa Lazaridi
100% assyrtiko.  A delicae musky, fragrant nose.  Nice clean palate, though it’s a bit dull: the wine only really shows its character long after.  Very Good.  86/100

2005 Chateau Julia Chardonnay, Regional Wine of Drama, Domaine Costa Lazaridi
A very, very fresh nose with only a hint of chardonnay fruit.  A light, watery palate with an acidic finish.  Poor.  72/100

Domaine Porto Carras
The Domaine Porto Carras was established about forty years ago and is now one of the largest organically cultivated vineyards in Europe.  The vineyards, which cover an area of 4,750,000 square metres, are situated on the slopes of Sithonia, Halkidiki and are planted with a mix of Greek and international varieties.  The Domaine is also home to a plantation of 45,000 olive trees, again cultivated organically.

2005 Malagouzia, Vin de Pays de Sithonia, Domaine Porto Carras, 12%
100% malagouzia.  Fermented in stainless steel under 18°C and matured for six months before release.  It has a really savoury nose.  Full palate, with very interesting flavours.  It has fairly full ripe stone fruit flavours but with lots of acidity.  Very Good Indeed.  89/100

2005 Hellenic Portraits Athiri, Vin de Pays de Sithonia, Domaine Porto Carras, 13%
A very fresh, crisp citrussy nose.  Clean attack: quite crisp.  Fills out very nicely.  Really very dry.  Nice clean finish.  Very Good.  87/100

2005 Hellenic Portraits Assyrtiko, Vin de Pays de Sithonia, Domaine Porto Carras, 13%
A lightly perfumed nose.  Fresh and clean on the  palate with nice interesting flavours.  Rather good.  87/100

2005 Rosé, Vin de Pays de Sithonia, Domaine Porto Carras, 13%
This is a blend of limnio and cabernet sauvignon.  It has a creamy strawberry and blackcurrant nose.  There’s ripe fruit on the palate.  It’s very easy and open, with a touch of acidity on the finish, which jars rather after.  Good.  82/100

2003 Limnio, AOC Côtes de Meliton, Domaine Porto Carras, 13%
This is a blend of Limnio and Cabernet Sauvignon which undergo a 6-8 day maceration.  After alcoholic and malolactic fermentation, the wine is aged in new French oak for a year.  It has that odd mature colour that so many of these Greek reds seem to have.  It has light juicy fruit on the palate and a very clean finish.  Very Good/Very Good Indeed.  88/100

Which is better than their own ill-translated tasting note on their tasting sheet: “Foul and easy mouth with our aggressive tannins.”

2003 Hellenic Portraits Limnio-Cabernet Sauvignon, Vin de Pays de Sithonia, Domaine Porto Carras, 13.5%
A pretty mature colour.  The nose is fairly slight with the cabernet fruit dominant.  Very lively, fragrant, juicy palate.  Smooth, with some spice building on the finish.  An interesting wine.  Very Good/Very Good Indeed.  88/100

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Last updated: 1 August 2007