Greek Wines with Steve Kriaris of the Kolonaki Group

November 10, 2011

Reported by Rod Story

Steve Kriaris, with the help of Evan Saviolidis, led a tasting of 12 Greek wines from his portfolio. The wines were divided into three flights of six whites, five reds and a dessert wine along with a small side plate of Greek appetizers from Mystiko Restaurant. The evening started off with a slide presentation introducing us to the grapes and the regions of the wines that we were going to taste. The overall impression of the audience after the tasting was that Greek wines offered considerable value with the wines consistently being valued at higher than their actual price. All the wines can be ordered from Steve at Two are on the General List and another four are coming out in the Vintages February 4, 2012 release.
The first flight of white wines was a study in contrasting styles. The first two wine were from the Moschofilero grape, and although white, it has a red skin similar to that of Pinot Gris. It produces wines with distinct floral notes. The first wine tasted more like a $14 Vintages wine rather than a $12 General List.

It had floral notes with light honey sweetness on the nose though it was very dry with a mouth watering long finish. At only 11.5% alcohol, it would make for a very nice patio wine. The second wine was a much more concentrated Moschofilero with a distinct peach colour from the red skins. It had a rounder, fuller mouth feel. Its floral flavour came out very well with food. The third and sixth wines were both Sauvignon Blanc/Assyrtiko blends. Wine number three is good value at only $9.95 considering most of the audience pegged it at $13 or higher. It tasted of grapefruit with herbaceous notes with a floral sweetness on the nose. Jumping ahead to the sixth wine, it was much more concentrated with the Sauvignon Blanc dominating and the Assyrtiko adding complexity. This wine was released in Vintages over the summer. The fourth wine was 100% Vilana which is another indigenous Greek varietal. It was the least acidic of the six whites with a bit of a candied nose, medium- bodied though soft and delicate and round on the palate. It tasted more like a $20 wine than its $16 price tag. Definitely try it if you get the chance. Wine number five was 100% Assyrtiko from the volcanic island of Santorini. Its terroir gave it a distinct acidic nose. It had a huge mouth-feel with concentrated tree fruit and acid to balance. Think of white peaches on steroids. Pick up a bottle when it comes out in February.

The second flight consisted of five reds. The first wine was a very pleasant under $10 red. It had some green bell pepper as well as white pepper on the nose with dried sour cherry on the palate. The second wine was another general list value. It had a green pepper and cherry nose with cherry and spice on the palate. Very enjoyable for the price. The third red was arguably the best value of the evening. It had a fading brick coloured rim with cedar and leather on the nose. It had great balance with a long finish reminiscent of aged Bordeaux. Buy several when it comes out in February. The fourth red, though from the same vintage and grape, was almost the complete opposite with regards to its age characteristics. It was opaque in colour with a nose of dark plums. On the palate in had big tannins and dried fruit and leather to match. A big wine that needs at least seven years before it mellows but will be worth the wait. The fifth and final red of the evening was this reviewer’s favourite wine. It was a huge wine with amazing fruit concentration, depth, complexity and balance. The length of its finish went on and on. Though extremely young, it was still very enjoyable, though it won’t reach its full potential for another 10 years. It was worth at least twice its price.

The third flight consisted of the one dessert wine—Muscat of Limnos, which always provides terrific value for money. A full bottle of dessert wine for only $13.50. It has a nose of peach and orange peel that comes through on the palate with a sweetness that is balanced by the acidity. Always a crowd pleaser. Its price is so reasonable since it is made by adding neutral alcohol to the Muscat grape juice.

Flight 1: Whites

  • 2010 Boutari Moschofilero, Mantinia, $11.95, General List 172387
  • 2010 Antonopoulos Moschofilero, Mantinia, $17.95, Available February, 2012
  • 2010 Thalia White, Sauvignon Blanc/Assyrtiko, Crete, $9.95
  • 2010 Mediterra Xerolithis, 100% Vilana, Crete, $15.95
  • 2010 Sigalas Santorini, 100% Assyrtiko, Santorini, $24.95, Vintages February 4, 2012
  • 2010 Thema Pavlidis, Sauvignon Blanc/Assyrtiko PGI Drama, $19.95

Flight 2: Reds

  • 2009 Thalia Red, Syrah/Kotsifali, Crete, $9.95
  • 2008 Boutari Agiorgitiko, Nemea, $10.95, General List 172148
  • 2006 Estate Papaioannou Nemea, Nemea, $21.95, Vintages February 4, 2012, $19.95
  • 2007 Kir Yianni Ramnista, 100% Xinomavro, Naoussa, $21.50, Vintages February 4, 2012, $19.95
  • 2007 Kir Yianni Diaporos, 90% Xinomavro/10% Syrah, D’Imathia, $50.00