Greek wines are the most common of the East Mediterranean wines you will find in the UK supermarkets and national retailers. Many people I talk to about Greek wines are put off by the unpronounceable grape names or the fact they once had a glass of harsh taverna table wine on a Greek island. Others have never tried Greek wine because it is too expensive to take a punt and somewhere in the back of their mind they have memories of a friend telling them that all Greek wine tastes like paint stripper (they obviously had Retsina).
Of course there are great Greek wines available in the UK and usually paying over £15 a bottle helps, but what about those wanting to get a mid-week wine which is affordable and offers something different. I tasted 4 wines from two large estates; all were under £10 from Oddbins. Before I give the verdict it is worth finding out more about why Greek wine seems to have a bad reputation in some quarters.
The Greeks love wine and so they keep much of it for themselves, including the good stuff. Only around 30% is exported and only a small percentage of that reaches the UK shores. This is certainly increasing. High export costs used to be a part of the problem, but since Greece joined the EU this has opened up doors and provided subsidies.
To get wine on the supermarkets requires the big players and the Greek wine scene is dominated by a small number of very large merchants. This means you usually will only see the wineries entry level wines on the shelves, but you will find hidden gems amongst them. The big wineries have invested heavily over the last decade in technology and aim to improve the quality of the wine at all points in the production process. They know that if they are to be taken seriously by the common wine drinker they need to make a bit of an effort.
The arid, hot conditions found in Greece suit native grape varieties which are little known outside of Greece. With names like Agiorgitiko and Kotsifali it is difficult to know what you are getting despite the best efforts of the marketing people on the back label.
Semeli Feast White 2012, Peloponnese, Greece
There were floral aromas of rose and honeysuckle emanating from this pale white, close your eyes and you were in a typical English garden on a summer’s eve…..[Read more]
Semeli Feast Red 2012, Peloponnese, Greece
The predominant aroma from this medium ruby red was red cherry. The acidity was high and the tannins low consistent with how this wine was made and matured…..[Read more]
Mediterra Xerolithia 2012, Peza, Crete, Greece
A lovely lemon citrus and green apple aroma came from this slightly off-dry white. It had a solid intensity of citrus and gooseberry, with a little pineapple on the strong finish…..[Read more]
Mediterra Mirambelo 2010, Peza, Crete, Greece
The medium ruby red had light aromas of cranberry and cedar. It had a nutty flavour, but lacked fruit. The 13% medium bodied wine had good acidity but the tannins were quite harsh…..[Read more]
The Greek Whites 2 Reds 0. I would recommend trying these whites, I think the offer something slightly different and exciting in aroma and taste sensation. It seems there is still much the consumer needs to do to overcome the damage done by poor quality wines in the past and big mouthed friends who once had a bad bottle by the beach. For the person walking into a shop and selecting a good Greek wine I am afraid it is not easy without prior research and this is where reviews, like this one, are important. Please if you love wine and want to get into Greek wine then look at what you can buy and find out more, or keep reading here!