I have been to Greece only twice, something I regret, it should have been more given my interest in Greek philosophers. First it was a day stop-off at Corfu on a Mediterranean cruise, and second a week of culture based in Athens with day trips to Delphi, Piraeus etc. We stayed in the centre of Athens, in the beating heart of the Plaka adjacent to the Acropolis and known as The Neighbourhood of the Gods, with its bustling markets, restaurants, street stalls and street food. I can honestly say I have never had a better or more authentic kebab than those here! I can’t remember much about wine there though, but I can remember eating octopus, grilled aubergine, roasted lamb, moussaka amongst other things, as well as the most expensive fish lunch we have ever eaten ANYWHERE in the world at Piraeus, and where everything was based on the weight of what you chose. I thought they were being generous with the portions until the bill arrived!
I was reminded of all this from 30 years ago last week when I read an article on The Wine Society website in which their main buyers recommended their favourite “drink at home wines” and Freddy Bulmer recommended a specific Greek red wine with these words:
“My girlfriend and I are both huge fans of this and occasionally open a bottle when we fancy drinking something special but which doesn’t break the bank. Thymiopoulos is a winemaker who now has a cult following and each of his wines made from the indigenous Greek xinomavro grape punch well above their weight. Stylistically somewhere between Burgundy and Barolo, this one is delicious, fresh, bright and bursting with energy and perfume. Proper stuff ! Drink now to drinking wines 2023. 13%”Freddy Bulmer, Buyer, The Wine Society
So I bought one, a new grape to consolidate my membership of the Wine Century Club ….. I think that Xinomavro is grape #105, but I’m past counting now. Of course I bought it because the recommendation from Freddy Bulmer had the word “burgundy” in his notes and I’m just a sucker for anything vaguely connected. Apparently the word xinomavro translates roughly as meaning “sour black” and I could see where this came from as I took my first sip of this wine and sucked in some air with it swirling it around my mouth.
High acidity for sure, but plenty of fruit and soft tannins suggesting it will age well for a couple of years. I’m well aware of how wines can considerably alter their taste characteristics on decanting, breathing, and slight chilling, so I left it for a few hours before pouring again into a chilled glass to reduce the temperature somewhat. Now I could see what everyone meant, something between a Pinot Noir and a Nebbiolo sprang to mind as the sun went down and so did the rest of the bottle. Note to self: Buy more!