A Delightful Diversion in Greek Wines
Chatzivaritis 2012 Eurynome 13.5% $27
This cherry-colored Goumenissa red with a brick-tinged rim is 70% Xinomavro and 30% Negoska. Aged entirely in new, 225 L oak barrels (85% French and 15% American) for 12 months then six months in the bottle before release, this wine smells of smashed mulberries, baked cherries and freshly turned earth. It’s tremendously delicious with varied savory notes of fallen leaves, minerals and old cinnamon stick. Surprisingly, the tannins are caressingly soft while the acidity of this medium-plus body wine dances around the palate. The lingering finish offers layers of nuanced grace. What lovely balance!
Chatzivaritis 2013 Eurynome 15% $27
Bright auburn in color, this delicately aromatic wine has more gusto on the palate than its nose suggests. Crisp acidity and crunchy tannins back its full body. The generous layers on the palate include mulberries, blueberries, fallen autumn leaves and cigar smoke. Composed of organically-grown, 70% Xinomavro and 30% Negoska, this wine has dynamic flavors and lots of fruit vigor. Drinking well now, its medium finish suggests it has at least a mid-term horizon ahead. I would never guess its high alcohol thanks to its superb integration with the lifted structure.
Chatzivaritis 2015 Rhoditis Eurynome 13.5% $21
Rhoditis means rose, and this variety absolutely brings tremendous fragrance into the glass. The bottling also has a cleverly disguised, 21% of the “acid black” variety Xinomavro made in a blanc de blancs fashion. The palate is full of honeydew and Canary melons with whispers of gingerbread. The mouthfeel is caressing and gentle with easy-going, integrated acidity, well-balanced alcohol and a notably lingering finish. This is a white that fits just about any occasion.
Drink: Through 2017
Chatzivaritis 2015 Sauvignon Blanc / Assyrtiko Staphylus 13.5% $21
Pale straw in color and composed of the same proportions of the same varieties as the Oenogenesis blend, that’s about the only commonality the two wines share. Rather than screeching acidity, this is mouthwatering yet integrated with plump juiciness focusing and rounding-out the mid-palate. Its nose is reserved, favoring non-fruit aromas of wheat flour, lager beer and pine nuts. The palate is similarly gentle in its fruit approach, focused on delicate honeydew melon, lemon pith, bay leaf and green tea. Though it isn’t super complex (as seen in its rather moderate finish), this is very user-friendly with or without food today, and chances are you’ll get to the bottom of the bottle faster than you’d expect.
Drink: Through early 2018
Oenogenesis 2014 Sauvignon Blanc / Assyrtiko En Oeno 12.5% $23
No need for the dentist - or even the toothbrush - here. This wine’s blistering acidity will do a professional-strength, super-hygenic cleanse on your teeth! While the acidity is a bit over-bearing for such a light-bodied wine, the delicate yet concentrated flavors will keep you sipping, especially when enjoyed at the table. Bursting with lemon peel, white grapefruit and soft-stemmed fresh herbs, this is a refreshing and formidable grape duo.
Drink: Though 2017
Oenogenesis 2009 Oenosophist 12.5% $30
This is an exotic white blend from Drama composed of 55% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Ugni Blanc and 15% Sémillon. With my two bottles, I saw some bottle variation with one being fresher than the other. Hence, this review is for the more dynamic of the pair. Dark yellow-gold and copper in color, its attack tastes of apple cider laced with cardamom and cinnamon. Round on the palate with highly integrated acidity, the mouthfeel is caressing and medium-bodied. Hovering on the cusp of balance, it teeters on having a lenient and overly indulgent palate feel. The core is supple, even without any primary fruit left. Tasting of applesauce, cider, toasted multi-grain bread crust and Brazil nut, it’s a good thing you’ll be tempted to drain every drop. It doesn’t keep well for the following day. Hitting its drinking prime, it might hold a while but likely won’t improve further.
Drink: Through 2017
Oenogenesis 2014 Thyrsus 12.5% $23
Verging on medium in body, this blend of 60% Malagousia and 40% Viognier hailing from Drama has a pithy lemon character and lots of tangerine sass. It’s lifted but not pungent in acidity and has a pleasant, mouth-caressing texture. The finish is medium and nuanced with hints of smoke and ash. It’s a compelling wine that has the generous texture of a wine made to drink as an apperitif while also carrying the nuance of a wine that has complexity suitable to the table. Only 651 cases were made.
Bairaktaris Winery 2015 Monolithos Rosé 13% $17
This highly unusual combination of 80% Agiorgitiko (a black grape) and 20% Assyrtiko (a white grape) grown at high altitude (2,625 feet) in the Argolida Mountains of Nemea comes across as more of a red wine than a rosé. I like boldly colored and flavored styles of rosé. When not served too chilled, they are the perfect solution to the “Red or White?” debate at the table. Smelling of Rainier cherries and sweet strawberries, this tastes like summer. The lightly dusty tannins and mouthwatering acidity make this a food wine rather than a poolside sipper.
Drink: Through 2017
Bairaktaris Winery 2015 Monolithos White 12.9% $17.50
Monolithos means Monolith, referring to a huge chunk of rock that sits in this vineyard on Corinth Mountain in the Peloponnese. This is a highly unusual yet compelling blend in that it represents a little bit of each of its component varieties of Muscat of Alexandria, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay – each used in equal proportions. Its structure is proper and correct with moderate alcohol, medium body and somewhat lively acidity that combine for a refreshing mouthfeel. However, the result is a bit disjointed aroma- and flavor-wise. It smells of Thompson Seedless grapes, white peaches and pink grapefruit peels. That’s all nice enough, but everything is so noticeable the wine just doesn’t jive. It’s perfectly lovely for a well-chilled patio drink in the summer heat, but it’s neither complex nor moreish, thanks – among other things – to its exceedingly dry finish.
Drink: Through 2017