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Resplendent red wine from Greece

Tasters: Dave Pohl, ed., Dana Malley, Kelley O’Neill, Christopher Coronel, Jason Wentworth

As a complement to a recent tasting of Greek white wines, the staff at Northside Wine and Spirits blind tasted a selection of 21 red wines from Greece. While the white wines were interesting and distinctive overall, the reds proved to be quite a mixed bag. Only four were judged above average; several of the wines were flawed or showed signs of premature oxidation, perhaps due to excessively long aging in barrel before being bottled.

The good news, however, is that the top few wines were interesting and full of character. The staff’s first place wine, by a long shot, was the Moraitis 2004 Paros Reserve, priced at $16 per bottle. Founded in 1910, Moraitis is the only privately owned winery on the heavily touristed island of Paros, which is located to the southwest of Samos and to the north of Santorini. Moraitis produces 45,000 cases of wine each year from their own and purchased grapes.

This 2004 Reserve is a blend of 70% Mandilaria, a red grape, and 30% Monemvasia, a white variety. Mandilaria on its own produces wines that are extremely dark and tannic, so it is frequently softened with white varieties such as Monemvasia. This practice is quite similar to the habit of adding small amounts of Viognier to Syrah in the production of Côte Rôtie in France’s northern Rhône Valley.

The resulting wine, in this case, is deeply colored and velvety in texture. Its black currant aroma and flavor may remind some of Cabernet Sauvignon. Notes of anise and vanilla add complexity to this full bodied wine’s long finish. Its excellent balance and abundant fine tannins indicate some potential for cellaring. This fine wine was awarded a gold medal at the 2009 Concours International du Vin, a competition held in Thessaloniki, Greece. Try it with moussaka and other lamb dishes, roast beef, grilled meats, or hearty vegetarian dishes such as lentil stews, stuffed eggplant, or ratatouille.

If you would like the full tasting list along with the rankings, please email us your name, phone number, city, and zip code to

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