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Recommended reds from Greece

Northside Staff
Tasters: Dave Pohl, ed., Kelley O’Neill, and Jason Wentworth

Although wine has been produced in Greece since the 7th century B.C., many wine enthusiasts are unfamiliar with any Greek wine other than the resinated wine known as retsina. This is unfortunate, as Greece is home to a multitude of red and white wines, many of which are made from distinctive native grape varieties. While it is widely held that Greek white wines are generally of a higher standard than the reds, the latter have made great strides in recent years.

The staff at Northside Wine & Spirits recently blind tasted a selection of 14 dry Greek red wines priced $25 or less. No fewer than 10 grape varieties were represented, and some of the wines blended “international” varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah with Greek varieties such as Agiorgitiko (ah-yor-yee-tee-koe) and Kotsifali (koe-tsi-fah-lee).

The staff’s top pick was the Katogi Averoff 2008 Red, a blend of Agiorgitiko (30%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (70%). The firm Katogi & Strofilia, a merger of two of Greece’s top modern wineries Katogi Averoff and Strofilia, produces the wine, which costs $18 per bottle. Katogi Averoff, founded in the late 1950s, was the first Greek winery to plant Cabernet Sauvignon. In the staff’s first place wine, Cabernet lends structure to the flavorful, but low-acid Agiorgitiko. Richly aromatic, this well-balanced wine is full of deep, cherry-like fruit and very nicely textured. The grapes for this beauty were grown in the Macedonia region in northern Greece.

The Domaine Skouras 2010 Saint George, priced $15 per bottle, was a very close second place. St. George is another name for Agiorgitiko, and this unblended rendition has a lovely, silky texture and exhibits vigorous raspberry fruit balanced by a pleasantly spicy note. Skouras, founded in 1986, is one of Greece’s most forward-looking wineries. The grapes for their delicious St. George were grown in Nemea, in the northeastern part of the Peloponnese peninsula.

Try either of these wines with grilled rack of lamb, roasted pork, sausages, or shepherd’s pie. And the next time it’s Greek night at your house, your company will surely welcome them as an alternative to retsina!

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