It seems that demi-god Dionysus, the god of the grape harvest, wine making and wine, amongst other things, still have his hand over Greek wines, at least the wines made on mount Olympus.
A few weeks ago I attended the DWCC in Rioja, Spain. It might not be the most likely place to find Greek wines but then again when wine nerds collide fun things happen. At DWCC the Wine Mosaic project had a monter presenting wines that highlight original varieties and raise the awareness and consumption of wines made from original grape varieties.
Among the wines they presented was a wine from Ραψάνη (Rapsani), Thessaly, Greece. At the venue I tried the vintages from 1998 and 2000, and I got the got to bring a bottle from 2000 with me home, this one was opened a few days ago (big thanks to Lily Dimitriou).
I’m in no way an expert on Greek wine or grapes, but I managed to find a few facts regarding this wine, the producer and the grapes. If you find something that needs to be corrected or added regarding this, please leave a comment below.
Rapsani is a village and an appellation at Mount Olympus, Thessaly, Greece. The appellation was created in 1932. The vineyards in the appallation are located on the lower southern slopes of mount Olympus at a height of about 100-750 meters above the sea level. Rapsani wine are being made on three Greek grapes: Xinomavro, Stavroto and Krassato. To make a classified wine all three grapes needs to be used. Traditionally wine makers have cultivated the three grapes in the same vineyard but in recent years some have also started to separate them.
Xinomavro is one of the most common native grapes in the northern part of Greece. It is sweet-sour and tastes of dark berries and provides wine with long storage potential.
Krassato is a more unusual grape and grown in principle only in the Rapsani region. The grapes produce wines with high alcohol content, rather low acidity and soft tannins.
Stavroto is also grown primarily Rapsani. The grapes gives wines with relatively low alcohol, low acidity and fairly tough tannins, the wine is maturing quite quickly.
The producer of the wine in question is Rapsani Olympos – E. Vins Tsantali (if I understand correctly, this is their international website, the labels are different, but it should be the same wine) and winery called Mount Olympus vineyard. The vineyards cover some 90 hectares and the vines are over 30 years old and grown as shrubs. For the reserve wines they use grapes from the vineyard located at 450 meters above sea level or higher.
Ραψάνη ( Rapsani ) Epilegmenos ( Reserve ) 2000
The nose is lush with a lovely hint of red fruit, a hint of blackcurrant, wild mint and oak spices. There’s also a light floral note with hints of rose petals and violets.
The wine is elegant. It has a youthful tone with hints of ripeness. The fruit is concentrated but not powerful, there are hints of cherries, wild raspberries, blueberries and blackcurrants but also a hint of tobacco and fresh morning moist soil. The wine has a soft velvety tone combined with a really nice acidity, good tannins and an interesting long finish with hints of oak spices, dried flowers , mint and licorice.
This is a really nice wine that should be great for storage but also really good to drink now. It is a wine that shows that Greece definitely have great potential and I would be happy to have more of it.
Unfortunatly the Swedish Monopoly; Systembolaget, is not a great place if you are looking for Greek wine. In total there are 36 red wines avavilable, in the store range there is one (the others are for order only). There are also 33 white wines, in the store range there is only one (the others are for order only). In other words , there are two wines you can buy in the store of the 69 listed ones (a few of these are the same wines but in different bottle sizes). There are no from Rapsani!
This wine is proof that we should have more Greek wines on the shelvs, a lot more, two wines, a red and a white from the same producer, is not a choice, its an exeption.
This post is also available in Swedish: http://vinotinto.wordpress.com/2013/11/10/doktor-dionysos-och-mister-apollon/