GREEK EASTER - Xinomavro or Agioritiko?
Back to our original dilemma, of course; what Greek red wine to drink on this all meat loving day? Ok I am not trying to start a wine civil war here, but it's a fair question. Just like in other wine producing places, Tuscany vs Piedmont, Burgundy vs Bordeaux, Rioja vs Ribera del Duero, Napa vs Oregon, how does one choose? In Greece we got Nemea ( Peloponesse) vs Naoussa (Macedonia). Their wines could not be more opposite. Both have legions of friends and enemies, alike. My other half of Uncorked Greeks is a militant defender of Xinomavro, I on the other hand while respecting this grape, have a soft spot for Agiorghitiko ( St George grape).
Is there room to compromise? Can we all get along and play well? It's Easter time, people, let work this out.
Let me just say that both Agiorghitiko and Xinomavro work well with roasted lamb or goat.
In Nemea, just over an hour and a half west of Athens, Agiorghitiko is King. If one prefers fruit forward, smooth wines with low to medium acidity and medium to high alcohol this is the wine for you. This grape though is a chameleon. I just told you about the wines of the Nemea valley area. Head to the surrounding mountains, say at an elevation of 3-4K feet, and the grapes grow in a much cooler microclimate, very arid and nutrient deficient soils, thus receiving small yields of impeccable fruit. Those who master the art of viticulture and winemaking in these areas, produce some true heavyweights. Higher alcohol, fruit, serious tannins, long aging potential are hallmarks of their wines. These are the right ones to cut through the fat of the lamb and will compliment the side dishes as well. Sounds like a winner to me!
Travel 350 miles to the north, past Mount Olympus, and just an hour west of Greece's second largest city, the beautiful Thessaloniki you'll arrive to the picturesque town of Naoussa. Here Xinomavro rules the land. The landscape here, is so mush different from southern Greece, and so is the micro climate. Winters are very cold and snowy. Summer is hot but dry. The breeze of the Aegean Sea moderates the night temperatures. This is the perfect environment for Xinomavro to thrive. The signature light to medium red color is misleading though. If one expects a light weight, easy drinker, well think again. It's a tannic monster with high acidity, high alcohol, all the stuff to make it age for a long time. Open a bottle at 10-15 years of age and smell it in a Burgundy type crystal. There is nothing like it. Drink it young, but better have plenty of meat on the table. Ok, see, I made it. Sound like Switzerland, so neutral. This Easter have fun with your family and friends and enjoy some seriously fantastic wines from Greece.