Category Archives: Greece

Domaine Skouras Dum Vinum Sperum 2009

On a recent trip to Athens to visit my friends E&M I had the chance to try a lot of Greek wine. Almost as soon as I dropped off my luggage at their apartment they whisked me off to their local wine shop. Faced with the somewhat overwhelming task of selecting wine; I braved an alphabet I only half understand and shelf upon shelf to pick out a few bottles. One that I could not resist was this Domaine Skouras Dum Vinum Sperum.

I knew it was a Chardonnay, which I usually shy away from, but I couldn’t resist it. And while the label was one of the most simple, stark examples we saw; it was powerful. “Dum Vinum Sperum” At first glance my assumption was that this was Latin for: “While there’s wine I hope.” But then I really looked at it and was confused. The Latin for “I hope” should be “spero” not “sperum”. However my Latin is pretty rudimentary and really only gets me through Mass so I called in the bug guns. I checked this with a cousin of mine who, as a Biblical scholar is well versed in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and a is all sorts of scary smart. “Sperum” isn’t a word in Latin.

I will continue to live under the assumption that they were going for “While there’s wine I hope” but if anyone knows what’s really going on I’d love to hear from you!

Dum Vinum Sperum

Domaine Skouras is the love child of George Skouras. In 1980 he went to Dijon to study agriculture but fell under the spell of Burgundian wines. He switched paths and, after graduating with a degree in oenology established his winery in 1986. Domaine Skouras is located in the Northeastern Peloponnese. The winery is situated within the Nemea zone, the largest Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) for red wines in Greece.

At Domaine Skouras the focus on purity, clarity of variety, tracing the region’s mesoclimate, and terroir drives the philosophy behind their wine making. The Dum Vinum Sperum 2009 is a perfect example. Grown in the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) Peloponnese (part of the PDO Nemea) this 100% Chardonnay is reflective of Domain Skouras’s philosophy.

Dum Vinum Sperum

Domaine Skouras Dum Vinum Sperum 2009 Tasting Notes:

I am shy around Chardonnay and the dark gold of this wine had me worried. The nose just about knocked us all down. Intense aromas of burnt sugar-like the top of a creme brulee-leapt out of the glass. We had nothing on hand that I could use as a decanter which is a shame*.  If ever a white wine needed some breathing room I think this one did. None of us got any hints of fruit but burrowing under that burnt sugar were hints of flowers and mineral.

If we thought the nose was a kick in the face we should have been better prepared for what would happen when we drank it. A powerful attack of burnt sugar and vanilla stunned us all at first. It wasn’t until a tentative second sip that we detected some of the more delicate flavors of honeysuckle in the finish.

We were split right down the middle on this. Em and I were not huge fans. I kept drinking out of fascination more than anything. E will drink just about anything you set in front of her but M really loved it.

This might not be the first wine to pop into my head the next time I want a Chardonnay; but I think Dum Vinum Spero is my new motto!

*Yes! White wines also benefit from decanting and breathing!

Athens, Ktima Gerovassiliou Malagouzia, and Cinque Wine Bar

Georgia wasn’t my only wine-focused trip in May! E&M were spending the month in Athens sorting out E’s Greek citizenship (me = green with envy!) and had several times encouraged us to visit. Having just returned from a whirlwind trip to Tbilisi I was reluctant to do so. Until they sent me pictures of the inside of their local wine shop with promises to take me.

Cinque

How could I resist this?

My arm sufficiently twisted I booked a flight and prepared to spend a long weekend exploring the Athens wine scene. Then Em fell victim to a visa snafu and had to leave the country within 10 days. So early one Friday morning we BOTH headed to the airport for a quick flight to Athens.

Cinque

Fantastic label

After we arrived E&M whisked us off for a leisurely lunch. We ate every pork-having dish available and soaked fries and bread in the most delectable honey pork juices. Then it was to the promised wine store so I could begin my Greek wine education!

Cinque

Another great label!

Sadly while the shop was full of wine the staff were less than helpful. However they did deign to recommend a few bottles. Given the sea of unfamiliar grape names and, fantastic bottle designs, and limited knowledge of the Greek alphabet even their begrudging assistance was welcome. I started with five bottles thinking that would do us for the couple days we were staying. I don’t know who I thought I was with or if I temporarily forgot how much I can drink but those five bottles lasted us until we went out for dinner that same evening.

Gerovassiliou Malagouzia

Ktima Gerovassiliou Malagouzia 2016 Tasting Notes:

The Ktima Gerovassiliou Malagouzia 2016 was our first wine together in Athens. After one sip I realized I had found my first favorite Greek grape: Malagouzia. This wine is a single vineyard wine from the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) Epanomi that is vinified mostly in stainless steel but also in a little French oak. The wine is left with its lees for a number of months to gain structure and body.

In the glass it’s a brilliant pale yellow with a lot of green highlights. The nose was so reminiscent of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (my favorite white wine). Aromatic and fruity it exploded with tropical fruits, white peaches, and citrus. On the palate it’s zesty lemon peel and tropical fruits with a zingy acidity and lightly mineral finish. If I had bought five bottles of just this wine I would have been happy.

Sheets of cold rain kept us in the next morning. Eventually we made it out for shopping and more wine acquisitions. Many more wine acquisitions in fact. So when we rolled up to the Cinque Wine Bar we were laden like beasts of burden.

Cinque

Tucked into a small space near a tango school is the Cinque Wine Bar which E&M had just discovered. It’s thanks to the lovely owners at Cinque that I can now claim a wee little bit of Greek wine knowledge. Cinque offers of course wines by the glass and bottle but even better they offer wine flights. Each flight comes with a place mat that gives information about the wines.

Cinque

More than just plunking down these excellent tools; the owners were only to happy to talk to us about Greek wine, wine regions, wine making…all things Greek wine related! In one afternoon there I learned a great deal; especially that I love the native (white) Greek grapes Malagouzia and Assyrtiko.

All in all we had a fantastic, if lightening quick visit to Athens! I tasted (and bought!) a lot of fantastic Greek wine and came home with some valuable knowledge about it to boot.

Papaioannoy Roditis Sauvignon Blanc

Last autumn E&M visited E’s family in Greece returned with many many bottles of Greek wine for us to try, including this 2015 Roditis Sauvignon Blanc by Papaioannoy.

Roditis Sauvignon

I have had very limited experience with Greek wine before now. Limited in fact to pretty much just jugs of table wine from my brief trip to Athens. Those I would not recommend. I would however recommend the Papaioannoy Roditis Sauvignon Blanc.

Papaioannoy is an organic vineyard located in Corinthia where they grow grapes on the doorstep of history with vineyards located adjacent to the Temple of Zeus. Papaioannoy has 57 hectares planted in seven locations to take advantage of different soil make up and micro climates. They plant: Agiorgitiko, Cabernet Sauvignon, Roditis, Assyrtiko, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Merlot, Touriga, Roussanne, Sauvignon Blanc, and Petit Verdot.

Roditis Sauvignon

Papaioannoy 2015 Roditis Sauvignon Blanc Tasting Notes:

Roditis (or Rhoditis) is the most widely planted white wine grape in Greece. Despite it being used for white wines, it is not a white grape. In fact it has pink-reddish skin. The wine it produces often has lemony or mineral aromas with zingy acidity.

The Papaioannoy Roditis Sauvignon Blanc is a light-bodied, refreshing wine with 13.5% abv. Pale, clear yellow in the glass the aroma profile was citrus, pears, tropical fruits, and citrus blossoms. On the palate it was crisp and dry, citrusy with subtle pear flavors and a honeyed finish.

For me this was bitter sweet as it were. The wine was lovely but we drank it at E&M’s going away party the evening before they left Turkey. Despite the sad memories now attached to the Papaioannoy Roditis Sauvignon Blanc I am eager to delve more deeply into Greek wines.