Whether a wine lover or not, a visit to the wine producing regionsof the Peloponnese will give you a rich and intoxicating experience.
Viniculture in Greece goes back thousands of years. Cultivating vines probably started in Macedonia and quickly spread throughout the country. It is only natural that wine has starred in dozens of Greek myths. Until World War II, because of the conflicts, changing borders and population movements, there is few reliable data about the areas where wine was cultivated and the varieties. The landscape clears after the 1950s, with organized cultivation and production of wine beginning in the coming decades. Today, with the help of science, many native vine varieties have been identified; some of them already enjoying an international reputation.
First stop is Nemea and the red variety of “Agiorgitiko”. Agiorgitiko was named after the town of Agios Georgios (known as Nemea) and is the largest red wines’ zone in Greece. The vineyards extend across three levels of rising altitude (200-800 meters from the surface of the sea). As a result, there are significant territorial and climatic differences between vineyards, resulting in the production of different styles of wine of the same variety. Agiorgitiko are fine wines with a characteristic red fruit aroma. The fresh ones are perfect aperitifs; the ones in barrels complement several Greek dishes. Of the dozens of wineries, Domaine Skouras, Gaia-Wines and Semeli Wines are distinguished for their cosmopolitan character.
To the north, in mountainous Aegialia, we find the boutique Tetramythos Winery with organic and natural wines. The most distinguished local varieties are the ones of Roditis, Moschato and Mavro Kalavrytino. With great attention to the vineyard and excellent result, these wines are often found inside famous restaurants (bistronomie & bar a vin) in Paris, Montreal, etc. In the outskirts of Patras, we find the Parparoussis Winery. Thanasis Parparousis studied in Dijon and then returned to his birthplace to make his own winery. Careful work on the vineyard, mild winemaking and revival of local varieties. The varieties Sideritis and Mavrodaphni (dry winemaking) are of great interest.
“WINE IS THE MOST HEALTHFUL AND MOST HYGIENIC OF BEVERAGES”
― Wine has always played a leading role in the local economy, as in the case of the
famous “Fliasios Oenos” which was produced in the region for more than 2,000 years. ―
A few kilometers southwest, we reach Mantineia, an area famous for the white variety “Moschofilero”. The vineyards are located on a plateau and on the surrounding slopes, in a rather cold climate for the Greeks. Moschofilero are fine wines that harmoniously complement fish and seafood. A frozen glass of Moschofilero can also be enjoyed, without food, during a warm summer day at the beach. Tselepos Winery has contributed greatly to the development and extroversion of the region’s wines.
Further west, we reach Ilia, birthplace of the Olympic Games. The Mercouri Estate of 1864 is one of the oldest
Greek wineries, with the vineyards extending a few meters above the sea. It produces high quality wines and the exciting varieties of Avgoustiatis and Refosco. There is also the Stavropoulos Estate, known for the varieties “Assyrtiko” and “Merlot”, with remarkable wines in limited numbers.
At the other end of the Peloponnese, to the southeast, lies the prefecture of Laconia—place of the ancient city of Sparta. The wines of the region have finesse and a unique aromatic character. Near the Byzantine castle, there is the Monemvasia Winery with hospitable people and fine wines, with the white sweet wine derived from sundried grapes being one of the best Greek dessert wines.
Heteroclito was created in 2012 to identify the native grape varieties and the wealth of Greek land, and was quickly recognized by international wine magazines and opinion makers mainly from the US and Canada. In its wine list one can find more than 200 Greek labels, with emphasis on Asyrtiko and Xinomavro varieties. This destination also serves “natural wine” labels. At Heteroclito, wine is joy, knowledge and affordable enjoyment.
Heteroclito Bar A Vin
2, Fokionos Str. & Petraki, Athens
Tel. 210 3239406
Words by Dimitris Koumanis
Wine writer & Co-owner of Heteroclito bar a vin