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The Roaring Red of Greece

One of the most recognized Greek mythological stories is when Hercules slayed the Nemean lion. That story was based in the historical region of Nemea, the homeland of the noble red grape, Agiorgitko. Nemea is nestled in the northeast corner of Peloponnese and has an ideal ecosystem that produces well structured and robust grapes. Surrounded by a collection of mountains, hills, and valleys, Nemea is what I consider the Napa of Greece.

Agiorgitiko, which is also referred to as St. George, named after a Byzantine church in Nemea, has come a long way in the modern world of wine making. In the last thirty years or so, it was producing rather lighter style reds with resemblance to Gamay (a French variety from Beaujolais) to elegant reds with ample fruit components and great balance. Agiorgitiko is typically produced in two styles: the first, it’s fermented in stainless tanks which produces a fresh and vibrant red wine with immense aromas of fresh cut berries and the second, it’s produced according to the appellation laws of Nemea, aged in oak barrels for a year, which produces a rather firm and robust wine. Lastly Agiorgitiko is often blended with other local varieties that provide signature styles of the different winemakers of today.

Either style of Agiorgitiko you decide to drink, you will be welcomed by inviting aromas and flavors. A wine that can be enjoyed with sipping and good parea, along with a great selection at the table with a variety of dishes.

Check out our wine section on Greekazon for great Agiorgitikos, like the one below:

https://www.greekazon.com/products/anemos-red

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The Orange Side of Wine

As the world of wine continues to evolve, our curiosity also continues to grow. The selections of varieties and new styles of wines are increasing at record levels that haven’t been seen before. One of those new styles of wines that are hitting the wine programs at many restaurants and wine bars are “Orange Wines”. But don’t let the term fool you, these wines are not made from oranges. (Phew!)

In fact, these are wines produced from white grapes. The production of orange wines dates back to thousands of years ago. The process here is that once the white grapes are pressed into the selected vat for fermentation, they leave the skins in as well. Normally, the skins are removed before fermentation for white wine production. When the skins are left in during the fermentation, it alters the color and texture of the wine. The wine begins to develop darker hues of color leaning towards a bruised apple or a tint of orange. At the same token, during fermentation, compounds are being extracted from the skins, which create richer and bolder textures.

The results of this process is that orange wines become fuller in flavor and composition. They express very unique flavors and textures. For those that have not tried one yet, we highly recommend expanding your palate and trying one. You should definitely take your time in letting the flavors develop on your palate and you should definitely have some salty and savory snacks to accompany the wine.

We provided a link to an orange wine that is being featured on our platform below for you to experience.

Koukos Winery Electra Orange Wine

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The Show Must Go On!

Greece’s largest wine exhibition, Oenorama is finally BACK! After being suspended due to the pandemic, founder and organizer, Konstantinos Stergides anxiously waited to finally host this amazing expo that he started in 1994. The support and attendance levels to Oenorama continued to grow over the years and positioned it to become one of the most instrumental expos in Greece showcasing the development of wine productions from wineries around the country.

This year’s Oenorama will showcase over 250 wineries and over 2,000 wines to discover. There will also be several interesting speciality sections such as Wine Revelations: a hall dedicated to rare and obscure wines and Oenotechnica: a section where exhibitors will be presenting winemaking equipment, consumables, and a variety of other services.

Oenorama started as a small-scale trade show that has evolved into a multi-level communications platform that provides a diverse experience for consumers, wine producers, members of the trade, and the media.

Oenorama will once again be hosted at the conveniently located venue, Zappeion Megaron in Athens with access to public transportation, hotels, and restaurants. The expo will be held from March 12th to the 14th. For tickets and more information you can visit their site at

oenorama.com

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Dodecanese Islands: Food & Wine Treasures

Twelve Islands, a cluster of sizable islands located in the southeastern corner of the Aegean sea. Each of these islands-jewels feature its own gastronomic heritage, shaped by economic constraints and limited resources. These islands remain isolated and self-sufficient for most part of the year. The majority of visitors arrive in the summer months. So, they rely on themselves to produce sustainable food.

On islands like Kalymnos, where most food comes from the sea, recipes feature seafood – fresh or preserved. Kalymnos is world renowned for its sea sponge fishing, having a tradition in training the best divers. When they would dive for sponges, often times they would bring up to the boat fish, sea urchins, various crustaceans and let them dry in the sun -with a bit of salt. “Bonito” is such a meze from Kalymnos.

In other islands -Rhodes, Karpathos, Kasos, Patmos, that are more mountainous, there are more farmers and shepherds than fishermen. Between the 12th and 16th century, inhabitants had to move inland and live on the mountains to protect their families and belongings from pirates that were roaming the Aegean Sea. In these islands, we have dishes that feature beans and pulses, cheese, traditional pasta made from wheat flour -“Makarounes” from Karpathos, “Pitaroudia” from Rhodes.

Each island has an array of indigenous flora and edible greens. In the island of Astypalea, they cultivate Krocus flowers and make aromatic saffron and sweet potatoes. Capers grow wild in all the islands and are featured in many dishes. Wines are made in Rhodes, Kos and Lipsi. Rhodes holds the largest production of sparkling wines in Greece. In recent years, on the island of Lipsi, they revived an old vine variety, the Fokiano grape. It produces a sweet wine that used to be sent exclusively to the Vatican.

Each of these islands, Nisyros, Patmos, Astypalea, Karpathos, Kos, Kassos, Leros, Lipsi, Symi, Rhodes, Halki, Kalymnos have their own history, people, traditions, waiting to be discovered.

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Drinking Responsibly

As we are all aware of the moral obligation to drink responsibly for the obvious reasons of safety to ourselves and others, it should also include the environment.  We rarely think of what impact do wineries and companies have on their ecosystem and community from their day-to-day operations.  Have you ever thought, as you’re sipping your favorite wine, if that winery is being environmentally responsible in their practices?  If not, then we definitely need to begin thinking this way.  You would think that a winery being an agricultural operation would be environmentally responsible by default.  But there is always that but!  Here are some questions to always keep in mind when thinking about environmentally responsible practices for wineries:

  • Are they using clean and renewable energy?
  • Are they using glass for their bottles?
  • Are their labels from recycled paper? Is there plastic in their labels?
  • What type of glue are they using for their label?
  • What type of corks are they using? If they are using natural corks, are they contributing to replanting cork trees?
  • What type of barrels are they using? New oak, old oak? Do they contribute to replanting oak trees?
  • Is their supply chain green? Short circuit distribution or large distribution 
  • Farm to table movement?
  • Do they use recycled cardboard? Regular cardboard? Wooden box? Is the wooden box chemically treated?
  • Do they recycle their leftover wine must to other operations to convert into a different product?
  • Is their machinery updated and efficient?  
  • Is their pay rate to their staff more than reasonable?
  • Do they offer jobs to locals in their community?
  • What is the ratio of their operation manual vs. automated?
  • Do they purchase supplies and materials from local vendors?

These are just some questions that come to mind when I think of being environmentally responsible from a winery standpoint.  I truly believe when you are aware of the wineries that make efforts to operate environmentally responsible, the better you will feel about the wine you are drinking. Here are some wines from our collection that are produced from environmentally sustainable practices. We highly recommend you try these, and we believe you will feel better about the wine and yourself from the first sip.

https://www.greekazon.com/products/alexakis-kotsifali-syrah

https://www.greekazon.com/products/skouras-moschofilero

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Winter: what happens in the vineyards?

Harvest in the Greek vineyards finishes by November: even in the northern vineyards of Greece -Naoussa, Amyntaio, Drama -they have picked even the last parcels of Xinomavro and Cabernet, Merlot grapes. The months from December, to early March, mark the “winter dormancy” period of the vines.

The leaves quickly turn brown and fall. By Christmas time, the vineyards are bare -only the wooden trunks and the shoots are left on the trellis. The green shoots that carried all grapes and leaves, now turn to wood and are called canes. The vine begins its ‘downtime’: it switches from the photosynthesis mode, to merely storing carbohydrates that will help the plant begin the next growth season.

One of the main concerns that vine growers face in winter is frost- especially in higher altitude vineyards with continental climate. Pruning, on the other hand, is the most important maintenance task in the vineyard during the winter.

In Greece, tradition and religion are very much intertwined: on the 1st of February, we celebrate Saint Trifonas – the patron saint of the vineyards. In most of the paintings, he is holding the cross on one hand and a pruning sickle on the other. On his name day, vineyards workers have the day off: they will attend church service and receive holly water. They will then bless their vines with it, sprinkling some water straight on the vines for good luck. Pruning will start the following day, depending on the area and the weather conditions.

Pruning is done by hand and by expertly trained personnel. It is considered one of the most important jobs on the vine as it will determine next year’s grape yields and wine production. In the most traditional wine producing regions, we see older, more experienced men pruning.

In a Greek proverb, the vine is quoted saying: “Βάλε νιους και σκάψε με, γέρους και κλάδεψε με” which roughly translates to: “Ask the young men to dig me and old men to prune me.”

As the vineyard enters a quiet time to gather its strength, let us all take the time to nurture ourselves, collect our thoughts and get ready for the New Year 2022. Wish you all a great year, full of good wine, good food and good company to share it with! Cheers!

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Off to a Clean Start

As we bid farewell to 2021, we welcome 2022 with as much optimism as possible. And as we continue to navigate our lives with all the challenges we are facing today, we at Greekazon & Greek Wine Club have decided to change directions in featuring and advocating for wines made from cleaner practices. After endless days of extensive research on the subject of wine production on a global scale, we have been astonished at some of the practices that are allowed today. We have made a promise to ourselves and to you that we will continue to make efforts to bring you wines from Greece that are made in the most natural way and with very minimal intervention. Our initiatives will include interviews from winemakers in Greece that are practicing organic and biodynamic farming along with sustainable practices. We will also feature monthly articles and social media posts on the education and awareness of better practices for wine production in Greece.

As we continue to make efforts to eat clean and make better choices for our meals, we should also take the same approach when it comes to wine. Greece is becoming a leading force in Europe’s wine industry by making huge efforts to produce cleaner wine. Now, just to clarify the term, clean wine, in simple terms it means wines that are produced with the least amount of chemicals and synthetics from farming to production.

We look forward to a better 2022 with all of you. Let’s raise our glasses and toast to #drinkingclean and #drinkinggreek!

Drink clean with us with the following wines!

Koukos Winery Electra Orange Wine

Mylonas “Naked Truth” Savatiano

Skouras Salto Moschofilero

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Greek Sparkling Wine

There is no better way to ring in the new year than with your loved ones and a bottle of bubbles. While most people flock to Champagne or Prosecco, Greece often gets overlooked as a sparkling wine region.

From Crete & Santorini, to all the way in Northern Greece, sparkling wine is produced all over the country. If you like the brightness and acidity of a blanc de blanc Champagne, you’d love the method traditionalle sparkling wines of Santorini made with Assyrtiko. If you prefer wines with a little more body and fruity character, seek out the sparkling wines of northern Greece made with xinomavro.

My personal favorite and top recommendation to start off the new year is the Akakies Sparkling Xinomavro from Kir-Yianni. This is made 100% from the native red variety of northern Greece, Xinomavro. Meaning “black and tart,” this variety brings a wonderful fruitiness to this sparkling rosé. With characteristics of strawberries and cream, it is a fruit forward and crowd-pleasing wine that will be perfect for ringing in the new year.

Buy a bottle of Kir Yianni Akakies Rosé

Xronia Polla!

Johnny Livanos, Sales Manager for Diamond Wine Importers, is a 3rd Generation Greek American and expert on all things Greek. Coming from a multi-generational New York restaurant family, Johnny joined the Diamond Wine Importer team after having years in the restaurant business selling Greek wine. Running Greek restaurants, such as Molyvos and Ousia in NYC, as well as Zaytinya in Washington, DC, Johnny gained a tremendous knowledge and passion for sharing the joys of Greek wine with the world. This led Johnny to also launch his own gin brand, called Stray Dog Wild Gin, which is distilled in Northern Greece with a medley of wild Greek botanicals.
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The Best Wines of 2021: Moschofilero

Skouras 2019 George Skouras Moschofilero (Arcadia)
#28 Enthusiast 100 2021

We are proud to share the news that the Skouras Moscofilero was selected as the top 100 wines of 2021! We love how fresh and exciting this wine can be, and glad to see it’s recognized again for its magnificence.

We love pairing moscofilero with light seafood, spicy foods, and salads. This is a bright and aromatic wine with a ton of character and liveliness. Hope it brings you some joy this holiday season!

“This Moschofilero starts with a rich, fragrant nose of jasmine and rose, but its flavors are poised and pert in style, with a spin of bone-dry acid framing its refined citrus and spice flavors. A beautiful example of the variety’s versatility and character.” – Susan Kostrzewa

See the article >

RATING: 93
DESIGNATION: George Skouras
VARIETY: Moschofilero, Greek White
APPELLATION: Arcadia, Greece
WINERY: Skouras
ALCOHOL: 12%
BOTTLE SIZE: 750 ml
CATEGORY: White
IMPORTER: Diamond Importers Inc

Buy a bottle of Skouras Moschofilero

Johnny Livanos, Sales Manager for Diamond Wine Importers, is a 3rd Generation Greek American and expert on all things Greek. Coming from a multi-generational New York restaurant family, Johnny joined the Diamond Wine Importer team after having years in the restaurant business selling Greek wine. Running Greek restaurants, such as Molyvos and Ousia in NYC, as well as Zaytinya in Washington, DC, Johnny gained a tremendous knowledge and passion for sharing the joys of Greek wine with the world. This led Johnny to also launch his own gin brand, called Stray Dog Wild Gin, which is distilled in Northern Greece with a medley of wild Greek botanicals.
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Greece is More Than Sparkling Seas

When we think of Greece, we think of sparkling blue waters and sun drenched beaches.  But when we think of sparkling wine, we never think of Greece, until recently.  I felt the timing was appropriate to write a piece about the new movement in sparkling wines in Greece as we approach the end of the year.  By default we gravitate to Champagne and Prosecco as the standard options for quality, but in the last ten years, Greece has been producing bubbles that will match up with any production.

Typically, sparkling wines can be produced from both white and red grapes.  When using red grapes for the production of sparkling wines, the skins are removed prior to fermentation.  Greece has so many versatile and diverse indigeneous grapes, that they can produce refreshing and crisp sparkling wines.  Greece’s transformation into producing high quality sparkling wines are a result of skillful and progressive winemakers such as Stelios Boutaris of Kir Yianni Estates and Yiannis Tselepos of Domaine Tselepos to name a few.  Stelios is using his estate grown red grape, Xinomavro to produce an amazing rosè sparkler called Akakies and Yiannis is using his estate grown white grape, Moschofilero to produce his refreshing sparkler called Amalia.  Both exceptional examples of well crafted and produced sparkling wines.  

Finally, sparkling wines have made their way to the table to pair with foods and not just be offered as a selection for toasting.  The structure of sparkling wines and the cuisine of many Greek dishes that incorporate olive oil, lemon, herbs, and spices make an amazing pairing.  

I highly recommend trying a few and your palate will thank you.  Stin Ygeia Sas! 

Fun Facts:
On a sparkling wine bottle if you see the terms:

– Blanc de Blanc – the wine was produced from 100% white grapes
– Blanc de Noir – the wine was produced with both white and red grapes

Get a bottle of Kir Yianni Akakies Rosé