Vladimir Grouzman was introducing Samos sweet wines to Ontario at the Wines Of Greece event at the Royal Ontario Museum on 15 May 2016.Photo by Fotini Stephen.

A Couple Of Secrets About Greek Wine

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Header-image-StephenBy Robert K Stephen (CSW)

(TORONTO, ON) – I suppose it’s time to share with you a couple of my favourite Greek wines, which are so obscure in Canada it’s a terrible shame. It’s as if there is a secret just waiting to burst out.

I have been drinking these wines for a couple of decades now and I can’t recall relating my enthusiasm for them to you.

The first wine is a white from the Moschofilero grape. It’s often made solo or used as a blender. It is wine that can remind you in bits and parts of other wines. It’s sort of a Gewürztraminer/Muscat/Viognier and Chardonnay.

Medium dry, usually with apricot, peach, and marmalade being present on the nose. Unlike many Greek whites, it’s not bone dry and can be easily divorced from food as a great sipper, and it’s usually under $20.

It can go well with poultry more than it would with simply prepared ocean fish.

I had a chance to try a few Moschofileros at a Grand Tasting put on by the Wines of Greece on May, 15, at The Royal Ontario Museum, in Toronto.

I think the best of the lot were two Moschofileros produced by Troupis Winery, both of which rated a 93. Considering their price range, that is quite remarkable.

The Fteri Moschofilero was different than many Moschofileros due to some almonds and marzipan on the nose, in addition to both peach and apricot on the stern and disciplined palate. This is a general listing at the LCBO and is priced at $16.10.

The other Troupis (Troupis Mantinia 2015) was again tinged by almonds, and with some banana and apricot/peaches and a surprisingly long finish. Not yet available in Ontario, it will be worth the wait.

The 2015 Boutari Moschofilero sells for $12.95 as an LCO general lister.

On the nose, apricot, pear, and honey predominated. There was a little sharp bite to the wine with peach and pear on the palate. A simple but tasty Moschofilero I rated at 87.

Vladimir Grouzman was introducing Samos sweet wines to Ontario at the Wines Of Greece event at the Royal Ontario Museum on 15 May 2016.Photo by Fotini Stephen.
Vladimir Grouzman was introducing Samos sweet wines to Ontario at the Wines Of Greece event at the Royal Ontario Museum on 15 May 2016.
Photo by Fotini Stephen.

The Domaine Skouras 2015 Moschofilero had peach, apricot, charcoal, and marmalade on the nose and on the palate. It goes for $19.95 as an LCBO Vintages release. I give it a 92.

The 2015 Spiropoulos Mantinia had a nose of pear, apple, peach, apricot, and vanilla, while on the palate apricot jam, peach, and faint burnt orange. It will be priced at $15.70 when it comes to Ontario. I give it an 89.

If you like medium weight, off-dry whites, and are a fan of Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Viognier, or Muscat you’ll find a bit of each in Moschofilero. The secret is out of the bag. Enjoy.

Of course, we Ontario residents get all whipped up by Niagara ice wine, but there are a host of Euro sweet wines, particularly from Spain, Italy, and Greece, or even from Australia and South Africa, that deliver an equal or better bang for the buck.

The Greek island of Samos has been making celebrated sweet wines since 1200 BC which are fortified with neutral grape spirit. They are Greek Port. And justifiably a comparison to 40 year old Tawny Port as one can certainly discern some similarity in taste.

There are six categories of sweet Samian wine, the top being Anthemis. The Samos Anthemis 2010 is a lesson in luxurious decadence, yet tempered by restrained acidity.

It has a brownish cold colour full of burnt and charred apricot. Full of honey, marmalade, and rich apricot and peach. Soft and silky tempered by good acidity.

A killer with egg-based deserts, including the widow maker bougasta pastry, which is full of Greek custard. Rumours have it when a Greek husband went astray he “disappeared” after eating a listeria ridden custard pastry. Usually this fictitious food poisoning occurred in Athens. The Godfather, Greek style.

I’ll give the Union of Winemaking Cooperatives of Samos a 94 for its Samos Anthemis 2010. Anthemis wines are aged for at least five years in oak.

Available in Ontario on a rather off and on basis, and usually at about $30 for 500 mL.

Again on a hit or miss, the Samos Vin Doux is also available in Ontario at about $25 for a 750 mL bottle. The Union of Winemaking Cooperatives of Samos makes a very good Samos Vin Doux 2015 with a very concentrated apricot and apple spread palate.

Like the Anthemis, it is brownish gold, but lacks the full power an extra five years of ageing can create. This makes it a bit more versatile and it might handle prosciutto and melon perhaps better than a rich eggy dessert. Good stuff, and I’ll give it a 90.

Do not bypass Samian sweet wines. They have a fame and pedigree that just may eclipse all sweet wines.

The white table wines of Samos and its rosé wines speak of old world grape cultivation.

By the way, some 97% of Samian wines are Muscat. Having been to Samos, these grapes seems to be planted everywhere, by a whole host of small producers.