Terroir Talking Explores Greece
The wines of Greece have always intrigued me because they seem to epitomize how a region’s cuisine evolves with its wines. I have read that there are more than 300 autochthonous grape varieties in Greece—an overwhelming number—but when I heard that only four of these have been granted protected designation of origin status, this was a number I could plan an investigation around. You might ask, as I did, what the criteria was for choosing these four. The answers varied, but the common theme was that these grapes are considered to have the greatest potential to make world-class wines.
I thought I was going to another Old World wine region (albeit very Old World), but what I discovered was so much more. Three weeks sounded like a generous amount of time, but after my first week in Naoussa I knew it was not nearly enough. We think of Greece as a desert surrounded by azure seas, which describes Santorini, but there are also verdant green wonderlands of agriculture and wild and chilly mountains just 20 minutes away from the beach! The diversity of terroir and the ancient varieties, whose names are often impossible to pronounce, express themselves in extraordinary ways. They stimulate our senses, enliven food and invigorate our love of wine.
In the months to come, Terroir Talking will feature the four chosen varieties—Xinomavro from Naoussa in Macedonia, Assyrtiko from Santorini, Agiorgitiko from Nemea, and Moschofilero from Mantinia in the Peloponnese—including Spotlight stories about the people who grow and make wines from them. And I have taken the liberty of adding a fifth variety, Roditis from Pella and Patras, because, after tasting some exciting Roditis wines, I think in the hands of the right winemakers it doesn’t deserve its outdated reputation as a cheap, mass-produced wine. The wines of Greece conjure thoughts of ancient history, from the formation of the earth to the culture that grew from it. I hope Terroir Talking will bring you inside the land, its people and its wines and inspire you to find this new generation of wines and listen for the stories they have to tell.