Maybe I should just title this Greek of the Week. Despite rising popularity and critical acclaim in recent years, far too many wine drinkers remain ignorant of the fine wines coming out of that ancient land. Happily, the wine industry there is no longer trapped in the past. Despite a winemaking history that stretches back millenia, Greek producers today have embraced modern viniculture and all that it promises.
One of the best stories coming out of Greece in recent years is the resurrection of the ancient variety Malagouzia and its restoration to the pantheon of the world’s great white wines. “It is thanks to Evangelos Gerovassiliou’s work when he was at Domaine Carras in the 1980s and 1990s that Malagousia was recognized for its great potential, the variety having been found in western Greece by Professor Logothetis of the Agricultural University of Thessaloniki and planted in an experimental plot that he rented at Carras” (Konstantinos Lazarakis, The Wines of Greece, Mitchell Beazley 2005). Gerovassiliou has continued his impressive work with Malagouzia at his eponymous estate, producing varietal wines, but often blending with Assyrtiko “to add perfume to the latter higher-acid and more mineral variety” (Robinson, Wine Grapes, Harper Collins 2012). Due to its resurgence, the once rare grape is now planted in many regions across Greece and is popular with some of the country’s finest producers.
I’ve enjoyed Malagouzia from Gerovassiliou but only recently had the chance to taste wines from the original production site at Domaine Porto Carras. After only one glass I knew this bottle was going to be a staple in my cellar.
In the glass, the wine is a brilliant green-gold, but what is most striking are the aromas that simply jump out to greet you. Immediately you pick up apricot, lime, orange blossom, with hints of green apple and wet gravel. On the palate, the flavors are less perfumed and more savory, with steely, earthy notes, lemon and lime pith, and apple skin. The perfect balance of acid and fruit give structure to a wine that is light and long, the finish lingering noticeably until you’re compelled to take another sip.
Malagouzia is a versatile wine, one that will pair well with all sorts of seafood and meaty white fishes, as well as chicken and pork. It’s also a delight on its own. With an abv (alcohol by volume) of 12.5%, and retailing for around $15, this is one white you’ll want to have on hand for almost any occasion.
[disclosure: free review sample]