About Me

My Photo
Vice President Athenee Importers

Friday, June 20, 2014

Celebrate the Summer Solstice with Greek wines

After a long, cold and snowy winter in the Northeast, the weather has finally begun to cooperate and we will have a beautiful weekend - just the way to kick off summer!

Come summer time, I tend to drink refreshing wines - white, rose & unoaked reds.  Anything that's a bit heavier is kept in the cellar until the fall & winter months come back around.  Come summer, the best wines for the weather are high acid wines in any color.  They are refreshing and pair well with all cuisines.

As it typically happens with the wines we import, they are usually too young when we first get them in during the 1st quarter of the year.  I have gone back and started retasing several wines again to see how they have developed and I am really pleased with their progress.  In some cases, I have found some 2011 & 2012s in the wine fridge and I must say, I'm sad that we've moved onto new vintages 0 they are just starting to show their stuff!!!

With that being said, here is a snapshot of what I have been revisiting and drinking at home recently:

 





Ktima Pavlidis Thema White 2013 - I am a huge fan of this wine when it's got about a year of bottle age on it.  Right now, the Sauvignon Blanc is really showing on the nose and the Assyrtiko is still hanging out in the background.  For you SB lovers, you will REALLY enjoy this wine now.  For those that want more minerality, grab a few bottles and give it another few months - the SB will tone down and the pretty characteristics of Assyrtiko will come out.

 



Mercouri Estate Kallisto 2013 - This year this wine is SUPER! It's a blend of Robola & Assyrtiko from the farthest West you can get on the Peloponnese, near ancient Olympia.  It's got a bit of weight to it from the Robola and then great minerality from the Assyrtiko.  I have been having this with spicy grilled skirt steak and it's been fantastic.








Karavitakis Little Prince Red 2012 - This is one of our newest producers in the portfolio from Crete and I'm still getting my head around the Cretan grape varieties.  This is a blend of the Cretan grapes Kotsifali & Mandilari and it's 100% unoaked.  When you first open it, the wine can be a bit wild and gamey.  I have found that chilling it down a bit has done wonders for the flavors and aromas to open up and become really tasty. many of my "big red" wine drinking friends have been able to appreciate it's lighter weight for the summer.


As I keep revisiting my wines, I will post my findings.  If you come across any of these wines where you live, grab a bottle and try it.  Let me know what you think! 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Looking to the future - announcing our first Estate Kegged wine

In recent years, wine in kegs has become more accepted and available across the United States.  From Greece, there is currently one option, but it is kegged in the United States from wine that is brought in a bladder.  We are pleased to announce that our newest property, Karavitakis Winery, has decided to offer Greece's first Estate Kegged wine in the Little Prince White 2013.

Little Prince White 2013 is a blend of 65% Vidiano and 35% Vilana, two native Cretan grape varietals.  The kegs will be available as of July 1st in select markets - New York, Pennsylvania, Boston & Washington DC.  The wine will be in 20L slim Key kegs, which are 100% recyclable.  Be on the lookout for it on tap this summer!

Little Prince White in the bottle & in the keg

Little Prince White kegs being prepared for shipment at the winery

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Samos' new look

2014 marks the year where UWC Samos, Greece & Europe's oldest cooperative, undergoes a face lift on all of its dessert wines.  With the intent to modernize and increase market awareness for the famous dessert wines made from the Muscat grape, UWC Samos has transitioned to a 500ml bottle with cleaner, simpler labeling for each wine.
UWC Samos Vin Doux
The new bottle format and vintages are making their way into general distribution now as the previous vintages & bottle formats are being sold through.  In the new format, the current vintages are:
Vin Doux 2013
Grand Cru 2013
Anthemis 2008
Nectar 2010
 
 
You can find more information on the various styles of the above dessert wines on our website by clicking here.
 
It is also important to note that while some of the larger, negociant houses of Greece sell "Samos" wines, they are NOT the same as the wines from UWC Samos.  Those wines are non vintage and are not of the same caliber as the wines above.  They are cheaper alternatives that do not show the true potential of the Muscat grape and the wines from Samos.

Red Donkey - the newest addition from Santorini Brewing Co

Last fall we introduced Santorini Brewing Co's Crazy Donkey IPA to the United States.  This is Greece's only IPA beer and also, Santorini's only microbrewery.  This April, the first shipment of Red Donkey ale reached US shores.

 
 
Red Donkey is available in 330ml glass bottles and comes in 6-pack carriers.  Red Donkey is an ale style beer that is refreshing with hoppy notes.  Look for Red Donkey to make its appearance across the US as the year progresses. 
 
Please note that due to the upcoming high season on the island, exports will begin to wind down to make way for local demand.  While we have done our best to have enough stock for the summer months, there is only so much we can predict.  Quantities will remain based on demand.  Once our stock is depleted, we will resume shipments in October.

Introducing Karavitakis Winery - our newest addition from Crete

After many years of searching for a winery partner on Crete, we are happy to announce that we have begun working with Karavitakis Winery.  Located on the western side of Crete near the City of Chania, the Karavitakis Winery is family owned and operated.
Entrance to the winery

 
Currently we import four labels from the winery in two different lines - Little Prince & Klima. 

The Little Prince line is made from Cretan grape varieties and both red & white wines are unoaked.
Here are the labels:
Kotsifali & Mandilari
Vidiano & Vilana

 Klima, the word for "vineyard" or "vine" in Greek, represents the higher end line that also highlights Cretan grape varieties.  The labels feature ancient Cretan text, aka Linear B, which is an alphabet that has been linked to the Minoan civilization.  The text is the literal translation for "Klima".
Here are the labels:
A Kotsifali & Merlot blend

100% Vidiano
What's exciting for us is that Crete is a region where there is huge potential for it to increase in prominence.  There are many indigenous varieties that exist nowhere else in Greece (or the world for that matter).  Getting the customer to try these varieties and explore outside their comfort zone is our main challenge.  Niko Karavitakis, the owner's son, has a progressive mind and has a positive vision for the future of the winery.  One very cool project that will soon come to fruition here is keg wine.  We will soon release an estate kegged wine in the US that will be solely from Cretan grape varieties. 

Currently, distribution has started in Oregon, California, New York, New Jersey, Washington DC, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Massachusetts with more states coming on board in the near future.

Stay tuned for updates!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving & Greek Wines - a perfect match

Every year people ask me what I'm drinking on Thanksgiving.  Being a Greek - centric importer, the majority of our wines are Greek that grace our table.  Here are my thoughts on the best grape varieties & wines that pair well with the Thanksgiving meal.

Bubbles
 
While waiting for all of our guests to arrive, I usually have a bottle of bubbly or two open.  This year, I will be pouring Domaine Spiropoulos' Ode Panos Rose.  This is the winery's second release of sparkling wine.  It is made from a blend of 80% Moschofilero & 20% Agiorgitiko.  It is a bright pink color with aromas of rosewater and strawberry - perfect for smoked salmon & prosciutto.


White Wine

With the vast mount of side dishes and appetizers typically found on a Thanksgiving table, you need a wine that has a bit of body and acidity to it in order to stand up to the food.  Look towards Gentilini Robola, known for its weight and body, as a good pairing option.  Additionally, I like Ktima Pavlidis' Thema White and Assyrtiko from the North as well.  The Assyrtiko in the north is a bit more aromatic than those from Santorini.  Pavlidis' Assyrtiko 100% sees some time on the lees, therefore making it a bit rounder and adding some weight to it.

Red & Rose Wine

For me, there is nothing better to pair with the turkey than unoaked or lightly oaked red wines.  Agiorgitiko, Xinomavro & Limnio easily fit the bill here.  The acidity and red fruit notes of these grape varieties pair extremely well with turkey.  Since turkey is a leaner cut of meat, you do not need a big, powerful oaky red - it will just overpower the meal.  Stick to lighter reds and your palate will thank you for it.  Good options include Thymiopoulos Young Vines, GAIA Agiorgitiko, Vassiliou Nemea and Domaine Porto Carras Limnio.  Also, rose wines with high acidity and subtle tannin also are great matches as well.  For me, my go to Rose is GAIA 14-18 - it has the red fruit that pairs well with the cranberry sauce and the acidity and flavor to pair well with stuffing.

Dessert

With the ever present pumpkin pie, UWC Samos aged Muscats such as the Nectar & Anthemis are amazing options.  Their cinnamon and nutty characters are the perfect match with dessert.

To all, have a happy Thanksgiving and enjoy some great food & wine with family and friends!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Harvest Report 2013 - Mercouri Estate

Below are the thoughts from the Mercouri Estate on the 2013 vintage:


Mercouri Estate 2013 Harvest Report

 

The 2013 harvest began on August 12th – a full 10 days earlier than the preceding year with the white varieties of Viognier, Albarino and Malvazia Aromatica first to be hand picked.

Very good weather conditions, including acceptably high temperatures after mid-July, contributed to this early start date.

The combination of excellent growing conditions (ideal temperatures during winter, total absence of grape diseases, zero rainfall after June) with the pre-harvest grape characteristics (high acidities, phenolic richness) lead us to believe that the 2013 vintage will be a classic!