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  • Writer's pictureSharon Wilson

Greek Wine - From Assyrtiko to Xinomavro with Dr Jamie Goode

Updated: Apr 8

Wine Regions

Wine Events Scotland is fast becoming the gold standard for educational wine tastings in Edinburgh and the masterclasses are a must.

The last tasting at the Assembly Rooms was a Greek Wine Fair and the masterclass was a marathon tasting of 16 wines from Greece curated by author and journalist Dr Jamie Goode.

Greece can be described as the “cradle of wine” and as the interest in minimal intervention, heritage vines and indigenous varietals grows amongst the wine community, it is natural to turn to this Mediterranean country comprising regions such as Cephalonia, Crete, the Attica, the Peloponnese and central Greece.

The quality of Greek wine is no myth. Varietals have unique profiles which are influenced by factors like climate, terroir and the hardware and processes of fermentation. If you like wines that are bracingly different rather than full-on fruity it is worth seeking out these varietals. For example, Jamie describes Savatiano Vientzi 2020 from the Papagiannakos Winery as “herby, briney, waxy, complex and savoury”.

Dr Jamie Goode

He refers to Assyrtiko as the ‘rock star’ varietal of Greece and as “one of the noblest white varieties of the world.” It is one of the grapes grown in Santorini which has been practising viticulture for an estimated 3,500 years. Soils are volcanic, sandy and rich in minerals producing bone-dry whites with high acidity.

The red wines we tasted also tended to be fresh, light in colour and acidic. Again this is due to distinctive terroirs free of organic matter which also means Greek wines have escaped disease. Plus the altitude of mountain vines and exposure to the sea both influence their sometimes taut characteristics.

Having said all of the above there are some lovely floral wines like Moschofilero from The Peloponnese which has a rose perfume and a White Muscat from Samos where the grapes are dried in the sun to maximise sugar.

Hellenic wine offers a sensory odyssey where you can taste terroir, climate and method.

There are a couple of new restaurants in Edinburgh that have exclusively Greek wine lists: Kuzina and From Kafeneion to STEKI. This could be a way to dive into the world of Bacchus. Also, look out for upcoming tastings from Wine Events Scotland as a palatable way to expand your wine knowledge. (S. Wilson)

Basket-shaped vines protect the grapes from Santorini’s strong winds and sand

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