Unless you’re Greek and are being extremely chauvanistic, or you’re not, and being exceedingly pollyanna, at this writing the fascinating and hyper-historic nation of Greece is in a world of shit, pardon my Mycenaean…And Greece’s profound economic woes, not surprisingly, strike too at things oenological, and in many ways, with the greatest virulence.
If you didn’t already know, making wine costs a LOT of money on a lot of levels, so when foreign AND domestic market demand goes soft, and major banks and even whole governments start to drop down through the blue Agean to the murky bottom, making any wine at all wine approaches completing the 13th labor of Hercules. So if you see some decent looking Greek wine, throw noble Hellas some help.
What I bought was an effusive but fresh dry white from the Mantinia appellation in the central Peloponnese in southern Greece, that as a bonus also happened to be certified organic. This region’s signature grape is a pink to light red-skinned variety (like Pinot Gris/Grigio, but with no genetic relation) called Moscophilero (mosh-oh-FEE-leh-roh) that is used to make a very pretty but spunky, almost exclusively white wine that is typically just south of being fully “aromatic” like the Muscat grape group – maybe on the level of Riesling would best capture it – that obviously stands beautifully with bold Greek flavors, especially grilled seafood.
Seafood wasn’t in the flow for us this evening, so I decided to struggle with some phyllo dough (and struggle I did, but practice makes perfect…) and make a tray of baked leek, mint, and walnut rolls from the Macedonia region for the first course, and then a nationwide classic of little garlicky lamb meatballs with dill, parsley, and oregano with an agvolemono (lemon and egg) sauce, and some plain white rice.
Domaine Spiropoulos Mantinia 2010
Slightly coppery, pale gold color. Penetrating nose of yellow flowers, hay, yellow cherries, pear juice, hazelnut, and crytallized ginger. A clean, tart minerality provides the frame for fleshy but sprightly flavors of pineapple juice, toasted wheat and pine nuts, candied citron, mandarin orange, sage, and green apple. Wonderfully etched bittersweet quinine finish.