Posted by: tomciocco | June 16, 2014

MOSCHOFILERO – SHARPER THAN THE POINT OF PERSEUS’S SWORD

For a whole host of reasons, Greece, one of the most ancient and well-developed wine cultures in the world, and a place with a huge range of completely endemic grape varieties, has very little recognition on shelves and restaurants (apart from some of the finer Greek ones), at least outside of Greece itself. Strangely, what is probably the most well-known Greek wine is a white called Retsina, which is also one of the world’s strangest and for most drinkers, least palatable. As you might infer from the wine’s name, Retsina (think ‘resin’) is a wine that is made with the addition of a paticular type of pine sap used to replicate the ancient tradition of sealing amphorae with pine tar to prevent oxidation. Obviously, this addition markedly effects the flavor of the wine, and consequently, its consumption levels (which amongst non-Greeks is low), despite its fairly high name recognition. Thankfully (at least for this wino), there is no pine tar in this evening’s wine.

What we did have on the table tonight was an entirely different Greek white from an appellation called Mantineia made exclusively from a grape called Moschofilero. Mantineia is a plateau that rises to over 2,500 feet above sea level on the large southern Greek island region called Peleponnese. Not surprisingly, this is an exceedingly ancient cultivar that as a consequence has quite a few sub-varietal mutations whose fruit represents nearly every color in the oenological rainbow: from black to red to deep yellow to almost whitish green and with names that start with the each sub-variety’s fruit color in Greek, but all ending in ”-filero”. In spite of all of these permutations, almost all of the commercially produced wines made from this family of grapes comes from the whitish green strain and it is only this sub-variety that carries the name Moschofilero.

And considering what a pretty little charmer Moschofilero is, it’s a wonder that it hasn’t made a bigger name for itself in the foreign market, but such is its lot, at least thus far. In terms of its character in the glass, Moschofilero is typically very pale in color – often almost “water white” – but its aromas and flavors are anything but pallid; it is quite aromatic and redolent of a cornucopia of citrus fruits and presents the palate with a super-crisp and fresh acidity that makes it such a great partner for all of the sour, vegetable and fish-based dishes so common to Greek cusine.

So to make the best of what this saucy little wine is putting out there, I matched it with an appetizer of toasts spread with tuna, olives, long, green pepper, and celery in a garlic/parsley mayonnaise followed by a main course of braised zucchini stuffed with feta cheese, rice, egg, yellow tomatoes, and dill over a bed of shredded and smothered black kale with yogurt, Aleppo pepper, garlic, onion, cucumber and yogurt, served at room temperature.

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Tselepos Mantineia Moschofilero 2012

Slightly coppery light gold color. Very perky and aromatic nose of pear, mandarin orange, and honeydew melon fruit followed by secondary notes of ginger, wild rose, broom, cinnamon and toasted almond. In the mouth the wine shows a medium-weight body with crisp and minerally flavors of white currant, tangerine, yellow cherry, sweet white corn, capers and white pepper. Long and lightly bitter quinine finish.

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Responses

  1. […] Chicken’s intensity in flavour. Because of this, the little known Greek wines made from Moschofilero in the Mantinia region are an easy pick. Very similar tasting to wines like Muscat/Gewurtztraminer, […]


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