Most of my time in Greece has been spent on the Aegean Island of Samos south of Lesvos and just off the Turkish coast.
Samos produces absolutely world class sweet Muscat wines some of which are fortified. Over the past few years the United Winemaking Agricultural Cooperative of Samos has tried to create a brand of off dry Muscat based whites which are drinkable but hardly memorable. Some newer wineries are taking a stab making at times some very good Rosé. But red wine from the rest of Greece is not easy to find there. We do here in Ontario get a small flow of the dry and tannic Xinomavro but like old style Barolo it needs at least a decade in the bottle. I only wish, as usual, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario could expand its portfolio of Greek wines preferring instead to import loads of California wine. How long this may last with President Biden’s “Buy American” programme who knows as that may cut deeply into the Canadian auto industry and spark some Canadian retaliation.
Putting aside these unpleasant political thoughts of trade wars that few countries win we can delve into the Nemea 2016 Reserve made with Agiorgitiko grapes. On the nose there is a pleasant presence of red cherries with raspberry and strawberry. On the palate the tannins are moderate. The rawness of the wine continues on the palate with cherry and wobbly and febrile notes of raspberry and strawberry. Rough and choppy like the Athenian port of Piraeus years ago before it was gentrified but still home to some remarkable cuisine.
I would not write off the wine as one glorious birthday years ago I went to a grill house of great local repute in Samos at Ano Vathi (Old Vathi) overlooking Vathi below with the mayor of Vathi eating beside us. Yes why do I attract celebrities? I suppose my previous brush with celebrities in Greece was in the 1970’s eating at an island restaurant with Caroline Kennedy at the next table. Oh yes I had delicious grilled lamb on my birthday which this rough and ready wine would suit very well. Which reminds me of the time I was staying at the Ritz-Central Park South in Manhattan and entering the hotel was besieged by photographers thinking I was a powerbroker with Mariah Carey’s party. I could also tell you with my brush with Michael Douglas and Oprah but that will wait.
Ooops…sorry. Now the wine should be consumed in the next two years. Its tannins may evolve into something a bit softer. On the other hand if you like rough and ready now is the time!
(Cavino Nemea Reserve 2016, PDO Nemea, Greece, $15.95, Liquor Control Board of Ontario # 245787, 750 mL, 13%, Robert K. Stephen A Little Birdie Told Me So Rating 88/100).