Archive for the ‘Greece’ category

A great U.S.-based resource for Greek music

August 4, 2011

One of the greatest things about social media is that it seamlessly connects people with similar interests. A recent #FollowFriday over on Twitter led us to discover a wonderful U.S.-based resource for Greek music import CDs, in Greek Town, Chicago, IL.

From Dimotika to Kritika to Laika, you’ll find at and the disks ship from Chicago, so no international shipping charges. Perfect, no?

It was thanks to the amazing and wonderful Maria A. Karamitsos, a Greek writer based in Chicago, who included us in her #ff. We highly recommend her Twitter feed as a great resource to discover and explore Greek culture in the U.S. and Europe. “I love Greece,” she wrote yesterday on Twitter, because it’s a magical & beautiful place w/ a rich history & beautiful people.”

Thanks again, Maria!

thanks to continental and airfrance!

June 25, 2011

Bad weather caused me to miss my connection in newark but the nicest fellow at continental managed to get me on a flight to paris with connection for athens. Can’t believe! I’m finally going to greece. 🙂

Living in Greece: a great “ex-pat” blog and a fantastic resource for travelers

January 31, 2011

After following Greek wine and Greece in the blogosphere for nearly a year (yes, the first anniversary of the Boutari Social Media Project is around the corner!), there is no doubt in my mind that Living in Greece by “Kat” is the top resource for Greece-bound travelers.

Here’s the author’s tag line:

“Living, working, musing, and misadventures in Greece: a practical guide to moving, living, working, and traveling in Greece, plus tips and narratives from an American in Athens.”

There are scores of ex-pat bloggers based in Greece but Kat’s blog is the best. Check it out here.

Pairing the World Cup with wine

June 14, 2010

Across the blogosphere, wine bloggers are having fun pairing World Cup matches with their favorite wines from the countries on the field.

Like this post, by the popular wine blog Enobytes, where the authors suggest that we predict a winner based on the quality of wines produced in the competing countries.

“The 2010 World Cup has officially started,” they write, “and everyone seems to have #worldcup fever! But rather than figuring out who’s got the better team based on soccer odds, let’s pick a winning team based on which country has the better wine! Buleuah!”

Unfortunately, Boutari Moschofilero didn’t help the Greek national soccer team, despite being Enobyte’s Greek “value white” pick.

Korea Republic v Greece

In Korea, wine is enjoyed only by a small portion of the population and has not yet achieved a place in the mainstream culture. Korean drinkers prefer beer and a distilled spirit called soju. As for viticulture, Korea has roughly 40,000 acres of vineyards, primarily used to make table grapes and dried fruit, focusing more on the fruit and medicinal wines. Can I convince you soccer fanatics to drink a dried fruit wine on game day? Oh, come on, drink it, you’ll like it! Alright, I give up, the winner is GREECE!

Greece has been modernizing their wine making practices for a while now and they’ve been experimenting with 300 indigenous grapes. I’ll list them and test you later. Seriously, you’ll be impressed with the quality and styles produced. Don’t be intimidated by the indigenous grapes named Assyrtiko, Xinomavro, Roditis and Moschofilero.

South Korea beat Greece 2 – 0. 😦

Click here for the entire World Cup schedule.

The two “divas” of Greek wine: Assyrtiko and Xinomavro

June 9, 2010

Above: Some of the world’s top wine professionals gathered for the New Wines of Greece grand tasting and seminar at the end of May in New York City.

We recently came across a great post on the New Wines of Greece grand tasting and seminar in New York (May, 2010) by wine blogger and wine professional Christine Berenger, author of Fava Beans and Chianti.

Christine gives readers a great overview of the seminars we attended and a solid backgrounder on Greece, its wines, and its grape varieties. But our favorite part of her post was devoted to the two “divas” of Greek wine, Assyrtiko and Xinomavro:

With over 350 indigenous varieties that are not genetically linked to any other varietals in the world, the wines of Greece are truly unique. While Greek wines are distinct and not directly comparable, this forum gave people a side-by-side comparison with other more popular international varietals, so if someone liked some of the characteristics of “X popular varietal,” then they might also enjoy a glass of “Y Greek varietal.” The tasting was lead by Doug Frost, one of three people in the world who is both MS and MW. He is true lover of Greek wines. I tried quite a few of these Greek wines, but the ones I thoroughly enjoyed (and plan on buying for myself) were made from the following two varietals — Assyrtiko and Xinomavro. Doug described these two varietals as “the divas,” which I concur as being a good descriptor. Here’s the secret decoder ring. If you enjoy the austerity, acidity and minerality of a Chablis or Riesling, you might fancy an Assyritko. If you like the dustiness and earthiness of Barbaresco (Nebbiolo) or Brunello (Sangiovese), you might want to try Xinomavro.

Click here to read the rest of Christine’s excellent post.

Greek wine blogger Markus Stolz interviews Greek wine legend Geourge Skouras

May 20, 2010

German-born wine blogger Markus Stolz (left) is without a doubt the blogosphere’s leading authority on Greek wine today. Author of the widely followed blog Elloinos, Markus began writing professionally about Greek wine in 2009.

Earlier this month, he posted this excellent interview with Greek wine legend George Skouras at the popular online wine magaine and blog PalatePress. In the piece, Skouras shares his insights into the state of Greek wine today in the light of the current economic crisis. A must read for anyone following the world of Greek wine and Greek wine in the world today…

Wine expert Susannah Gold on Greek wine

May 7, 2010

The below post comes to us courtesy Susannah Gold (left), a New York City-based sommelier and wine expert. While she writes primarily about Italian wine at her excellent blog Avvinare, Susannah often branches out into other fields of her expertise like the wines of South America or France, or in this case — luckily for us! — Greek wine.

We couldn’t agree with Susannah more when she writes, “As we move towards summer, Greece offers a change of pace at an affordable price, a decidedly winning combination.” Enjoy!

I thought I’d take a break from my Italy travels and post this article I wrote recently about Greek Wines. I am thinking of Greece a lot in these days because of the ongoing credit difficulties they are having. While their Sovereign Debt may be downgraded, I for one am upgrading my own ratings on Greek wines.

I am closely following the situation, professional deformity from my days as a financial journalist. That said, these are serious times for Greece and I’d like to at least support the wine industry. In Florence this past weekend I also ran into an old Greek friend Costantino who reminded me what a lovely country it is. I haven’t been in the past five years but do look forward to a future trip and great wines. Lastly, Dobianchi also reminded me via email of his ongoing connection to Greek wines. Check out his blog in coming days for news.

When most people think of Greece, images of glorious islands in the sun or classical buildings from ancient Greece come to mind immediately. When thinking about Greek wines, most people think of Retsina, a tradition wine from Attica made with pine resin that can be, shall we say, an acquired taste. However, the world of Greek wines has so much more to offer and luckily for us, many great Greek Wines are now available on the U.S. market.

Greece can be separated into a number of growing regions, each characterized by a particular indigenous or native grape variety. Some international grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay are grown in Greece but the country is mostly looking to market its own native grape varieties. True, they are somewhat hard to pronounce but than again, the Italian and Spanish varieties were also hard to pronounce at the beginning.

Of course it is difficult to see the current Greek wine renaissance as a beginning because Greek Wine has been around for thousands of years since the Greeks ruled the world. Much has changed, however, in the last 10 to 15 years.

Experts believe that wine making in Greece began in ancient times, ca. 8000-4000 B.C. We know this because of pottery dating from ca. 6000 B.C. which contain resin. Winemaking began in the Caucasus and then spread to Mesopotamia and on to Egypt and finally to Greece. Traces of winemaking were found on Crete from 1500 B.C. The island of Crete was a major crossroads and a port of call on the trading routes in the ancient world. Many nations occupied Greece throughout the centuries including the Romans, the Venetians and the Ottomans.

The first Greek wine known on the export markets was Retsina from Attica. The second was a Cabernet Sauvignon from Domaine Carras which was founded in 1966. Greece established its appellation laws in the early 1970s. However, the real boost in the wine industry came in the 1990s, however, when producers began to look for export markets as domestic consumption shrunk.

Traditionally there were three very large and well known producers: Tsantalis, Achaia Clauss and Boutari. All three are still very well known and are even larger today.

Of the regions of Greece, the one that received an Appellation designation earliest is Macedonia. Some 460,000 hectoliters of wine are made in the region which has 13,000 hectares of vines. It has a continental climate and is more inland than most of the other regions. Drama, one the main areas in Macedonia, has been producing wine for 5000 years. Naoussa is another area in Macedonia that has been famous for its wines for more than a century thanks to the efforts of the Boutari family. The grape used in Naoussa is the red variety Xinomavro. It produces wines of great complexity and depth which can age for many years.

The three peninsulas of Halidiki: Athos, Cotes de Meliton and Epanomi are also quite famous for their red wines made from international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot. The well established wineries Tsantali and Domaine Carras are located in this area.

Central Greece is another region with more than two million hectoliters of wine being produced. This area, which surrounds Athens, is known for its white wines made from the Savatiano grape. The climate is hot in this region but the sea breezes can be a mitigating factor. Retsina from Attica is made using Savatiano vinified with pine resin. Other white grapes that grow here are Asyrtiko, Athiri, and Roditis.

Another region is Epirus where wines are made from Debina, an indigenous variety which makes elegant, floral wines. The two main towns are Zitsa and Metsovo, both are at high elevation, 600 and 1100 meters above sea level, respectively.

The Peloponnese region also produces significant wines in the town of Patras where the white variety Roditis dominates while Nemea, another town, is famous for its red wines made from Agiorgitiko. Moschofiliero, instead, is the main pink skinned grape in thw town of Mantinia. Mavrodaphne, a red grape which is made into a sweet wine is also from Patras. Achaia Clauss is the most famous winery making Mavorodaphne. The winery was established in the 1800s. More than 1.5 million hectoliters of wine are made in this area per year.

Thessaly is yet another region of Greece where wines are made. Here, in Rapsani, Xinomavro is blended with other indigenous varieties such as Stavroto and Krassato to make big tannic wines.

Winemaking has also taken place on Greece’s fabulous islands for many years. The 3000 islands can be separated into two groups: Ionian Islands and Aegean Islands.and Crete. The Ionian islands such as Cephalonia, Zakinthos and Lefkada have different grape varieties as well. Robola, a white grape grows well on Cephalonia while Lefkada and Zakinthos have local varieties which are made into wines that are only available domestically.

The Aegean islands are a different story and have been making wine since Ancient Greece. The sweet Muscat of Samos was famous in the ancient world as was the Muscat of Limnos. Rhodes makes wines using the Athiri grape and the Muscat grape as well. Wines from the romantic island of Santorini are also quite prized and the vineyards are something to see. The vines grow in a bowl like shape on volcanic soil. Assyrtiko from Santorini makes fabulous wines.

Greek wines were on show during a recent group of tastings held by Athenee Importers & Distributors. Judging from the crowd at the event, it seemed that the wines were a hit. Athenee has been promoting Greek wines in the United States for over 30 years. The Mother-Daughter operation is the first and largest importer of Greek wines in the United States. Most of the wines are available for $12-17. What emerged from tasting the wines was the immense complexity of the offering. As we move towards summer, Greece offers a change of pace at an affordable price, a decidedly winning combination.

Follow Susannah’s blog at

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