Well, here we go!
One of the most controversial subjects there is…at least in the world of wine. How often have I been to trade tastings, masterclasses or worked one shift on the floor (restaurant) without being asked a few of these magical questions.
How long can I age this wine? When should I drink this wine? Will this be as good in 5 years as it is now?
No answer could be easier or harder, you may think? With an average 10000 taste buds on our tongues at our disposable, the answer could not be more personal.
On the paper, red wine in Greece has everything to prove being age worthy, but let us talk about a few of those necessary compounds to make a successful age worthy red wine.
Important indicators are acidity, tannins, pH and alcohol. When it comes to sweet red wine, it certainly is the residual sugar content. All these need to be in balance and working together harmoniously, so there is never a single recipe to success. It starts in the vineyard, through the crafty master in the cellar, then to you as an end consumer.
Based on my experience in tasting a few hundred reds for 50GGW, it seems the listed varieties below are all the above, and more importantly delicious to drink.
Xinomavro – either as an individual or a team player. It is often balanced between tannin tension and succulent freshness. Examples like Oenops Wines Xinomavraw, or 2012 Rapsani Grande Reserve by Tsantali Vineyards proved that expectations of aged reds meet purity and can lead to very satisfactory results.
Agiorgitiko – a harder task for most but quite a few have managed to achieve true greatness. Areti Red by Biblia Chora, Ktima Driopi Reserve by Tselepos and my personal all-time favourite with Gaia Wines, Gaia Estate in Nemea. Besides, the 2006 Microclima by Papaioannou was a showstopper for all judges and received very high scores from everyone, for its purity and grace.
Mavrotragano – in the capable hands of Clos Stegasta is not only a showstopper now but has everything lined up for a prosperous future. Impressive was also Dougos Winery with their example.
Mavrodaphne – for sweet and dry, however the latter is too often overlooked even on the domestic market.
Last but not the least, the 2004 Liatiko based wine (with a dash of Mandilari) from Economou in Crete. The freshness and energy of the wine in the glass reflected nowhere near the stated vintage.
Syrah as a standalone variety or with a bit of Viognier like Avantis Agios Chronos are on-par with great French equivalents of Cote Rotie and St. Joseph. To share an even more personal experience, let me tell you a little story. In 2014, I visited the island of Corfu. The real highlight of the trip was a 14-year-old Xinomavro from Foundi. Initially sceptical about the age, my Greek friend assured me of its greatness and capability to aging gracefully. The beauty did not only lie in the fact that he was so right, but the wine was also playing for us a concert going from intense powerful moments through subtle notes and delicacy. Very much like the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky. Age worthy wine is not only defined by its capability to do so, but equally by the people who are drinking it, enjoying it, and writing about it. Sharing is caring. On that note…Cheers