Greece has possibly the richest wine producing culture in the world. Grapes have been grown here for over 4,000 years, and the ancient cultures embraced the nutritional benefits of wine so much that it became an integral part of their diets. Wine was a solid foundation of the Greek economy and was widely traded all around the world even in those ancient times. This fascinating history shows just how much of an impact wines can make.
During the 20th century Greek wine was made and exported in bulk. It was widely regarded as inexpensive table wine, with Retsina becoming the most popular variety. After this point, a great deal of change started to occur as producers looked to invest in new technologies and take advantage of the hugely diverse varieties of grapes that grow in Greece. There are easily more than 300 different species of grape grown indigenously in the country, so there is plenty of opportunity to explore different flavours. Quality has taken a huge leap forward as a result.
Santorini is one of the most celebrated wine growing regions of Greece. Wines have been made here for thousands of years, and in ancient Greece traders would make special stops to the island to purchase them. Although famous for sweet reds, they also produce some amazing whites too. An example of this is the award winning 2013 Assyrtiko Wild Ferment by Gaia. This wine is a true individual and has a complex flavour that includes tangy, mildly citric fruit and vanilla. It is smoky, savoury and fresh, with a special intensity.
Macedonia is one of the oldest wine producing regions on the Greek mainland. It has overcome countless hurdles to become the renowned region it is today, particularly the phylloxera that completely destroyed the vineyards in 1898. Producers recovered from this by replanting and investing in new technologies that would bring their production into the new century and cement its place in the global market.
Macedonia is home to some outstanding producers. Of these, Domain Gerovassiliou are highly respected for their state of the art facilities and the fact that they were trained by experts in Bordeaux. They are considered to be the fathers of Malagousia, a wine made from a grape that almost became extinct. With work and the perfect setting, the grapes were saved and are now used to make fabulous wines that regularly win awards. The 2011 Malagousia is a beautiful example and has a ripe apricot character with touches of mango and pear.