Saturday, June 11, 2016

Orlando tasting of selected Greek wines: The sparkling and whites

Switching from absorption to evangelizing, I recently held a tasting of selected Greek wines for Sommeliers, retailers, and collectors here in Orlando. The tasting was held at Capital Grille (International Drive) on May 25th and included the following wines:

Sparkling: Karanika Brut Cuvee Speciale, Karanika Brut Cuvee Prestige, Karanika Brut Rose
White: Ktima Gerovassiliou Malagousia 2014, Boutari Malagousia 2015, Domaine Zafeirakis Malagousia 2015, Domaine Costa Lazaridis Semillon 2014
Red: Domaine Economou Sitia (2006, 1999), Domaine Porto Carras Chateau Porto Carras (2006, 1990, 1993, 1989, 2001, 1994, 1985, 1981).

All of the wines were sourced from the author's private collection.

This post will cover the sparkling and white wines with the reds being covered in a subsequent post. I solicited the perspectives of attendees post the event and use their voices herein.

Sparkling Flight

I have previously recounted my initial exposure to this wine as well as its growing conditions and production process.

John Siudut (Proprietor, Vintage Vino): "Sparkling is always a great way to begin any tasting and I was glad to share a toast at the beginning (Prior to the actual tasting, I had opened a few bottles of Chartogne-Taillet to serve as ice-breakers).  The first three wines in the sparkling lineup were all outstanding, but my favorite was the Rosé which held me riveted with its complex, fresh red fruit flavors and its beautiful length."

Jill Kathryn Davis (former Head Sommelier at Capa Grill at the Four Seasons and Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse): "I have only ever tasted Xinamavro as a red still wine. Karanika’s Brut surprised me. Who knew anyone was even making sparkling wine in Greece, let alone méthode traditionelle with organic Xinamavro grapes in Amyndeon." She thought that the Karanika wines "showed incredibly well" and that "the relatively new project has lots of potential."
Juan Valencia (Assistant General Manager and Sommelier, Norman's at the Ritz Grande Lakes) saw the Karanika Brut Cuvee Speciale as "dense and creamy" with "large gluttonous bubbles"and a "dried red fruit component." He felt that bright acidity was the driving force for this wine. For Andres Montoya (Proprietor, The Wine Barn) this wine was medium-bodied, with a light mineral quality, good acid, and a long, powdery finish. He found it to be a very nice introduction to Xinomavro.

Juan saw the Karanika Brut Cuvee Prestige as much more tropical than the Cuvee Speciale with bubbles that seemed a little finer. "On the palate, focused and angular. Reminiscent of dried apricots and green strawberries. Clean finish as was the case for the Speciale. For Andrew, this wine had a "fuller style, intense mouthfeel, poached pear, mineral and lightly yeasty character. High acid and salinity on the finish."

There was a lack of unanimity as regards the Karanika Brut Rose. As we saw above, it was John's favorite. Juan, however, described it as "tootie fruity" with slight residual sugar. To him it "seemed geared to the poolside consumer rather than serious wine drinkers" and had "lots of room for improvement." Andres described it thusly: dark pink color; intense nose of watermelon and red cherry; rich mousse; residual sugar is very evident. Finishes flat. Low acid.

All participants were amazed at the price point of these wines and clearly saw them, especially the Cuvees, as extremely good value for money.

White Flight
This flight consisted of three Malagousias and one Semillon, the latter of which had been gifted to me by Yiannis Karakasis on my most recent trip to Athens. I have covered the potential origins of Malagousia as well as the Ktima Gerovassiliou operations in prior posts.

John thought that this flight was pleasant but a slight step down in quality from the Sparkling wines. According to John, "I enjoyed the diverse profiles of all the wines and, although none of them reached outstanding, all three were in the good to very good range. I enjoyed the Domaine Zafeirakis Malagousia 2015 a great deal and was impressed by the balanced acidity. I would love to try it with some white fish to see how well it would pair with food. The Semillon was a hard read at first, but the richness and the fruit flavors opened up in the glass.

Malagousia is not a varietal with which Jill was very familiar. She felt that the selection of versions from different producers and regions allows one to see the varietal for itself. She found the varietal  aromatic and not overly acidic. Her personal favorite of the flight was the Domaine Zafeirakis.

Juan saw the Gerovassiliou Malagouzia 2014 as having "pretty white floral aromas, dried muscat, dried peach, nectarine flesh" and being refreshing on the palate. Andres concurred with that characterization: "floral, dry-muscat like, with orange blossom, honeydew and honeysuckle aromas. Reminds me of the dry muscats produced in Malaga by Victoria Ordonez (Botani)."
The Boutari Malagouzia 2015 had "Jasmine and artificial jasmine on the nose, almost like dish soap lavender. On the palate, the wine had an awkward steely character that fell flat. Somewhat awkward" (Juan). Andrew saw it as simple and clean with a light finish.

The consensus winner among the Malagousias was the Zafeirakis. Juan saw it as having "vibrant lavender and citrus oil on the nose. Bright acidity leading the way for ripe stone fruit on the palate. Winner of the lineup for Malagouzia." Andres struck the only discordant note finding it to be refreshing but less aromatic than the Gerovassiliou and having a simple finish.

The Costa Lazaridi Semillon was universally liked. Andres: "powerful, intense aromatics, poached pear, tangerine, vanilla bean, creamy mouthfeel. Reminds me of a Napa Chardonnay made in a full style but still showing good fruit, oak, and not overdone. Juan was equally poetic: "simply delicious. Exotic tropical fruit on the nose like guava flesh, overripe red mango, and golden pineapple. Meaty and brooding tropical fruit on the palate. Beautifully lifted finish. Like an echo that slowly fades.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

No comments:

Post a Comment