The origins of Greek wine can be traced back to 4000 BC, when people in northern Greece first began cultivating vines. The region possesses diverse and abundant terroir, encompassing towering mountain ranges, verdant valleys, and islands abundant in minerals. The soil is teeming with fertility, generously hydrated, and basks in ample sunlight during the summer months, while enjoying warm autumns, creating the perfect conditions for ripening. With more than 200 grape varietals unique to Greece, such as Xinomavro, Assyrtiko, Agiorgitiko, and Savatino, the country stands alone in producing wines that are unmatched elsewhere in the world.
In the Northern Greece wine region of Macedonia, you will find Wine Art Estate. The story of Wine Art Estate begins when Yiannis Papadopoulos, a civil engineer by profession, decided to make the wine he loves to drink and share with friends. This decision soon changed this relationship with wine: he pivoted from the role of wine lover to the role of winemaker. He first revived a family-owned vineyard and constructed a frugal facility that would house the wine making process in his old paternal hometown of Mikrochori, Drama. A small underground cellar was built for the aging of the first vintage and the ones to follow. The first experimental wines were released with the contribution of consultant oenologists and showed enormous potential.
Following that time’s trends and focusing on Bordeaux varietals, the first varietals planted were non native such as Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay. They followed this by planting a discerning selection of Greek varietals such as Assyrtiko, Malagousia, Agiorgitiko, and Xinomavro.
Wine Art Estate’s philosophy is that great wine begins in the vineyard, is grown by those who adapt, listen to nature, and are respectful of the land’s energy. They are committed to sustainable agricultural processes whilst producing high quality wines without compromise to preserve the land for generations to come.
Traveling to the south, you’ll eventually land on the island of Crete, which lies at the southern edge of the Aegean Sea. A mountainous island, Crete is a major producer of olive oil, citrus fruits and garden vegetables. Owner and founder of Manousakis Winery Ted Manousakis was born in the village of Vatolakkos in 1943, but he left the island at the age of 11. For an enterprising young man, the possibilities were endless. After university, he was successful in a number of business endeavors including industrial security, real estate development, and hospitality. However, success came at a price: the near loss of his Cretan heritage. Nostos is the Greek word for “yearning to come home” and this propelled Ted back to the land of his birth. He wanted to be more than a mere visitor, he wanted to give something back to the island that he loved. Wine has deep roots in Crete’s traditions and lifestyle, and filled the memories of his childhood. There was no better way to pay homage to those traditions and bring people together to enjoy life’s simple pleasures.
It began in 1984, when the hills around the village of Vatolakkos were still untouched by civilization and the wild herbs of Crete were abundant and fragrant. Since Ted is neither an oenologist nor a viticulturist, he carefully selected a team of expert consultants including Laurence Feraud, Pascal Marchand, Lucie Morton, Bruce Zoecklein and Yves Herody. They conducted numerous studies and came to the final decision to plant the Mediterranean varieties of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Roussanne. These are the grapes they cultivate to this day. They feel that the environmental conditions and the terroir are ideal for these exquisite varieties. Soil, sun, weather conditions and yearning converged to perfection and gave birth to Manousakis Winery and the first vineyards were planted in 1993.
Wine Art Estate Plano Malagousia
Region / Country of Origin: Drama, Macedonia, Greece
About the vineyards: The vineyards are planted on carefully chosen slopes, situated between two parallel mountains, Mount Falakro and Mount Menikion. These mountains create a unique growing environment with amazing potential for the production of distinctive wines. The microclimate of the area fosters the production of full-flavored and balanced grapes with great aromatic potential.
About the winemaking: 100% Malagousia (Mah-lah-gou-zyá). Cold soaking on the skins prior to fermentation is done to transfer aroma components from the grapes to the must. Fermentation occurs in stainless steel tanks with “batonnage sur lies” (stirring of the fine lees) for a month; a method that gives the wine volume and complexity.
Tasting Notes: This wine is the benchmark for Malagousia, both balanced and expressive. On the nose, intense character which brings a Mediterranean garden with green herbs to mind. Citrus fruits, unripe peach and a wonderful green characteristic reminiscent of green pepper, freshly cut grass, fennel and mint. Its wonderfully refreshing acidity in combination with the moderate body and medium alcohol make a real flexible wine, easily paired with different foods without losing its expressiveness.
Winemaker: Akis Papadopoulos
Price: $27.99 btl/$302.29 cs
Suggested Food Pairing:
traditional egg-lemon ‘avgolemono’ sauce,
Pasta alla Genovese with basil pesto sauce,
Dolmas stuffed with rice and pork
Manousakis Winery MRS Red Blend
Region / Country of Origin:
About the vineyards: The vineyards are situated on the hills just outside the village of Vatolakkos where the soils are predominantly rich in clay and argil, ideal for limited plant growth but great for good soil wringing. The Mediterranean climate keeps them on their toes but provides the conditions needed for delicious grapes. Much to their satisfaction, their chosen varieties have thrived and have done exceptionally well in their environment, achieving great balance in the vineyard and finding a comfortable home in Crete.
About the winemaking: 20% Romeiko, 80% Syrah. The Romeiko is grown on deep, clay loamy, calcareous soil at 200 to 280 meters altitude. It ferments in stainless steel tanks then fermentation continues in used barrels for six months. The Syrah is grown on schist, sandy clay loamy at 320-380 meters altitude. It ferments in stainless steel tanks and ages in stainless steel tanks for 12 months.
Tasting Notes: MRS stands for Manousakis, Romeiko, Syrah. Dry red wine with
aromas of black berries, cranberries and some nutty character. Medium bodied wine
with gentle acidity, rounded tannins, and lots of ripe dark berries with some vanilla
Winemaker: Kostis Galanis
Price: $23.99 btl/$259.10 cs
Suggested Food Pairing:
Roasted red meats,
slow cooked lamb or goat,
a nice charcuterie plate.