Greece has long been an enchantingly beautiful country. Blessed with beauty at every turn, the land itself is ripe for vineyards. The stunning Mediterranean climate, strong sunshine and ideal circumstances created by nature for growing native grapes make it the perfect place for crafting epic wines.
Each region has a unique terroir that gives the wines a personality all its own for complex and intriguing tastes. This has been the way for centuries of course, as Greek winemaking has endured continuously since the 7th century at least as far back as records can surmise and from history and archeology back more than three thousand years.
Years of turmoil and unrest would prove devastating to the Greek lands, however they did bounce back. In the 1970’s, bottled Greek wine was incredibly uncommon. Only Kampas, Achaia Claus, Kourtakis, and Boutaris produced. After that came Evangelos Tsantalis. Eventually, Evangelos Averoff, Dimitris Hatzimihalis, Porto Carras, and Thanassis Parparoussis all came along too and would set the landscape for Greek wine popularity.
The 1980’s were probably among the greatest times for Greek wines, carrying on the new era that came from the 70’s. This was when modernly equipped wineries began and the standards for production were firmly etched in place. The VQPRD and the AOC defined the wine’s characteristics as they do today for the wines of Greece.
Single variety wines weren’t popular then, though there were grapes exclusive to Greece that the winemakers lovingly attended to. Roditis, Moschofilero, Agiorgitiko, Xinomavro, and Savatiano were used though Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon from abroad were added. As the decades passed, the blends of both the local Greek varieties and international ones. This blending proved to be a smart move with the creation of unique and distinct wines that are highly sought after today.
When the crisis in Greece happened in 2008, things looked incredibly grim, but there are now more than 1,400 wineries in Greece. That crisis proved to be the catalyst for the wine boom in the country. More people got into wine making and with plentiful tourists, the market for Greek wine took off.
The established producers put more emphasis on exports and the smaller wineries joined force. This created competitive prices and made international consumers more eager to sample Greek wines. Even though the Greek varietals are shining specimens, some of the wines become much more approachable to the western palate when blended with varietals that were known around the world.
Even retsina, the white wine that gave Greece an unsavory reputation for far too long, has experienced a rebirth. Once considered an unpalatable option, the traditional versions have been pushed out and are rare to find. These days, the new retsinas, which are made with Assyrtiko and Roditis instead of Savatiano, has a much better flavor profile that appeals to all palates. Regardless of producer, the wines still have their pine resin as has been the case for thousands of years as originally it acted as a preservative.
For anyone that thinks Greece is all about ouzo, trying the wines of Greece will surely change your mind rather quickly. The segment is growing impressively with no signs of slowing any time soon.