I've been hooked on Hi-Time Wine Cellar's $10 Tuesday Tastings, and recently George Pavlov of the Vienna Wine Company, put on a Tuesday Greek wine tasting session. To say the least, the Cretan Mathlete and I were thrilled for this tasting as we straddled up to the bar located downstairs in the cellar basement. Although Greece has been producing and cultivating wine for nearly 6,500 years and is one the oldest wine producing regions in the world, the country's representation in the American market is almost nil besides for the obligatory Retsina from your local BevMo (which is one of the more awful versions I've tried).
We started off with a 2007 Atlantis White made with an Assytiko & Athiri blend from Argyros winery in Santorini. Athiri is a creamier flavored grape that is often blended with the more aromatic Assytiko. The Atlantis was bright and smooth, with a saline minerality. This would be an excellent wine to accompany seafood.
Atlantis White from Santorini ($19.95)
The 2009 Foloi White which blended Roditis and Viogner from Mercouri Winery in the Western Peleponnese made for a perky and crispy taste with a subtle sweetness on the finish. The Roditis grape produces dry, citrus hued wines.
Foloi White from the Peleponnese ($16.95)
I was most excited to try the 2008 Aspro Classic by Gentilini Winery from the island of Cephalonia because of its blend of my favorite Greek grape, Moschofilero (crisp & floral), in conjunction with other varietals including Tsaoussi and Robola. This was my first time tasting wine from the beautiful island of Cephalonia and along with it the Robola and Tsaoussi grapes which are predominantly grown on the island. The Robola grape is known for producing mineral and lemony characterized wine while the Tsaoussi is known for its honey and floral notes. The result was a brilliant lemony and floral bouqueted wine which would pair well with seafood and mezzedes.
Aspro Classic from Cephalonia ($17.95)
The 2005 Antares Red comprised of Avgoustiatis and Mourvedre grapes from Mercouri Winery in the Western Peleponnese had a wonderfully earthy nose with a dry finish. This was my favorite red of the night and I can imagine it pairing amazingly with grilled lamb and heartier dishes such as moussaka and pastichio.
Antares Red from the Western Peleponnese ($28.95)
The 2006 Uranos, produced by Thimiopoulos Vineyards in Macedonia (Northern Greece) and made with 100% Xinomavro grape, was the most interesting of the five wines tasted due to its unsuspecting honey nose. Xinomavro literally means "acid black" in Greek, which explains the wine's dry finish. The grape is known for its high tannin quality, aging potential and noted with aromas of red fruit with hints of olive, spices and dried tomato. This would pair well with heartier winter comfort foods like stifado or Greek stew.
Uranos from Thimiopoulos Vineyards, Naoussa, Macedonia ($29.95)
Another perk at Hi-Time is the ability to purchase cheese from their small frigerator upstairs and take down with you to the bar. We picked up a wedge of triple cream brie to nibble on with our wines.
Hi-Time Wine Cellar
250 Ogle St.
Costa Mesa, CA