Sunday, May 31, 2009

What a stunning Greek wine: Ghi ke Uranos

Yesterday I organised a blind surprise tasting that my wife arranged for Laurine, a friend who is getting married as part of her all-day hen party. Eight friends (rigourously all women, since it was a hen party) attended the tasting, where I chose wines from some of the countries that Laurine likes the most.

I selected myself all wines, except for a Greek red wine that was gently offered by a Greek-Belgian friend who was at the tasting.

I have to admit that my knowledge of Greek wines is very limited. Despite being the place where the culture of wine developed in the ancient times, Greece has not built a strong reputation for wine in the last decades, and is known outside its borders mostly for white wine and of course for its retsina.

I then had to search for information regarding this wine in order to prepare the presentation. I started to look in the net and first I found some info on the grape, Xinomavro, considered one of the best indigenous red grape of Greece, with good acidity, tannic character and aging potential and cultivated mostly in the north of Greece.

During my research on the producer, Apostolos Thimiopoulos, I found a reference in an interesting wine blog in english on Greek wines, Elloinos. In a post the German blogger , Markus Stolz, described a dinner he had with Apostolis Thimiopoulos and my attention focused on a detail: the two of them opened during the dinner a bottle of Bruno Giacosa Barolo Falletto 1999. Since Bruno Giacosa is one of the best (and highly traditional) producers in Piemonte and his wines are not easily available (and quite expensive), I was surprised and of course very intrigued to discover more about this wine, his producer and also this side of Greece that for me is still unknown.

Well, and here I quote the blog Elloinos which is a very precious source of info on interesting greek wines, Apostolos Thimiopoulos is a very committed producer, who strongly believes on the potential of Xinomavro grape and the strong terroir of the area of Naoussa in the north of Greece for this grape. He has been producing only this wine, Ghi Ke Uranos (meaning "Earth and sky") starting in 2004 and during the recent years he has been very successful, notably with export to the US.

My expectations were then growing and I decided to put this wine (a 2006 vintage) towards the end of the tasting. After pouring the wine, I felt a sense of purity in the aroma, a bunch of dried flowers together with pure black fruits. An overall sense of elegance and complexity from the beginning. And then in the mouth there was an immediate match with the first sensations: complexity, structure, acidity and a very good lenght. The sensation of a real terroir wine, expression of a strong attention in the vineyard. A complex wine with a good potential for aging well.

I will be looking to find some bottles, even if the limited production and availability in Belgium will make it difficult. Most likely I will have to use my Greek network. And I start to think about paying a visit to the region to explore the world of Xinomavro grape.

1 comment:

Markus Stolz said...


thank you very much for posting this. I believe Apostolis Thimiopoulos is one of the most exciting wine growers in Greece, at the same time he is such a honest person who just loves the work he is doing. I would gladly welcome you to Athens and visit him with you. Contact me if whenever you want to take me up on this.