Image credit: Chatzivaritis Estate
Greek wine producers have been doing a lot of late to develop their image within the Australian market. The New Wines of Greece Roadshow is becoming an annual fixture in the industry calendar and there seem to be increasing numbers of tastings showcasing wines from Greece throughout the year. Most recently I attend a tasting of wines from the Chatzivaritis Estate during a lunch at Elyros Restaurant in Melbourne and fortunately for this non-Greek speaker, Chatzivaritis was the only word I couldn’t have a crack at pronouncing and that brings me to the reason for this post.
The wines have stayed in my mind since the tasting a couple of weeks ago. What struck me about this producer, in addition to the wines themselves, was the clever marketing they have employed. The labels are designed such that each wine shares a distinctive geometric theme making it easy to spot a bottle of wine from Chatzivaritis Estate at a distance or in a line-up. But most importantly to me – someone who is excited to drink Greek wines and share them with my clients – is that I can actually pronounce the name of each wine in the portfolio.
When I raise this with owner Evangelos Chatzivarytis he laughs and tells me that wasn’t always the plan. Understandably he had wanted to use the grape varieties much more prominently on the label. However, he was persuaded to go with a personal touch and create names, which happen to be in English, for each of the wines. While I would love to be a polyglot I only have English and rudimentary Spanish in my language toolbox. The pronunciation of French presents a veritable mine field to navigate and a source of endless entertainment for those around me, not to mention German wines labels and so Greek pronunciation leaves me unsure of even where to begin.
First however, I must be clear – I am not advocating the changing of Greek grape variety names to address my linguistic shortcomings but what Chatzivaritis Estate have done well is find a compromise. While remaining true to the rich heritage of the wines, the names of the wines facilitates English speakers asking for these wines confidently.
Fortunately, the wines of Chatzivaritis Estate are also rather delicious. Eight wines were tasted and the style was characterised by an attractive restraint on the palate making them highly drinkable. So with names like “Vaggeli are you listening”, “Chloe” and “Mosaic red” there is no problem for we English speakers asking for them and ask for them you should indeed – they will not disappoint!
Mosaic Dry White Wine 2016 (Roditis, Sauvignon Blanc, Assyrtiko)
The nose on this reminds me a little of a Gewürztraminer with its floral, spice and stone fruit aromas. There is a medium weight on the palate and a slightly oily texture to the wine again reminiscent of a Gewürz. The acidity is fresh with green pear and a touch of cut grass joining the floral, spice and stone fruit characters on the palate.
Vaggeli Are You Listening White Wine 2016 (Sauvignon Blanc 60%, Assyrtiko 40%)
Fresh green pear, floral notes of rose and white flowers, stone fruit. Elegant texture on the palate, medium weight with balanced acidity and fresh lemon joining the pear, floral and stone fruit notes with a touch of blackcurrant leaf on the back palate.
Orosimo White Wine 2015 (Xinomavro, Roditis)
Leads with green fruit on the nose, which follows through to the palate to be joined by mineral notes reminding me of chalk. It is very linear in style with fresh acidity and a delicacy to the structure. The mineral flavours form the core of the palate around which sit the green fruit and citrus flavours.
20% of this wine was barrel fermented and this is expressed in a fuller, rounder structure to the wine. There is pear and ripe stone fruit on the palate with citrus and herbaceous notes on the back palate.
Chloé rosé 2016 (Xinomavro, Cabernet Sauvignon)
A mesmerising deep salmon colour with hues of orange blush. Peaches and cream on the nose with a touch of spun sugar. This was served with Kalitsounia, which are Cretan cheese pies, and unbelievably addictive. The match to the rosé was very good particularly with the crisp acidity of the wine cutting through the delicious richness of the cheese.
Mosaic Red 2015 (Xinomavro, Negoska, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot)
Very attractive restraint on the palate. This is a medium weight wine with lots of red berries and spice, crisp acidity and finely textured tannins. This is a super drinkable wine that would could easily be served lightly chilled.
Xinomavro Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
The notes of development on the wine were perfectly matched to the roast lamb this was paired with. Aromas of leather, earth, dried tobacco, dried red berries, dried fig and a hint of dried rose petals followed through on to the palate. Medium bodied still with fresh acidity and a touch of liquorice on the back palate in a long finish.
Goumenissa 2013 (Xinomavro 70%, Negoska 30%)
2013 was a warm year and this wine was the most powerful in structure of those tasted. It started with very savoury notes of mushroom, master stock and soy sauce before showing fruits. On the palate the fruits were at the fore with bolder tannins and more palate weight than the previous red wines tasted.