© by Sheral Schowe
The Tiburon Restaurant in Sandy wasn't the only place in town celebrating Greek wines this week. I noticed several of my friends from the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church perusing the import isles at the state wine stores, buying wines for Greek Easter. The Greeks seem to have some kind of edge on the word "celebration." In fact, Greece is exactly where the first celebration of the harvest occurred.
Our wine tasting class started with the most austere of all Greek wines, Boutari Retsina ($6.15) which is a simple white wine blend, mostly from the Savatino grape variety, with a very distinctive and penetrating fragrance of pine. This is a popular wine in the Greek culture with a style that has remained virtually unchanged for 3000 years. The difference between ancient and modern Retsina is the pine resin is now added directly to the wine during the fermentation process, rather than after. It has the ability to cut through some of the oily Greek foods such as lamb, but it's not a good reflection of the fine wines available from Greece.
We evaluated two white wines. The Kourtakis Kouros White 1997 from Patras ($8.65) which is a simple white wine blend that is fruity up front with a little dried herbaceousness on the finish. The next was my favorite Greek white wine, the Lazaridi Amethystos White 1997 from Drama. ($14.75) It is a gold medal winning Sauvignon Blanc with a brilliant green-yellow color, and a complex bouquet of wood, nuts, and vanilla. It is terrific with salads, grilled, cold or poached seafood, grilled chicken, and deep fried calamari.
Although there are several red Greek wines at the state stores from which to choose, we selected three. The Boutari Nemea 1997 from Thessaloniki ($11.10) is known in the region of Nemea as "the blood of Hercules" in modern Greek culture as well as in historical references. It is strong and earthy, a good compliment to Greek food. The Kourtakis Kouros Red 1996, also from Nemea ($8.65) is made from the Argiogitiko grape. It is more lush and jammy than the Boutari, but still full of the region's earthiness. It is a great accompaniment for lamb and many Greek dishes with a cheese emphasis. The last red wine was the Lazaridi Amethystos Red 1997 from Drama ($19.50.) This is a very intense wine in both color and flavor made from the Greek grape Limnio, blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. It is another Lazaridi gold medal winner. The Bordeaux-style blend is packed full of blackberry, currant and gooseberry, with some oak influence from barrel aging.
Our dessert wine was the Cambas Samos Moschato from Samos ($9.50) There are three on the market and this one, in my opinion, is the finest quality and the most enjoyable. Serve this with baklava for the perfect Greek dessert pairing.
May 9, 2000