Cori Solomon, organizer of #LAWineWriters, recently arranged for our group to meet with Thrass Giantsidis of Greece’s renowned Ktima Gerovassillou all-estate winery. The plan: To boldly go where…wait…to be led through a tasting of his highly-awarded wines along with some small plates at Downtown LA’s Ledlow restaurant.
I did a little research on Ktima Gerovassiliou before the luncheon, and besides learning that they make a wide range of whites (including a Viognier) and reds (hoping to try the Syrah), the winemaker Vangelis Gerovassiliou has created a Wine Museum at the winery filled with all types of tools used in viticulture…including an impressive collection of corkscrews. I was starting to look forward to tasting and learning more.
Greek Wine Lesson
Giantsidis began by explaining a little about the range of climates in Greece. Some vineyards that are close to the sea are in the Mediterranean region (Ktima Gerovassiliou is in this group) while some regions are warm. The land “is mountainous” with 66,000k hectares growing vitis vinifera. However, there are more table grapes than wine grapes being cultivated. It’s just a small portion (3.9 million hectares) of the whole of Greece that is devoted to grape cultivation. And there are more than 300 species of their own native grapes made into wine. (Note: 2.5 acres is equal to 1 hectare.)
Winemaker Vangelis Gerovassiliou saved the Malagousia grape from extinction. It is known for its aromatics. 50% of this grape is in their Estate White blend.
Vangelis Gerovassiliou was with Greece’s Porto Carras for decades.
Domaine Gerovassiliou has 63 hectares of estate grapes.
These wines, a little costlier than other Greek imports, are a quality we may have not yet seen.
The estate is sustainable and all work is done by hand.
A majority of the Greek wineries use indigenous grapes.
All wines have received “lots of distinctions”, according to Giantsidis, and the entire portfolio is estate grown.
The average person visits historical sites such as Athens, however, the wines of Greece are not found in the normal tourist spots.
The North is more red producing while the South makes more white.
Greek Tasting (As usual my notes on aroma and flavor are divided by “;”)
2014 Estate White
Malagousia an Assyrtico
Limeade, pear, Meyer lemon, jasmine, steely; white peach, lemon-lime, lovely mouth-feel, medium acid. Wanted a chilled seafood salad with this. 90 Eve pts.
2014 100% Malagousia
White peach, pears in light syrup, pink grapefruit, reminds me of a Viognier on the nose, honey; mouthfeel, again a medium acid, more lemon, grapefruit, more Sauvignon Blanc on the palate. (This wine had some time in “seasoned oak” which meant that the barrel had been “seasoned” by being filled with wine before. What is also referred to as “neutral” oak. Both distinctions mean that the wine will not have any predominate oak characteristics.) 90 Eve pts.
2013 Fume Sauvignon Blanc
(As this had some time with oak that’s why the word “Fume” is used in its name.) Bruised golden delicious apples, honey, white honeysuckle flowers, toast; fruit cocktail, lemon hard candy, medium acid again and a nice mouthfeel, again. 89 Eve pts.
(most planted of the foreign varietals in Greece.) About 800 cases per year. Lemon butter, oak, perfumy, white pepper; toasted oak, cream, lemon. 88 Eve pts.
Color – golden yellow – that is indicative of some age. Can you say HONEY, wow, I sure could! Smells like a late harvest wine with cling peaches also on the nose; not as sweet on the palate as it is in the aroma, with citrus, tang, stainless steel, medium-high acid. 88 Eve pts.
2010 Estate Red Blend
Syrah, Merlot and Limnio
Dusty, black fruit, black cherry, mushroom, velvety, milk chocolate, pepper; nice tannin structure, my whole tongue wanted more, blueberry, blackberry. 90 Eve pts.
Limnio, Mavroudi and Mavrotragano
The wine’s name, Avaton, means “inaccessible and impossible to reach.” This was the first wine that they made with indigenous Greek wines. Also to know, the word Mavro means black. Stewed plums, dried cherry, clove, tri-color peppercorns, mulled wine, charred steak; dark and dry fruit, balance is dead on even with extra firm tannin, oak, same black fruit. Need charred steak to have with this. 90 Eve pts.
Petite Sirah, 92%, the balance is Viognier. Malolactic fermentation, and some oak – 15 months. Gerovassillou explained that the Viognier stabilizes the color and makes it a “feminine wine” style. The whole barn is in your glass! It was rich, thick, earthy, gamey, minty, and with a hint of chocolate covered berries; more youthful on the palate than expected, red to black fruit, spice, tannic, dry. 92 pts.
2009 Late Harvest Malagousia
Caramel covered apple, peaches in heavy syrup, white pepper, Monet’s Garden; huge mouthfeel, lovely long finish, potpourri, and local honey. 91 Eve pts.
About Ktima Gerovassillou
From the website: Deep knowledge and use of up-to-date technology combined with more traditional and conventional wine-making methods lead to the production of high-quality wines with distinct micro-climate (terroir) characteristics. All Ktima Gerovassiliou wines are produced from grapes cultivated in the privately-owned vineyard. Every year the Gerovassiliou wines gain significant international distinctions for their high and consistent quality. 30% of Ktima’s production is exported to other European countries, the USA, Canada, Japan, Brazil, Australia and Singapore… The efforts of Vangelis Gerovassiliou and his partners’ along with the high and consistent quality of Gerovassiliou wines are recognized with European and global distinctions. Ktima Gerovassiliou is included in the 100 top wineries for six years, Vangelis Gerovassiliou is among the six best wine-producers worldwide and the Gerovassiliou wines receive every year very important distinctions.
Eve Bushman has been reading, writing, taking coursework and tasting wine for over 20 years. She has obtained a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, has been the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and recently served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits that may be answered in a future column. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com