Celebrating International Syrah Day with Greek Labels

All wines get a holiday and February 16th is International Syrah Day, when wine enthusiasts worldwide celebrate Syrah, a red wine also named Shiraz- as it’s more commonly known in Australia.

The grapes are known for their deep red colour and small size. They can be round but have also been referred to as egg-shaped. Syrah has a short ripening period. When grown in the Old World it tends to be spicier, less fruit-forward, earthier, and more tannic. In New World, where it is also known as Shiraz, it tends to be “larger”, “bolder” and “jammier”, with less spice.

Syrah managed to spread to the Greek vineyard, in a relatively short time, producing wines of very high quality. This is no coincidence for producers, as Syrah is considered to thrive in the warm climatic conditions of Greece.

Greek Syrah is very close to the style of its New World counterpart, displaying a high alcoholic degree, prolonged extraction, dense structure, strong tannins, moderate acidity and sweets, and ripe aromas of black fruits and spices. It has the potential to age for many years and is often mixed with other international and local varieties; and gives very qualitative wines.

Below we will review five Greek labels that represent a range of styles and prices to suit every taste and budget.

Insights Greece - Celebrating International Syrah Day with Greek Labels
Collection by Avantis Estate

Courtesy of Avantis Estate
Mytikas Evia

A scarce Syrah, as the production does not exceed 1,000 bottles per year. The yield per hectare ranges from 300 -350 kilos. It’s a soft, graceful wine that offers a bouquet and palate marked by dark cherry, plum, dark chocolate, and a smidge of espresso. The acidity is balanced with the delicious fruit and the tannins are intact, leaving ample room for each to develop and flourish in an elegant finish. If there was a pedestal, surely one place would belong to the Collection. It is certainly up for the challenge of grilled roasted meat, hunt stewed red and hard yellow aged cheese.

Insights Greece - Celebrating International Syrah Day with Greek Labels
Oenotria by Domaine Costa Lazaridi

Oenotria Land
Courtesy of Domaine Costa Lazaridi
Kapandriti – Athens

This wine is dominated by Syrah (90%) with Agiorgitiko adding background notes.
The small area yield (approximately 250kg per acre) gives enormous condensation to all levels of the wine.
Intense and complex aromas of cherry, plum, vanilla, fig and chocolate.
It has a rich flavor with balanced acidity and silky tannins while its finish is a very long intersession with notes of vanilla.
It’s sure to add charm to a dinner, especially when paired with a beef fillet as well as with red-grilled meats. 

Insights Greece - Celebrating International Syrah Day with Greek Labels
The Naked King by Pieria Winery

The Naked King
Courtesy of Pieria Eratini Winery
Kolindros – Pieria

Looking for a rich Syrah wine but you can’t afford to wait for it to evolve over the years? Then check out this classic, well-made wine from Pieria in Northern Greece. A blend of 85% Syrah and 15% of the rare local variety Kolindrino. The name Naked King may be very original, but the wine is not characterized by nakedness as it wears armor of condensation and exuberance. The Naked King brings to our glass intense aromas of dried fruits, fresh framboise, cassis and cranberry while sweet spices and notes of the barrel complete its complex and charming palette. Mouth saturating, very well structured and balanced. Made for rich dishes of red meat. It’s also sure to impress with foie gras.

Insights Greece - Celebrating International Syrah Day with Greek Labels
Emphasis by Pavlidis Estate

Courtesy of Pavlidis Estate
Kokinogeia – Drama

If you are looking for a solid, typical expression of Syrah variety, Emphasis is a perfect pick. It offers a bouquet and a palate of black fruits leather, thyme, black pepper, chocolate, and vanilla. High acidity, velvety tannins, long, spicy aftertaste. You’ll also appreciate that it’s easy to find and a sure shot with red fatty meats with spicy sauces or roasted lamb. So … Emphasis on Syrah!

Manousakis Winery
Vatolakkos – Chania

Insights Greece - Celebrating International Syrah Day with Greek Labels
Nostos by Manousakis Winery

Nostos is a theme used in Ancient Greek literature that refers to an epic hero returning home by the sea. The return isn’t just about returning home physically but also about retaining the very virtues and qualities that characterized him before he went away.
In this particular case, we have a strong and robust Syrah from the beautiful island of Crete. Its bold tannins are a good asset for long-term aging. It has an oriented personality of red and black fruits with black pepper notes. A rich must try Greek Syrah. Give it a go with grilled meats or meats with tomato-based sauces and a variety of sausages.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. By the way, what’s your favourite Greek Syrah wine?

Feel free to share some of your own great wine picks … 

For more wonderful wine explorations, follow George on Instagram @george.winestories

Celebrating International Cabernet Franc Day With Greek Labels

Cabernet Franc Day, celebrated on December 4th each year, is an international wine day dedicated to this particular variety. Cabernet Franc is one of the major black grape varieties grown worldwide and finds itself within the top three (black) grape varieties used in wine production. 

Cabernet Franc grapes are mainly grown to be blended with the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in a Bordeaux style and can also be vinified alone. 

It’s usually in the shadow of the iconic Cabernet Sauvignon, while many tend to liken it to Sauvignon’s feminine side. It makes a bright pale red wine that contributes finesse and lends a spicy aroma that blends with more robust grapes.

Cabernet Franc is believed to have been cultivated originally in the Libournais region of southwest France sometime during the 17th Century, although recent research shows Spain as the country of origin; and in particular the Pais Vasco region near the border of France.

Cabernet Franc is cultivated in Greece too and is found in single varietal vinifications and blends. Below we check out four prime Greek labels. Two single variety and two blends.

Opus IB | Domaine Hatzimichalis

Insights Greece - Celebrating International Cabernet Franc Day With Greek Labels
Opus IB

The ethereal character of Cabernet Franc is clearly reflected in this rare bottling by Hatzimichalis Estate winery in the Valley of Atalanti in central Greece. Many consider the 2004 vintage as the top Greek red label ever released.

Whoever is lucky enough to get his lips on a glass containing this label should make sure to accompany it with a prominent recipe of red meat in order to enjoy a unique gastronomic experience.

Cava Amethystos | Domaine Costa Lazaridi

Insights Greece - Celebrating International Cabernet Franc Day With Greek Labels

A robust wine, dense and hedonic that can be enjoyed fresh at the current vintage of release but will reward those who decide to age it, with very special moments of pleasure. An authentic, high-level expression of Cabernet Franc.

A special wine for special moments. It would pair well with a plate of slow-cooked game accompanied with a wine sauce.

Synoro | Domaine Skouras

Insights Greece - Celebrating International Cabernet Franc Day With Greek Labels

Synoro means Border and its name comes from the bordering estates that are also depicted on the label. A blend of 40% Cabernet Franc, 40% Merlot, 20% Agiorgitiko.

A rich and at the same time elegant wine whose complex character seeks the complexity of slow cooking. Try it with wild boar cooked along with hot spices in the pot.

Magic Mountain | Nico Lazaridi Winery

Insights Greece - Celebrating International Cabernet Franc Day With Greek Labels
Magico Vouno

An emblematic label of this Greek vineyard. It was one of the first if not the first premium label to be released in Greece in the late 1980s. A blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Cabernet Franc.

The Magic Mountain from Nico Lazaridi is proof of the fact that classics are forever and favourites are for sometimes. 

Pairs very well with slow-braised veal or a porterhouse steak. 

Happy International Cabernet Franc Day to all you wine lovers out there!