Athens local George Kormaniotis was introduced to wines in 2007 while working for a company that traded alcohol. At the time, George came across a wide variety of good Greek wines that made him curious to learn more.
Since then he has spent time market researching, blind tasting, trying new labels, and exchanging ideas and opinions with other fellow wine enthusiasts.
Although George currently works in the pharmaceutical industry, in his spare time he’s made it his mission to change people’s perceptions of Greek wines- both locally and overseas.
It may come as a surprise to some, but Greek wine has made a name for itself on a global scale over the past few decades. As the country has embraced its rich, seasonal varieties that are available internationally.
Let’s not forget, Greece is one of the world’s most ancient viticultural locations, with references to drinking and cultivation appearing in literature and historical texts as early as the 17th Century B.C.
Here, George tells us about a few of his favourite Greek wineries and blends. And in a new monthly column, George will be sharing a range of distinguished, as well as up-and-coming Greek varieties, regions, wineries and wine bars he believes are leading the way.
Can you tell us a few of the stand out wineries you have visited in Greece?
To start off with, I would recommend the Argyros, Gavalas and Vassaltis wineries in Santorini. Also Kir Yianni, Diamantakos, and Dalamaras in Naoussa, Macedonia. Finally, Oinotria Gi by Costas Lazarides, Pappagianakos and Gikas wineries stand out in the outskirts of Athens, Attica.
Do you prefer red or white wine?
I mostly enjoy red wine. That’s because the taste and flavours better accompany Greek cuisine.
What is your wine collection like at home?
I keep a collection of 200 to 250 labels with a ratio of 75/25 per cent between Greek and foreign labels respectively.
What do you think people would find most surprising about Greek wine?
Assyrtiko variety of white wines from Santorini features one of the rarest flavours one can ever taste. The volcanic land of Santorini gives its wines a rare aftertaste of sea saltiness and earthly “minerality”.
Moreover, Xinomavro variety from Western Macedonia competes with the famous Italian “Barolo” wines in terms of ageing potential, which can go up to 20 years of age.
Do you have a few current favourites?
First, the “Santorini Argyros” label from Santorini is a typical representative of the island’s famous “Assyrtiko” variety.
Second, “Cava Amethystos” by Domaine Costa Lazaridi is a 100% cabernet franc from the Drama territory in eastern Macedonia- whose production I have followed for several years now and it soars at considerably high standards.
Kir Yianni “Diaporos” label, a blend of 85% xinomavro and 15% syrah varieties is a wine that is ranked among the best premium Greek labels from its first year of sales.
Finally, “Vinsanto Argyros” aged 12 years from Santorini, is a sweet wine that distinguishes itself each year in every international competition it participates in always gaining recognition as one of the top three.
Can you recommend some good wine bars in Athens?
I enjoy hanging out at the following wine bars in the Greek capital-
1. Oinoscent, located five minutes from Syntagma Square.
2. Materia Prima, in Pagrati.
3. Wine Point, near the Acropolis Museum.
You can follow George on his Instagram account @george.winestories and stay tuned, as George will be sharing his passion, knowledge and exploration of Greek wines with IN+SIGHTS GREECE readers right here, in a new monthly column dedicated to all things wine!
Main image courtesy of Oinoscent