Tag Archives: greece

On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer and Jim’s view of Greek wine

Much have I travelled in the realms of gold

And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;

Round many western islands have I been

Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.

Oft of one wide expanse had I been told

That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne;

Yet did I never breathe its pure serene

Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:

Then felt I like some watcher of the skies

When a new planet swims into his ken;

Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes

He stared at the Pacific—and all his men

Looked at each other with a wild surmise—

Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

John Keats wrote On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer after reading Elizabethan playwright George Chapman’s translation of Homer. Although Keats was very familiar with Homer through previous translations, Chapman’s version had an enormous impact on him. He saw Homer through fresh eyes. The volta within the poem – “Then felt I like some watcher of the skies/When a new planet swims into his ken” – conveys his sense of awe at the discovery that he could transcend his role as a passive viewer of literature, and the knowledge that he, too, could create great works.

It’s a bit bonkers, but this poem came to mind during Saturday’s Decanter tasting at the Landmark Hotel, as I toured the Greek section and met up once more with Angelos Iatridis and Evangelos Gerovassiliou, whom I had visited the previous week on a tour of Hallgarten’s northern Greek estates. To say the scales fell from my eyes during my visit would be an understatement on a par with Keats’s conversion (though given that we are talking about Greece, something by Lord Byron might have been more appropriate.)

Of course, I’ve tasted them, written about them, sold them and discussed them with Steve for the last four or five years. But it is only when you go there and see what they are doing, how they are thinking, what a difference they have made, that you begin to appreciate how good they are. Ktima Alpha, Gerovassiliou, Biblia Chora, Manolesakis – all great producers. I must also get to Gaia and Monemvasia (and no doubt Steve has got another half dozen up his sleeve!)

So the scales have fallen from my eyes. Just like they did for the Cockney poet. But let’s face it, it’s a tad unlikely (just a bit!) that I’ll be able to come up with anything that matches Keats’s Melancholy, Nightingale or Grecian Urn, even with the best inspiration to hand.

Talking of which, where’s the nearest Malagousia?

Jim Wilson, Portfolio Director

Greece is the word

If you walked beyond the fountains of Granary Square, Kings Cross, on the weekend of 08 and 09 October you would have been met with an amazing array of the finest Grecian producers at London Greek Wine Festival 2017.

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Hosted by Theodore Kyriakou of The Greek Larder, we attended the festival with a range of over 30 wines from our suppliers including:

  • Domaine Gerovassiliou, led by the godfather of modern Greek wine, Evangelos Gerovassiliou, who was the original winemaker at Chateau Carras in the late 1970s where he introduced the almost extinct Malagousia grape
  • Gaia Wines, offering its wines from estates in Nemea and Santorini, the latter boasting the oldest vineyards in the world, coupled with the unique Assyrtiko grape
  • Ktima Alpha, offering wines from its pristine estate in the cool highlands of Amyndeo, northern Greece
  • Monemvasia Winery, with its range of stunning single variety and blended wines from the indigenous varieties if the Peloponnese
  • Manolesakis Estate, showcasing two original and exciting blends from the perfect microclimate in Drama, north-east Greece
  • Ktima Biblia Chora, providing visitors with two delights from its estate, one of which is the most awarded Greek white – domestically and internationally
  • Idaia Winery, equipped with a collection of wines made from indigenous grapes in Venerato, a village in the heart of the vineyards of the Malevizi district

The collection of reds, whites, indigenous blends, international blends and even a sweet wine demonstrated the remarkable improvements in the Greek wine industry over the past decade and the varying delights that Greece has to offer.

The star wine of the festival was an extraordinary bottle of Thalassitis, from Gaia Wines, which truly embodied the power of Poseidon after spending five years underwater in the bottle in the caves of Santorini.

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In addition to the sumptuous food and countless bottles on offer to try, we were able to listen to inspirational host, Olly Smith, take us through past and present Greek wine, as well as our very own Steve Daniel guide us in all things authentically Greek.

An amazing weekend, with amazing people – one not to be missed in 2017!

WOTW: Kidonitsa White PGI Laconia, Monemvasia Estate, 2015

In a nutshell: Translates as ‘little quince’ from Greek displaying intense aromas and ripe quince characters, this is one of very few single varietal Kidonitsa around

The Producer: The appellation of origin Malvasia is referred to the Byzantine city of Monemvasia whose name was also given by the Franks to its wine. The vineyards were located at Dorieon Chora the region of the countryside of Epidavros Limiras which was a favourable environment for the vineyard cultivation. The mild coastal climate in combination with the terrain made up the exceptional features which gave a unique quality to the wines of Malvasia. This is where Malvasia was made prior to the 13th century when the local traders loaded it onto the ships from the port of Monemvasia. In the Byzantine era, the economy of fortified cities such as Monemvasia was based on trade. After the 14th century, these cities gained significant privileges and traded freely in all major trading centres.

The Wine: The grapes were carefully selected. The fermentation took place with selected yeasts, in stainless steel at low temperatures of between 14 to 16°C for a period of 15 to 20 days, preserving the quince aromatics of this variety and retaining the freshness of the style.

Tasting note: Elegant aromas of tropical fruits and quince, which follow through pleasantly on to the palate, crisp with excellent balance and a fairly long finish.

Steve Daniel’s Top Greek Picks

At this week’s ‘A Taste of Greece 2016’ wine tasting in London we will be showing our entire Greek portfolio, all 32 wines.

On hand to help guide attendees through the wines will be Steve Daniel, Hallgarten’s head of buying and Greek wine expert. Steve was the first person to bring Greek wines to the UK when he was working at Oddbins in the 1980s, and he is still as passionate about the country and its wines today.

Continue reading Steve Daniel’s Top Greek Picks