18 April 2012

2009 Κτήμα Σιγάλας Καβαλιέρος

Has it really been two years since my last Greek wine? It doesn't seem that long, but at times like this the blog serves its original function as an easy way to access my wine notes. Though in 2005 there was no iPhone, and I still don't have a smart phone, and thus have never accessed my own website in a restaurant or wine shop. Of course, I'd prefer to rely on personal experience and/or the knowledge of the salesperson. I reckon I could print out the whole blog into a series of 3-ring binders and push the Bencyclopedia of Wine around in a squeaky shopping cart.

When it comes to Greek wine, I think the grape with the best breakout potential is Assyrtiko. It's a delicious white grape that's not like Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc but is approachable and affordable. This is a higher end bottle, though many can be found in the $15 range. Domaine Sigalas on the island of Santorini is relatively young (formed in 1991), but the vines are much older and the label bears the minimalist drawing of Kir Giorgos, a man who tended the vines for over fifty years. In fact, he named this particular vineyard Kavalieros because "it dominates all the others like a cavalryman". (Cavalry officer/cavalier/caballero/der Kavalier/chivalry/etc. Armed men on horses and the virtues/attitudes associated with them.) The name Kavalieros is an odd example of Romance language leaking into Greek rather than the usual opposite direction. The ancient Greek ἱππεῖς or Hippeis is probably closer, though you could split hairs and use ἑταῖροι/hetairoi.

2009 Domaine Sigalas Kavalieros Single Vineyard
Santorini, Greece
100% Assyrtiko
$40, 14% abv.
Tart with a citrus nose tinged with a touch of ash and an earthy, dusky undertone. Bright acidity and tiny bubbles, a crisp lemon presence with a sharp finish that lingers for quite some time, yet there's still that bass line that keeps it so substantial and interesting. I'd love to see this after a few years of aging.

I got to open this bottle on Orthodox Easter, and while a whole roasted lamb and some red-dyed eggs would have been appropriate, I went in a different direction. Here I had a foreign visitor that had traveled 9500 km/6000 miles to reach my table, and I served some homemade local food of the season. Cornbread muffins stuffed with aged cheddar, sliced tomatoes, deviled eggs with a bit of hot pickled okra, fresh bicolor corn with butter, chili pepper, and lime, and a bit of smoked sausage with sauerkraut. The wine was particularly wonderful with the deviled eggs, which is maybe not the best Easter connection, but the savory/salty/tangy worked really well with this style of wine.

For those of you on the edge who still think of Greek wine as weird or full of pine tar... stop and smell the Roditis. You're just cheating yourself out of six thousand years of wine history and missing some fascinating bottles.


Note: This wine was received as a sample.

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