Gaga for Greece

Free tasting | Saturday, August 31, 2019 | 4-6PM

(Note: Our tasting on Saturday has little to do with Gaga, except we love Gaga AND Greek wine.)

After pouring over dozens of articles as well as The World Atlas of Wine and The Oxford Companion to Wine, I am even further from stating that Greece is making a comeback, further from summarizing its complex history, and further from describing its evolving modern wine industry than before I began researching. Greece is complicated, man. I am, however, only more wholly convinced that Greece is, by far, one of, if not the most, resilient wine cultures of modern and ancient viticulture history. 

Today, Greek wine is all the rage. We love it, Eric Asimov loves it, hipster sommeliers love it, and our Retsina slugging Greek customers love it. However, we somehow still overlook it - we should all be drinking more Greek! Since the 1960’s Greece has been making a modern-day ‘comeback,’ specifically post 1985 when experienced, mostly French-trained, agronomists and oenologists, landed in Greece and aided Greece’s failing wine industry. Over time, wine infrastructure strengthened through the investments of new cellars, plantings, and re-plantings of new and old vineyards. Indigenous Greek grape varieties (of which there are over 200) became more ubiquitous through prevalent publications and research. An influx of funds from the EU funneling into Greek banks helped strengthen the wine industry, and bountiful cheap land was purchased by young and ambitious winemakers. 

Unified in 1830, Greece is made up of over 3000 islands, and some of these Mediterranean utopian isles are the ‘real-deal’ for wine growing.  Vineyards thrive in long, dry summers, and short, mild winters, and ample sunshine abounds throughout the coastal climates atop mountainous countryside. Konstantinos Lazarakis summarizes in The Wines of Greece, “[…] Terroir, in Greece, goes far beyond soil-types and weather conditions – it emanates from the culture of the country and the spirit of a people whose ancestors even had a god for wine.” Made since the 7th century BC, wine continues to be imperative to Greek society, and it’s impossible to separate Greek culture from wine. Wine is the epicenter of Greek culture. As stated in The World Atlas of Wine, “The modern winescape of Greece is even more exciting than most because it holds such potential for going backwards as well as forwards in time.” Greece’s history is what shapes it’s future winescape. 

In the early days, ancient Greeks, such as the Babylonians, made and drank wine, but for them it was a luxury, so instead they drank beer, a commodity that was scoffed at by ancient Greek critics. Even further wine snobbery in ancient times was evident, as affirmed in The Oxford Companion to Wine, “Complete ignorance of viticulture was the mark of savages; so too was the drinking of undiluted wine, which was associated with northern barbarians such as the Scythians.” Greeks typically added water to wine before it was served, even if an abhorrent ‘mark of ignorance,’ and also added various flavorings, such as spices, honey, and herbs, as well as pine resin, which is still used today to make a white wine style called retsina. The scale of Greek wine trade is evident from widespread archeological findings such as wine-stained amphorae vases and literary evidence specifically from the poetry of Homer and Heoid. Even Athenaeus mentions the hazards of consuming wine to excess and included hangover remedies in a volume of his epic Deipnosophistae (‘Dinner Table Philosophers’). 

One of the twelve major Greek deities was Dionysus (Bacchus to the Romans), the God of Wine. Let’s raise a glass to Dionysus and ‘Greek’ out on Saturday, August 31stfrom 4-6PM. Yamas! Cheers!

Gaga for Greece Line-up:


2017 Sant'Or 'Krasis'

Who: Panagiotis Dimitropoulos

What: Mavrodafni 

Where: Pelponnese, Greece

How: This was fermented with indigenous yeasts before being aged in old French oak barrels for 6 months.

Farming Method: Biodynamic

Fun Fact: The grape, Mavrodafni, literally translates into 'black laurel'.

Tasting Notes:This is THE pairing with lamb. Full-bodied with notes of earth, stewed plums, and pomegranates.


2018 Troupis Moschofilero 'Hoof & Lur'

Who: The Troupis family

What: Moschofilero

Where: Pelponnese, Greece

How: After fermentation this is aged on its lees for 3 months in tank.

Farming Method: Organic practices

Fun Fact: Greece has about 70% mountainous terrain and 20% of the country is islands.

Tasting Notes: Lively acidity with notes of blood oranges and an aroma of a fresh bouquet of flowers.


2016 Sclavos 'Alchymiste'

Who: Evriviadis Sclavos 

What: A blend of Vostilidi, Moschatela, Tsaousi, and Zakynthino

Where: Kefalonia, Greece

How: This blend is fermented and aged in stainless steel.

Farming Method: Biodynamic

Fun Fact: Today there are about 600 wineries in Greece.

Tasting Notes: A full-bodied white with notes of salt and smoke. Delicious and unusual.


2018 Garalis, Terra Ambera 

Who: Manolis Garalis is a 3rd generation wine grower. He launched his own winery in 2006 and released his first wines in 2007. 

What: 100% Muscat of Alexandria

Where: Manolis cultivates Lemnos island’s Limnio and Muscat of Alexandria grapes on 5 hectares of organic property. 

How: Stainless steel (7 days with skins), mild temperature control at 21°C, undergoes malolactic fermentation. Bottled unfined and unfiltered with minimal added sulphites.

Farming Method: Organic (certified)

Fun Fact: Terra Ambera refers to the orange sulphuric volcanic soil of Lemnos island.

What It Tastes Like: Classic aromatic and grape-y nose, with slight oxidative nuances, and a round and sharp palate. Summery notes of lime, Starburst, and Fruity Pebbles! 


2018 Garalis, Lemnos Roséus 

Who: Manolis Garalis

What: Blend of Muscat of Alexandria with a touch of Limnio grape. 

Where: Lemnos island (Aegean islands)

How: Native yeasts, minimal filtration, 5 months in stainless steel.

Farming Method: Organic (certified)

Fun Fact: The altitude of the Muscat of Alexandria vines are planted at 150 meters above sea level, and the Muscat vine ages back to 1972. 

What It Tastes Like: Hibiscus tea meets watermelon Jolly Rancher. 


2017 Thymiopoulos Young Vines Xinomavro 

Who: Apostolos Thymiopoulos

What: Xinomavro 

Where: Macedonia, Greece

How: Aged for 12 months in 500 liter French oak barrels

Farming Method: Biodynamic

Fun Fact: The grape Xinomavro is pronounced ksee-NOH-mah-vro!

What It Tastes Like: Nice tannins with notes of black tea and black currants.