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Greek wines edge towards greater representation

Published:  20 May, 2022

Prices for top Santorini wines have dramatically risen to the same heights as Chablis says Mary Pateras, director of Eclectic Wines, a specialist wholesaler established 20 years ago, and which now imports about half of the Greek wines sold in Britain.

Santorini has been the trailblazer for Greek wines; its dry and steely Assyrtiko whites put the country on the world map of wine, helping transform the perception of Greek wines. But with Santorini’s wine prices rocketing over the past five years, the recent swell in demand for Greek wines made from the country’s dazzling plethora of indigenous grape varieties is spreading fast beyond the Aegean Island.

Highlighting the trend, importer Maltby & Greek has just added two new refreshing white wines made on Naxos (Santorini’s sister island) by Tranampelo, a producer that focuses production on the grape variety Potamisi.

It’s one of the grape varieties which Edward Maitland-Makgill-Crichton, winemaker at Ousyra on the island of Syros, has decided to plant as part of an expansion plan, which includes the building of a new winery. Despite the hot climatic conditions of the Cyclades archipelago, Maltby & Greek says Potamisi is able to retain optimal acidity levels.

Greek wines may never become mainstream due to the relatively low production volumes. Yet, the country’s quality wines, boosted partly by growing tourism to Greece and EU promotional funds in recent years, are increasingly edging toward greater representation.

Having made his first vintage in 2017, Maitland-Makgill-Crichton says sales have doubled each year. His ungrafted Ousyra wines, predominately the robust, mineral and saline rose made from the Fokiano grape, are now exported to 11 countries.

Over the past five years, Greek wines have been increasingly stocked and sold by independent wine merchants, retailers, and restaurants. And they’re now regularly championed by the Wine Society and multiples, including M&S, which sells wines produced by Leonidas Nassiakos, who is known in Greece as the ‘Master of Moscholfilero,” a blush, pink variety.

This year Aldi launched four new Greek wines following what it described as a ‘surge in popularity’ last year for its Aspri Petra Assyrtiko wine.

Now in his 10th year of business, Yannos Hadjioannou, owner of Maltby & Greek, which imports wines from 18 producers, says 85% of his Greek wines are sold to non-Greeks, across Britain.

Greek wines, he adds, are now also being embraced by the young chefs and owners of Turkish restaurants, which are flourishing in Britain.

While Eclectic Wines has had success in showcasing the best Greek reds made from Xinomavro in Naoussa, Macedonia in Northern Greece, producers including Ousyra on Syros are turning to the red variety Mavrodragan (Black Dragon).

Meanwhile, Mary Pateras reckons Vidiano could become Greece’s next popular white grape variety – its ageing capacity is shown resolutely in Maltby & Greek’s 2016 Dafnios, made by Douloufakis on the Island of Crete.