Thursday 22 February 2018

Best cellars A Greek odyssey

We've gone Greek this week in celebration of the Athens Olympics, which began at the weekend.

Sadly, it has to be said that Greek wines have never done well in Ireland - Irish Distillers had a go with Boutari a couple or so years ago, but met considerable consumer resistance, so withdrew gracefully.

Perhaps it's the fact that no one can pronounce the names of the grape varieties, or even recognise them - Moschofilero, Xinomavro, Agiorgitiko or Negoska don't roll off the tongue quite as fluently as Chardonnay, Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon.

Now the German supermarket chain Aldi has taken up the Greek wine torch and reintroduced a range of reasonably priced Boutari-made wines.

If your only experience of Greek wines to date has been the turpentine-like retsina that waiters in holiday tavernas exhort you to buy - and this is an acquired taste if ever there was one - these four wines from Boutari, one of Greece's largest wine producers, will open your eyes.

All are made with the almost universal modern consumer demand for bright floral and fruit aromas and juicy, ripe berry flavours in mind.

They are all available at Aldi stores around Ireland.

Boutari Mantinia 2003. ?5.99.

This is the most popular white wine in Greece, and it's easy to see why. The Moscofilero grape is wonderfully aromatic, and this unoaked delivers punchy lemon citrus notes with lots of crisp orchard fruit on the palate and nice acidity.

Boutari Goumenissa 2000. ?5.99.

This one, made from an attractive blend of Xinomavro and Negoska grapes, has an attractive bright cherry colour, and there are wafts of peppery fresh cherry fruit on the nose. The palate is predominantly ripe black cherry in flavour, and the finish has hints of Shiraz-like spice and chocolate.

Boutari Nemea 2000. ?5.99

The Nemea AOC region of southern Greece is famous for the red Agiorgitiko variety. Deep ruby red in colour, this is a lovely soft, supple and easy-drinking wine with a nice plummy nose and ripe berry flavours in the mouth. The finish is quite long, and this should age quite well in the bottle.

Boutari Naoussa 2000. ?5.99

The Xinomavro is called the king of northern Greek varieties, so widely planted it's simply called Mavro Naoussis, black of Naoussa. It is much lighter than the other two reds both in colour and body, but it has an attractive fruity aroma and plenty of ripe red cherry fruit on the palate with a touch of spice on the finish.

Myles McWeeney

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