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Greece: white wines with precision

Purity, focus, balance and precision are hallmarks of Greece’s top-scoring dry white wines from the Decanter World Wine Awards 2020. These are the expressions that most impressed our expert DWWA judges...

Despite a warm climate, Greece is able to produce fresh, expressive white wines, in part, by taking advantage of cooling influences from the sea (as in Santorini), or exploiting cool microclimates inland. Platinum medal winner Ktima Biblia Chora typifies this, having found the perfect spot for an organic vineyard on the slopes of Mount Pangeon in Macedonia.


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This ability to retain freshness and precision was evident at the 2020 Decanter World Wine Awards, where mouth-watering acidity, minerality and a very long finish are recurring descriptors for Greece’s top-scoring white wines. While the Assyrtiko grape largely dominates the list, blends with indigenous varieties including Malagousia and Kydonitsa, varietal Vidiano and Viognier also grabbed the judges’ attention.

The Best in Show

Estate Argyros, Cuvée Evdemon, Santorini, Aegean Islands 2016

Best in Show, 97 points
£42.28 Lay & Wheeler
The 2020 edition of our competition was great for wines from some of Europe’s key locations, one of which was Santorini: our judges spent a long time tussling over an outstanding range of Gold and Platinum winners from this extraordinary island. In the end, this grand and now mature wine was the one that triumphed. Of course, it showcases the pungent aromas and intense lemony flavours of the Assyrtiko variety, but in its faintly salty flavours and the striking balance between freshness and what can only be described as a succulent, almost oily ‘mineral’ richness, it takes the island’s winemaking to new heights. Alcohol 14%

Santorini sits on an active volcano, with extremely young and infertile soils, with almost no potassium or clay. ‘This last characteristic makes Santorini not just phylloxera-free but phylloxera-immune, meaning that the bug will never invade the island,’ says Matthew Argyros, owner of Estate Argyros. ‘Cuvée Evdemon is flirting with the boundaries of our understanding of the Santorini environment,’ he says. The grapes come from an Assyrtiko vineyard that is at least 150 years old, is farmed biodynamically and delivers extremely low yields. The wine, aged for about 30 months in stainless steel, with one quarter of the blend spending 12 months in French oak barriques, ‘focuses on palate structure’, Argyros explains. ‘It needs several years in the bottle to open up and will reward cellaring for up to 15 years.’


Santorini

Estate Argyros, Cuvée Monsignori 2018

   Platinum, 97 points
£37.95 Philgas & Swiggot
Expressive wild rose, melon and floral aromatics. Lovely balance of citrussy flavours, delivering very well now with oregano and green tea nuances. Amazing precision and length. Alc 14%

Volcanic Slopes Vineyards, Pure 2017

Platinum, 97 points
POA Clark Foyster
Expressive nose displaying intense volcanic minerality, lemon balm and sea breeze. Fresh, juicy and steely palate with precise fresh lemon, salty minerality and wonderful texture. Alc 14%

Gavalas 2019

Gold, 96 points
£30-£31.49 Borders Wines, Corelli Wine, Kudos Wines
Honeysuckle and green apple bouquet. Showcasing place and variety brilliantly, this is mineral on the palate with crisp acidity, nice purity, focus and a touch of stone fruit. Shellfish please. Alc 13.5%

Venetsanos 2018

Gold, 96 points
£34.50 Cava Spiliadis
Gorgeous preserved lemon, lemon balm and sea breeze bouquet. The palate has tension and salinity, positively quivering with freshness. Layered and complex with a long finish. Alc 13%

Boutari, Assyrtiko 2019

Gold, 95 points
£16.99 Aspris & Son
Refined floral, pear and peach bouquet. Crisp and clean palate with wonderful purity, salinity, freshness and brisk acidity. The long, mouthwatering finish leaves the mouth squeaky clean. Alc 13%

Santo Wines, Nykteri 2018

Gold, 95 points
£23.50 Maltby & Greek
Gorgeous lemon balm, beeswax and seaweed bouquet. Concentrated and complex in the mouth with laser-like acidity cutting through the creamy, textured mid-palate. Alc 14%

Artemis Karamolegos, Pyritis Mega Cuvée 2018

Silver, 94 points
£49 Amathus Drinks
Delicately floral with grapefruit rind, seaweed and beeswax nuances. Precise on the palate with mouthwatering acidity and plenty of citrus fruit. Alc 14.3%

Gavalas, Natural Ferment 2019

Silver, 94 points
£34 Corelli Wine, Kudos Wines
Volcanic and flinty nose. It’s juicy and fresh in the mouth with citrussy acidity and a mid-palate that’s creamy and leesy. This wine has a gorgeous chalky texture. Alc 13.5%

Tselepos-Canava Chrissou, Nykteri 2018

Silver, 94 points
N/A UK www.tselepos.gr
Smoky, lemon balm and cardamom scents. Juicy palate with brisk acidity, a core of kumquat, lemons and a very long finish. Alc 14.5%

Venetsanos, Nykteri 2018

Silver, 94 points
£39 Cava Spiliadis
Lemon, apricot kernel and Mirabelle plum nose. Concentrated and linear on the palate with very precise, mouthpuckering acidity and fantastic chalky texture. A herbal finish. Alc 14%

Macedonia

Ktima Biblia Chora, Ovilos, Pangeon 2019

Platinum, 97 points
£25.95-£31.40 Available at independent merchants via Hallgarten Wines
Expressive beeswax and lemon blossom. Complex palate of citrus fruits, mango and kumquat. Will get even better. Alc 13.5%

Ktima Gerovassiliou, Epanomi 2019

Gold, 96 points
£16-£17.49 Available at independent merchants via Hallgarten Wines
The nose shows smoky minerality and floral, spicy and lemon blossom notes. Crisp palate with a fantastic salty tang and creamy texture. Alc 13.5%

Ktima Dyo Ipsi, Dialogos Kydonitsa-Assyrtiko, Peloponnese 2019

Gold, 96 points
N/A UK www.bibliachora.gr
Beautiful, breezy citrus blossom and quince bouquet. Sappy fruit on the palate, with a savoury salty edge, followed by a lemon peel finish. Alc 14%

Oenops, Vidiano, Crete 2018

Gold, 96 points
POA Clark Foyster
Focused and distinguished roasted nut, peach, honey and vanilla scents. Exuberant, fleshy fruit in the mouth, finishing long. A textbook expression, very classy indeed. Alc 13%

Ktima Gerovassiliou, Viognier, Epanomi 2018

Gold, 95 points
£17-£22 Available at independent merchants via Hallgarten Wines
Alluring honeysuckle, peach and nutmeg bouquet. The palate is round and rich but the ripe peach and spiced pear fruit is balanced by refreshing acidity. Alc 14%


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