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Tselepos – Leading Greece’s wine renaissance

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Discover the treasures of Tselepos’ three wineries, which champion indigenous grape varieties across different, equally iconic, Greek regions

In the beguiling landscape of the Hellenic Republic, an ongoing revolution is reshaping our expectations of Greek wine. Nowhere is this more evident than in the vineyards of the Peloponnese, a region that has seen more innovation and excitement than any other part of Greece in recent years.

Terroir and talent

Tselepos Wines has become a poster-child for this viticultural renaissance.  Founded in 1989 by Yannis and Amalia Tselepos, the company owns three wineries in three of the country’s leading PDO appellations: Mantinia, Nemea (both in the Peloponnese), and the island of Santorini. From the outset, Yannis and Amalia wanted to focus on indigenous grape varieties, producing site-specific wines from mineral-rich soils that were once farmed by the ancient Greeks. By harnessing a judicious mix of human talent – Yannis studied oenology in Burgundy – and exceptional terroir, Tselepos transports you to the cradle of modern wine culture as we know it.

Today, Yannis works alongside his second-generation siblings, Aris Tselepos and Andriani Tselepou. Both have spent time abroad – Aris Tselepos is an alumnus of the University of California, Davis and a stalwart of Napa Valley, while Andriani graduated from LSE London with a degree in marketing. That’s a dangerous amount of raw talent, and they put it to good use making superlative wines, not least at the flagship cellar in Mantinia.

Aris Tselepos, Yiannis Tselepos and Andriani Tselepos

Ktima Tselepos

Tselepos Wines’ first and eponymous winery, Ktima Tselepos is situated at the southeastern end of the Mantinian plateau. Rising to 700 metres above sea level, the Mantinia plateau is the home of the Moschofilero vine, responsible for the Peloponnese’s finest dry white, a delicious concoction of tropical fruit and spice. Every year, a certain percentage of the crop is matured in wood to enhance the wine’s structure, texture, and complexity. It remains one of Greece’s most loved wines.

Yet Tselepos produces an eclectic palate of styles at the estate, including Moschofilero dry whites and traditional-method sparkling. Indeed, Tselepos was one of the first Greek producers to embrace sparkling wine, fashioning aromatic and elegant styles based on indigenous varieties and all named after Amalia Tselepos. The elegant Amalia Brut and complex Amalia Vintage are produced from the Moschofilero grape, whilst the characterful lees-aged Amalia Rosé from Agiorgitiko.

Like so many ambitious Greek producers, the Tselepos family also grows a range of international varieties, including Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer. The local soils are a mixture of red clay, limestone and schist, and Mantinia’s cooler continental climate is highly conducive to quality winegrowing, as berries are harvested with plenty of ripe acidity to balance out the rich fruit.

Vineyards at Ktima Tselepos, Mantinia

Ktima Driopi

Flip the coin to Nemea, however, and you’re in a whole other world. Bought in 2003, Tselepos’ second winery, Ktima Driopi is situated near the archaeological wonder that is Mycenae. The appellation is renowned for its luscious reds made exclusively from Agiorgitiko grapes. They are planted in such varied terrains as Koutsi (350m elevation) and Asprokampos (900-1000m elevation), and used to make the flagship reds but also sparkling and rosé styles.

Nemea enjoys mild winters and relatively temperate summers due to the influence of the sea. Vines grown on the red clays of the valley floor are best suited to red wine production, revealing potent and dramatic aromas (plum, mocha, and garrigue) that make Tselepos’ expressions of Agiorgitiko – Driopi Classic and Ktima Driopi Reserve – a delectable partner to winter cuisine.

Ktima Driopi, Nemea

Canava Chrissou-Tselepos

Meanwhile, at Tselepos’ newest winery, Canava Chrissou-Tselepos, the bold flavours of Assyrtiko – among Europe’s most compelling – take centre stage. In 2014, Tselepos entered into a partnership with the Chrissou family to create the Canava Chrissou project on the island of Santorini. The estate now produces interesting and varied expressions of the island’s flagship grape: the distinctively mineral old-vine Santorini; the amphora-aged single-vineyard Laoudia, which received a ‘Best in Show’ nod at the Decanter World Wine Awards in 2021; and the uniquely intense Nykteri (‘wine of the night), a style unique to Santorini, produced with grapes harvested at night, typically later in the season, and aged for a minimum of three months in oak.

The winery’s sole focus remains the production of intense dry whites, scented with lemon and minerals, that are made from old Assyrtiko vines, trained in ‘nests’ crouching on the windswept heights of this volcanic paradise. This has been the tradition since the days of Aristotle.

Harvest at Canava Chrissou-Tselepos, Santorini

Progressive force

But Tselepos also exemplifies all that is progressive about the wine industry, with sustainability and ethical winegrowing at the fore; the company has invested heavily in renewable energy and the reduction of its carbon footprint. Moreover, all estate-grown fruit will be certified organic by 2024, while Tselepos continues to improve its tourist infrastructure to the benefit of international visitors. Buoyed by significant investment and Greek passion, Tselepos Wines is an unstoppable force.

All Tselepos Wines are available in the UK through Cava Spiliadis

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