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The Society's Greek White 2019

White Wine from Greece
Wonderfully refreshing blend of 55% moschofilero, which provides the aromatics, and 45% roditis which lends the structure and rapier-like acidity. A vibrant Greek white that's bursting with rose hips, grapefruit and honeysuckle. Produced by member favourite, Seméli, and our first own-label Greek wine.
is no longer available
Code: GR1701

Wine characteristics

  • White Wine
  • Dry
  • Moschofilero
  • 12% Alcohol
  • No oak influence
  • Drinking now
  • Screwcap

Greece

The extremely ancient and proud history of winemaking in Greece goes back 6,500 years and the central part it has played, and does play, in Greek culture ought to have assured it of a place in the hearts and minds of modern wine drinkers. The fact that it has not yet done so is due to a complicated set of factors that involve history, language, geography and climate, not to mention economic woes, political upheaval and a lack of investment.

The prosperous years, in winemaking terms, of the Byzantine Empire was followed by the rapacious regulation of trading Venetians and then the dead hand of the Ottoman Turks who, though they did not prevent the making of wine, taxed the end product heavily. Communication difficulties exacerbated the problems and wine production became a very fragmented and localised business. An international reputation, or even a national one, based on produce from well organised, demarcated and business-like regions with a reputation for fine wines never got off...
The extremely ancient and proud history of winemaking in Greece goes back 6,500 years and the central part it has played, and does play, in Greek culture ought to have assured it of a place in the hearts and minds of modern wine drinkers. The fact that it has not yet done so is due to a complicated set of factors that involve history, language, geography and climate, not to mention economic woes, political upheaval and a lack of investment.

The prosperous years, in winemaking terms, of the Byzantine Empire was followed by the rapacious regulation of trading Venetians and then the dead hand of the Ottoman Turks who, though they did not prevent the making of wine, taxed the end product heavily. Communication difficulties exacerbated the problems and wine production became a very fragmented and localised business. An international reputation, or even a national one, based on produce from well organised, demarcated and business-like regions with a reputation for fine wines never got off the ground in Greece as they did in, for example, Bordeaux or the Douro. Even though independence was won from the Ottomans in the 1820s, the ripples of the occupation were still felt into the 20th century.

The Greek wine renaissance began in the 1970 by the Greek Shipowner Capt. John Carras, who set up his Estate in Chalkidiki, then the largest Estate in Europe. He employed Professor Emile Peynaud from Bordeaux University to advise and supervise the viticulture. The grapes originally planted were predominantly international grape varieties and his Chateau Carras (a Bordeaux blend) soon became famous and was listed at Harrods. The Hatzimichalis family followed swiftly with a very large Estate in Central Greece; again focusing on International grape varieties.

In their wake many smaller producers started making good quality wines. In the 1990's French trained George Skouras continued the renaissance and made 'Megas Oinos' a red wine that focused on the indigenous agiorgitiko variety; this became an iconic wine in Greece.

As the 'new breed' winemakers travelled and studied abroad they realised that Greece's 'treasure trove' of indigenous varieties are perfectly suited to the climate and terroir. By the beginning of the millenium there was a host of young, talented winemakers making wine from Greek grape varieties e.g. Leonidas Nasiakos with his moschofilero, Haridimos Hatzidakis with his Santorini assyrtiko and Apostolos Thymiopoulos with his 'New Age' xinomavro. More recently the second and third generation of Cretan winemakers such as Nikos Karavitakis and Maria Tamiolaki (Rhous Winery) have followed suit and are pioneering the Cretan indigenous grape varieties such as vidiano, vilana and kotsifali. The winemaking industry in Greece has become dynamic, adventurous and exciting and many smaller and niche winemakers have become very popular both in the domestic market and in the international scene.
The climate of Greece is categorised as Mediterranean, and is one of the hotter European areas for wine production. The mountainous interior provides many opportunities to plant at altitude and therefore to ameliorate the effects of heat, but the effects of drought are harder to overcome in an EU region where irrigation is forbidden without a Brussels derogation. Ripeness is therefore rarely a problem except in certain, exceptional circumstances and sites, and the problem is more likely to be a lack of acidity. Harvests in July are not unknown.

Soils are generally limestone based and impoverished except in areas close to the coast or certain valleys where more lucrative crops are planted on the fertile soils. On the islands, in particular the Cyclades, the soils are often volcanic. Santorini is a prime example, and these volcanic soils play a significant role in the character of the wines there. There is, of course, a mosaic of soils types in the entirety of Greece, from schist to sand, but limestone and volcanic soils tend to proliferate.

As with most EU countries, Greece has developed an appellation system, based on the French model, to the extent of borrowing the terminology of Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée on the label. Quality wines, as defined by the EU, are designated either OPE (Controlled Appellation of Origin) if sweet, or if dry as OPAP (Appellation of Superior Quality. If the words Réserve or Grand Réserve are used on a label they have the legal meaning of being aged for an extended period. The equivalent of a Vine de Pays system also operates under which a wider range of grape varieties may be used to make wine.

Wine is made all over Greece, from the high country of Macedonia on the border with what was once Yugoslavia, to the arid island of Crete in the Mediterranean, a location that is closer to Libya and Egypt than to Macedonia. Native varieties are being planted and replanted despite the encroachment of several international varieties.

Sweet wines like the famous muscats of Samos and Mavrodaphne of Patras have a long heritage and when made well are wonderful. And we must mention the famous, and sadly misunderstood, Retsina. Though it has a somewhat debased reputation there is a modern breed of winemakers like Tetramythos determined to make a more refined and delicate version that may yet convert any doubters.
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Semeli

This estate was launched by the Kokotos family in 1980, beginning with 7 hectares of vineyards in Attiki, outside Athens. Initially they planted just international varieties – namely cabernet sauvignon, merlot and chardonnay – but nearly 20 years later the family also invested in vineyards in Nemea, planting more indigenous varieties like moschofilero and roditis on well-drained slopes, 450 metres above sea level. The vineyards are now certified organic.

The family also had ambitious plans for hilltop winery in Nemea, which were realised with investment from an old family friend and fellow Cretan, the chairman of the Bank of Piraeus. A new company was formed, alongside the family’s original venture, which took the name Semeli. The company has also acquired the Nassiakos winery in Mantinia.

The result is an impressive, well-equipped facility, run by the talented winemaker Leonidas Nassiakos, with wines ageing in French and American oak in the underground cellars.

Semeli now makes about 70,000 dozens a year, of which 70% is white. The red is 95% agiorghitiko, and the top wines come from the 15-hectare estate in Nemea.

2019 vintage reviews

The Mail on Sunday

I poured a cheerybottle coming soon from the Wine Society – look out for The Society’s Greek White2019, which will be under ten quid and I’ll be recommending here for itsfragrance and...
I poured a cheerybottle coming soon from the Wine Society – look out for The Society’s Greek White2019, which will be under ten quid and I’ll be recommending here for itsfragrance and excellence.  
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- Olly Smith

The Mail on Sunday

Wine of the Week:Stellar value for a fresh and scented star white. Buy double what you think youneed and invite me over.

- Olly Smith

decanter.com

This is The WineSociety's first own-label Greek wine. The blend of moschofilero and roditis isa hit, the moschofilero giving aromatic fruit and the roditis structure andacidity. Made by the respected...
This is The WineSociety's first own-label Greek wine. The blend of moschofilero and roditis isa hit, the moschofilero giving aromatic fruit and the roditis structure andacidity. Made by the respected producer Semeli Estate from grapes grown at700m-800m, it's got great typicity – firm, citrussy and floral aromatics, witha lovely sappy and mineral quality. The roditis stops it from being too blowsy.Clean as a whistle, food friendly and great value.
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91/100 Amy Wislocki

The Daily Telegraph

The 50 best summerwines: Floral and yet also refreshing: smelling this is like putting your noseinto a bunch of blowsy roses with sharp riffs of white grapefruit and lemonrind going on in the background....
The 50 best summerwines: Floral and yet also refreshing: smelling this is like putting your noseinto a bunch of blowsy roses with sharp riffs of white grapefruit and lemonrind going on in the background. The two grapes are moschofilero and roditisand the wine is made for TWS by Semeli Estate in Nemea.
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- Victoria Moore

Yorkshire Post

There is a lot more to Greek wine than retsina. This comes from Nemea in the northern part of the Peloponnese and is a blend of the moschofilero and roditis grapes. The flavours are crisp with...
There is a lot more to Greek wine than retsina. This comes from Nemea in the northern part of the Peloponnese and is a blend of the moschofilero and roditis grapes. The flavours are crisp with notes of white blossom, honeysuckle, citrus and a bite of astringency which makes this one to pair with grilled fish, especially if there are olives on the plate.
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- Christine Austin

The Independent

... their first ownlabel Greek wine from The Wine Society is a great buy and also upliftinglyaromatic ... made from the indigenous moschofilero and roditis grapes by thewell regarded Semeli outfit, close...
... their first ownlabel Greek wine from The Wine Society is a great buy and also upliftinglyaromatic ... made from the indigenous moschofilero and roditis grapes by thewell regarded Semeli outfit, close to Corinth on the mainland; bracingly dryand packed with refreshing flavours of grapefruit, citrus and honeysuckle.
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- Terry Kirby

The Times

Fly to Greece care of this brilliant, aromatic, musky, floral, basil-scented, aperitif white, a mix of moschofilero and roditis. 

- Jane MacQuitty

Decanter

The Society's first own-label Greek wine, new in the range. Moschofilero gives aromatic fruit and the roditis structure and acidity. Made by Semeli Estate from grapes grown at 700-800m,...
The Society's first own-label Greek wine, new in the range. Moschofilero gives aromatic fruit and the roditis structure and acidity. Made by Semeli Estate from grapes grown at 700-800m, it's got great typicity - firm, citrussy and floral aromatics, with a lovely sappy and mineral quality. 
Read more

- Amy Wislocki

JancisRobinson.com

The aroma is markedby the Moschofilero with scented honeysuckle and zesty grapefruit but there'salso a touch of spice and stony minerality. Beautifully aromatic without beingOTT – more inviting...
The aroma is markedby the Moschofilero with scented honeysuckle and zesty grapefruit but there'salso a touch of spice and stony minerality. Beautifully aromatic without beingOTT – more inviting than the Society's English white just tasted. Relativelysoft and gentle on the palate, fresh enough and the acidity is deceptive,higher than I thought at first, and thus brings the wine into harmony. Pretty,gentle, floral wine with enough freshness and a touch of spice on the finish togive it more than just aroma. Decent length for the price but a summer wine toenjoy without having to pay too much attention. Good value.
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16/20 Julia Harding MW

The Spectator

<span style='font-family: "Arial",sans-serif; font-size: 10pt; mso-fareast-font-family: Calibri; mso-fareast-theme-font: minor-latin; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-language:...
<span style='font-family: "Arial",sans-serif; font-size: 10pt; mso-fareast-font-family: Calibri; mso-fareast-theme-font: minor-latin; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB; mso-fareast-language: EN-GB; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA;'><font color="#000000">When I was in Greecelast year I drank buckets of local wine and got quite a taste for it, eventhough I found the grape varieties impossible to understand let alonepronounce. This info will mean no more to you than it does to me, but just forthe record it’s a blend of moschofilero and roditis. It’s light, lively andrefreshing with deliciously honeyed citrus fruit and is one of those very rarewines that’s just as inviting back home in Blighty on a rain-drenched Augustevening as it was when first encountered by a sun-dappled pool in Corfu.</font></span>
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- Jonathan Ray

The Guardian

The Wine Society has just released a Greek wine under its own label for the first time ,,,  a blend of moschofilero and roditis in a seductively floral vein. One to sit and sip on the last of...
The Wine Society has just released a Greek wine under its own label for the first time ,,,  a blend of moschofilero and roditis in a seductively floral vein. One to sit and sip on the last of the light summer evenings.- 
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Fiona Beckett

The Scotsman

This great value 2019Semeli has apricot and blossom aromas with a grapefruit and honeyed palate.

- Rose Murray Brown

The Mail on Sunday

Incredible value fora refreshing, gently floral triumph from Greece. Taste the future of fine wine.

- Olly Smith

Sunday Express

This blend ofmoschofilero and roditis from Leonidas Nassiakos in Semeli, Nemea, is pretty,bright and delicate, yet still has plenty of flavour. It has a citrus core withdried herbs and a touch of fennel,...
This blend ofmoschofilero and roditis from Leonidas Nassiakos in Semeli, Nemea, is pretty,bright and delicate, yet still has plenty of flavour. It has a citrus core withdried herbs and a touch of fennel, finishing with a pink grapefruit flourish.
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- Jamie Goode

Sunday Express

Pretty, bright anddelicate, this Greek white is also packed with flavour. There's a citrus corewith dried herbs, a touch of fennel and a pink grapefruit flourish on thefinish.

- Jamie Goode

JancisRobinson.com

A delightful, breezy,aromatic white with ginger and white pepper spice notes, citrus and floralflavours and racy acidity. It’s a blend of moschofilero and roditis made bySeméli and would be as...
A delightful, breezy,aromatic white with ginger and white pepper spice notes, citrus and floralflavours and racy acidity. It’s a blend of moschofilero and roditis made bySeméli and would be as welcome on Boxing Day as it is at the height of thesummer. Serve as an apéro or with salads and shellfish.
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- Joanna Simon

the-buyer.net

… almost indecently cheap but offers lots of honeysuckle aromatics, with peach, apricot and grapefruit on the palate. Summer in a bottle.

- Justin Keay

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