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Black Kalavryta is an extremely rare grape, only worked with commercially on a small scale by Tetramythos in the Peloponnese region of Greece. This 2018 vintage is elegant and bright, with cherry and strawberry aromas.
Product Code: GR1591
View all products by Tetramythos
On the slopes of Mount Helmos, a popular ski resort near Patras in the Peloponnese, you will find the vineyards of Tetramythos. As you would expect in an area where Greeks go to ski, the vines are planted at altitude, on 14 hectares of limestone soil between 450 and 1,000 metres above sea level, beside olive and almond groves. At these elevations and with the help of breezes drifting in from the Gulf of Corinth the heat of the Mediterranean sun is somewhat mitigated and freshness can be retained in the grapes and consequently the wines. Viticulture here is organic and owners Aristos and Stathis Spanos and Panayiotis Papagiannopoulos have equipped the winery with all mod cons since it was completed in 2004. They met in 1999 when the brothers Spanos had a desire to make wine and serendipitously met winemaker Panayiotis and established Tetramythos together.Greek varieties such as mavro kalavryta, malagousia, agiorgitiko and roditis rub shoulders with cabernet sauvignon, merlot and sauvignon blanc, allowing them to make interesting blends as well as single-varietal bottlings. They also make, and have done much to restore the reputation of, Retsina wines gently flavoured with resin. These wines are much debased in the hands of others but here a delicacy is achieved that will surprise and delight many wine lovers. The retsina is made in traditional clay pitharia (amphorae) specially imported from Crete which is an illustration of the attention to detail that puts Tetramythos among the best producers in 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 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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"I agree with the reviewer who said "'Very Greek was the comment of those who shared my bottle, but I have to admit I was somewhat underwhelmed. Not that is was unpleasant; quite the opposite. But not very distinctive. " Reminds me of holiday wine - very ordinary. "
Mr Robert Purry (19-Jan-2020)
"'Very Greek' was the comment of those who shared my bottle, but I have to admit I was somewhat underwhelmed. Not that is was unpleasant; quite the opposite. But not very distinctive. "
Mr Stephen Butler (26-Aug-2019)
"This is what the Wine Society is about! A wine that you would never get in a supermarket. It has a unique taste and is very Greek. Very powerful taste of liquorice and herbs. Tastes more alcoholic than the label. Not sure which is the best food to pair it with but members should buy a bottle to try."
Dr Richard Cranage (12-Jun-2019)
"Four stars in its price bracket, straight out of the delivery carton tonight for this.
Nice dark cherry red colour, strawberries on the nose with a bit of spice, berries and dark fruits in the mouth not much finish, at first seemed a lot more alcoholic than the 12.5% it is but a good drink at he price, nearest I could get in comparison as a grape was Cinsault, not as sweet but in the same area. "
Mr John Wigglesworth (22-May-2019)
"Very enjoyable, easy to drink, would benefit from decanting and lightly chilling. Good value."
Mr Richard Morris (17-Mar-2019)
"A real dissappointment, bland boring, no body, no depth , smooth and dry but no where close to even the cheap greek wine sold at my local greek, if i could ask for a refund i would, not worth the money"
Mr Neville Clifford (15-Aug-2018)
"Unusual wine. Light but with plenty of strawberry & redcurrant flavours. Has a medicinal edge & some tannins. Might be better drunk slightly chilled? Not sure what to eat with this. Heavy meat based stuff does not work. Worth a try for those who like something a bit different."
Mr Colin Mitchell (22-Jul-2018)
"I like Greek wine and this one is a real gem. Not too heavy, an easy drinking red."
Mr John Lucas (16-Jun-2018)
"Purple colour, light though. Watery, light fruit, tannic, acidic to the point of being a little sour; mineral aftertaste. After warming up, drinkable like a light pinot noir, integrated a bit more."
Mr Barry Kelly (08-May-2018)
"We enjoyed this wine - a good red for a hot summer day or evening. Went well with moussaka. I would choose this again to go with Greek food."
Mr Jonathan M Potts (30-Apr-2018)
"I’d describe this as a happy wine - it’s just very pleasing to drink with Greek dishes such as Kleftico and yet when drunk on its own it becomes clear it’s well made - good quality and I’d certainly recommend it. I’d buy it again."
Mr Julian Edgington (21-Apr-2018)
"i love this wine. Tasty with vegetarian dishes and barbecues alike, and only 12.5%. As good as previous vintages; still good value."
Rev Robert Stanier (20-Apr-2018)
"Smoother than velvet, light to medium bodied, surprisingly went better than expected with rib-eye steak and rice. A good find, and I look forward to opening my second bottle. Very enjoyable and good value at this price."
Mr N E Rimmell (10-Apr-2018)
"Drank a bottle of this wine yesterday evening with some moussaka as a "Greeke evening". Not really that impressed, rather a thin wine with little character, and significantly overpriced"
Dr Barrie Johnson (03-Apr-2018)
"We bought a half dozen bottles as we are always intrigued by wines we have never previously tasted. It turned out to be delightful. It's copiously fruity- plummy- and without any raspy after-shock. At 12.5% it has the benefit of being a good lunchtime red. We have drunk it very happily with spicy meat dishes. Clever choice by the Society- if you have more in stock I will certainly add it to my next purchase ."
Prof Richard J Rathbone (20-Mar-2018)
"Colour: Medium intensity, dark cherry red with a light ruby rim.
Aroma: Ripe raspberries, cherries plus more savoury cranberries/redcurrants. Notes of leather, tobacco and something herbal.
Taste: Medium-light in body, soft and mellow texture with fine-grained tannin and abundant acidity. Sour cherry and liquorice flavours with a good peppery finish.
Overall: A pleasure to drink, so smooth and supple. Fruity, fresh, light and easy-drinking. Lacks a little in body but otherwise no complaints for a wine at this price. A really good find and I would definitely buy it again.
Mr Gabriel Higgins (10-Mar-2018)
"Bought 2 bottles. Drank both tonight over a family dinner. Very impressed. A nice light easy drinking wine which went down well with a steak.
I will order another case while still in stock"
Mr Owen Neary (14-Apr-2018)
"Very nice indeed. Black cherries. Slightly sweet. Quite distinctive - one of those wines where you take a sip and know you're in for a treat."
Mr Richard Hadfield (19-Jan-2018)
"Another new grape variety tried thanks to the Wine Society. It smells quite like cherry bakewell, with a smidge of raspberry jam. Some more red fruit in the taste, and even spiced pear. Quite light and easy-drinking, not as robust as I usually like in reds, but it went down well, and my husband was quite a fan too."
Mr Addam Merali-Hosiene (15-Jan-2018)
"I am a fan of Greek wines, but my experience has been the more widely available wines such as Naoussa, Goumenissa or Nemea from the larger producers sich as Boutari, although I am a big fan of Gerouvassiliou. This is quite light, delicate and went beautifully with a prawn and scallop dish I had that evening. Aromas of ripe cherries and some forest fruits, the flavours are soft with some leather, soft tannins and quite fresh acidity. A great little wine."
Mr John Lamond (04-Jan-2018)
"Red cherries with a healthy amount of clove and spice.
Quite grippy tannins after a couple of hours."
Mr Alex Downham (28-Oct-2017)
"Made from a grape I've never otherwise heard of, this is (another) example of the Wine Society heading off the beaten track and getting great results.
Fresh and medium bodied, tasting a bit of black cherries. I rarely drink red wine without food, but this is nice on its own and also with a range of mid week dishes: e.g. tried and tested with shepherd's pie and vegetarian lasagne.
Every time now if I'm buying a case from the Wine Society, I put in a bottle or two of this into the dozen (when it's in stock).
Rev Robert Stanier (04-Oct-2017)
The Mail on Sunday (8th Oct 2017)
"For sheer value [from
Greek wine], I haven’t tasted better than [this]."
"A surprising find, tasted blind you would never guess this is from Greece. Similar (but certainly not the same) to a well made Beaujolais with a definite intriguing spicy note. Very more-ish, will be wonderful with tomatoes, black olives & charcoal grilled meats or Mediterranean veg. This is one I will most certainly come back to."
Mr Tim Potts (27-Jan-2017)
"Pale red - very pinot noir, soft entry with hints of red cherry. i found this a soft and fruity wine very reminiscent of a decent Beaujolais."
Mr David Chittleborough (20-Jan-2017)
"This is a good pairing with rabbit stifado"
Mr David Jeffery (11-Dec-2016)
Mr Nick Foster (08-Oct-2016)
The Mail on Sunday (30th Oct 2016)
"Crunchy youthful dark
fruit flavours frame this lithe youthful Greek rarity. Delicious. - Olly Smith"
"Light-middle weight red. Well suited as an early summer red. Pleasing without being exceptional, and fair for the price."
Mr Frederick Matthews (28-May-2016)
"This is a true rarity. The bottle I opened outdid a good Gamay on the fruit. It is a very fruity, and light bodied wine, that would be fine chilled on a summer's day. The sort of haggi (plural) that I catch and eat in Scotland would not be a good match to this. However a light salad, pasta etc would. I would recommend this for a perfect refreshment in hot weather."
Mr John Foxworthy-Bowers (29-Dec-2015)
"Wow! Brilliantly bonkers liquid cola cubes of a wine, you can taste the rarity. Well worth trying."
Mr Jonathan Rippon (23-Oct-2015)
Farnham Herald (11th Mar 2016)
"Complex, a mineral
quality, also grapefruit and laurel leaves. Good to drink with curry and
tomatoes … herbiness … liquorice, really quite impressive. "
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