Inspiration / Travels In Wine

Travels in Wine Greece: In the Heart of Naoussa Country


Sebastian Payne MW Sebastian Payne MW

Join buyers Sebastian Payne MW and Freddy Bulmer on part 2 of their Travels in Wine Greece.

Before leaving the Peloponnese, we stayed the night in Nafplion. With a couple of hours to spare before dinner, Freddy decided to climb the 1,000 steps to the top of the fortress which overlooks the town…
Before leaving the Peloponnese, we stayed the night in Nafplion. With a couple of hours to spare before dinner, Freddy decided to climb the 1,000 steps to the top of the fortress which overlooks the town…

After an overnight stop on the charming seaside town of Nafplion, once the fashionable weekend retreat for Athenians, but in March mercifully free of visitors, we returned to Athens for the short flight to Salonika, where we were met by Apostolos Thymiopoulos who drove us west inland to Veria in the heart of Naoussa country.

The beautiful views from one of Apostolos' Rapsani vineyards
The beautiful views from one of Apostolos' Rapsani vineyards
Apostolos Thymiopoulos with Sebastian Payne MW
Apostolos Thymiopoulos with Sebastian Payne MW

Naoussa used to be marketed almost exclusively by merchants who would use xinomavro grapes or wine from many small producers in a barrel-aged blend. The resulting wines could be sound, full-bodied reds but more often turned out 'muddied' and rather jaded. Apostolos' father had always produced exceptionally good organically grown fruit but it was his son who decided to make and bottle his own wine, capturing the unique fragrance of the grape and taming the naturally high tannic structure by picking ripe healthy grapes and with careful, gentle vinification. Think a cross between pinot noir bouquet and nebbiolo structure and you have an idea of his wonderful Earth and Sky Naoussa wine and Jeunes Vignes, which for my money have brought Naoussa wines back to life.

We supped together comparing several vintages which proved how well his wines age. Halfway through the meal Apostolos, with spontaneous generosity, dashed back to his cellar to find a three litre bottle of his 2008 to present to a large group of local doctors at the neighbouring table. The Wine Society offices were once housed in the Medical Society in London and the medical profession has always been an intrinsic part of The Society, so I was doubly pleased to see the Veria doctors enjoying Naoussa with gusto.

A selection of wines from Apostolos Thymiopolos. Some real treats to be had here!
A selection of wines from Apostolos Thymiopolos

Next morning we tried different elements of his 2016 vintage, still youthful but full of promise, and the fragrant vats of the young 2017 reds too. Apostolos sells practically everything he makes abroad. France, the USA and us in the UK were early supporters so he has been buying small parcels of hillside vineyards with old vines and enlarging his cellar with astonishing energy. But his recent acquisition is his most exciting project yet. In the foothills of Mount Olympus, its top covered with snow as we drove past, is the tiny limited area of Rapsani itself. Sited on a ridge overlooking the sparkly Mediterranean below to the northeast and the valley of the river Peneos to the south west on the other, the vines benefit from its cooling breeze which keeps the grapes fresh in the hot summers. It is a magical spot and his first vintage of Rapsani is a wonderful taste of great wines to come. I expect the Greek gods will descend from Olympus to try it.

The vibrant, hectic and wonderful Apostolos Thymiopolos with a big bottle of something special
The vibrant, hectic and wonderful Apostolos Thymiopolos with a big bottle of something special

Browse our current range of Greek wines

Where to go next?

Want more inspiration?

Sign up for a carefully-curated selection of recipes, guides, in-depth expertise and much more.

Our website uses cookies with the aim of providing you with a better service. By using this website you consent to The Wine Society using cookies in accordance with our policy.


4.4. Cookie Policy

By using The Wine Society website, you agree to cookies being used in accordance with the policy outlined below. If you do not agree to this, you must alter your browser settings to turn off cookies or block those types which are unacceptable to you or cease using the website.

The Wine Society uses cookies to enable easy navigation and shopping on the website. We take the privacy of all who use our website very seriously and ensure that our use of cookies complies with current EU legislation. The following guide outlines what cookies are, the types of cookies used on The Society's website and how they work.

You may alter your browser settings to turn off cookies or block those types which are unacceptable to you, but this will cause difficulties when accessing and using some areas of the site. Instructions on how to do this can also be found below.

4.4.1. What are 'Cookies'?

  • Most major websites use cookies.
  • A cookie is a very small data file placed on your hard drive by a web page server. It is essentially your access card, and cannot be executed as code or deliver viruses. It is uniquely yours and can only be read by the server that gave it to you.
  • Cookies cannot be used by themselves to identify you.
  • The purpose of a basic cookie is to tell the server that you returned to that web page or have items in your basket. Without cookies, websites and their servers have no memory. A cookie, like a key, enables swift passage from one place to the next.
  • Without a cookie every time you open a new web page the server where that page is stored will treat you like a completely new visitor.
  • More recently, cookies have also been used to collect information about the user which allows a profile of their preferences and interests to be created so that they can be served with interest-based rather than generic information about available goods and services.

4.4.2. How do Cookies help The Wine Society?

Cookies allow our website to function effectively. Cookies also help us to arrange content to match your preferred interests more quickly. We can learn what information is important to our visitors, and what isn't.

4.4.3. How does The Wine Society use cookies?

The Wine Society does not accept advertising from third parties and therefore, as a rule, does not serve third-party cookies. Exceptions to this include performance/analytical cookies (see below), used anonymously to improve the way our website works, the provision of personalised recommendations, and occasions when we may team up with suppliers to offer special discounts on goods or services.

The Society uses technology to track the patterns of behaviour of visitors to our site.

4.4.4. What type of cookies does The Wine Society use?

We use the following three types of cookies: Strictly Necessary Cookies
These cookies are required for the operation of our website, enabling you to move around the website and use its features, such as accessing secure areas of the website. Without these cookies, services like shopping baskets or e-billing cannot be provided. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Authentication Cookie and Anonymous Cookie
    These cookies remember that you are logged in to your account – without them, the website would repeatedly request your login details with each new page you visit during your time on our website. They are removed once your session has ended.
  • Session Cookie
    These cookies are used to remember who you are as you use our site: without them, the website would be unable to tell the difference between you and another Wine Society member and facilities such as your basket and the checkout process would therefore not be able to function. They too are removed once your session has ended. Functionality & Targeting/Tracking Cookies
These cookies are used to recognise you when you return to our website and to provide enhanced features. This allows us to personalise our content for you. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Unique User Cookie
    This cookie is used to:
    • store your share number in order to identify that you have visited the website before. Without this cookie, we would be unable to tell whether you are a member or not.
    • record your visit to the website, the pages you have visited and the links you have followed. We use this information to make our website, the content displayed on it and direct marketing communications we may send to you or contact you about more relevant to your interests.
    • This cookie expires after 13 months.
  • Peerius Cookies
    These third-party cookies are used to provide you with personalised recommendations based on your purchase and browsing history. They expire within 4 hours of your visit. Performance/analytical cookies
These cookies collect information about how visitors use a website, for instance which pages visitors go to most often, and if they get error messages from web pages. These cookies don't collect information which identifies a visitor. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. It is only used to improve how a website works. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Google Analytics Cookies
    These are third-party cookies to enable Google Analytics to monitor website traffic. All information is recorded anonymously. Using Google Analytics allows The Society to better understand how members use our site and monitor website traffic. Authentication Cookie
In order for us to ensure that your data remains secure it is necessary for us to verify that your session is authentic (i.e. it has not been compromised by a malicious user). We do this by storing an otherwise meaningless unique ID in a cookie for the duration of your visit. No personal information can be gained from this cookie.

4.4.5. How do you turn cookies off?

All modern browsers allow you to modify your cookie settings so that all cookies, or those types which are not acceptable to you, are blocked. However, please note that this may affect the successful functioning of the site, particularly if you block all cookies, including essential cookies. For example, In Internet Explorer, go to the Tools Menu, then go to Internet Options, then go to Privacy. Here you can change the rules your browser uses to accept cookies. You can find out more in the public sources mentioned below.

4.4.6. Learn more about cookies

4.4.7. Changes to our cookie policy

Any changes we may make to our cookie policy in the future will be posted on the website and, where appropriate, notified to you by email. Please check back frequently to see any updates and changes to our cookie policy.