The Bizios Estate in Greece’s Nemea Region Releases Another Magical White Blend…

Elias Bizios is the owner of a wonderful estate in Asproskampos, known to the locals as “little Tuscany” in Nemea, Greece. Here Elias farmed a small patch of vineyards but always found it difficult to make a living with such a small production. So it was always his ambition to acquire additional adjoining vineyard holdings to increase his production. 

In 2016, Wimbledon Wine Cellar owned by Andrew Pavli and based in London, purchased an additional 3 hectares of prime Malagousia and Chardonnay vineyards with view to enlarging the total production at the Bizios Estate. This increased production has now come to fruition with the release of the new 2016 white blend modelled predominantly around the Malagouzia grape. With premium Greek wines once again riding high in the global wine trade, this is a super addition for enthusiasts.

Bizios Aspros Kampos Chardonnay Malagouzia Blend 2016, Nemea, Greece, 13 Abv.

An attractive white blend matured in oak barrels that opens with a fairly classical melody of summer fruits but very soon builds to a vibrant complex crescendo. The aromatics are crystalline and pure with pear drops, apple bon bons, honeydew melon and dusty, musky, citrus stick candy complexity. The flavours follow quite precisely to the palate, which shows such intensity, concentration and seductive candied apple fruit depth. Lovely melon fruit complexity, exotic caramelised green and yellow citrus fruits and delicious confectionary shop notes on a palate with harmonious integrated freshness and a lingering subtle apple sherbet persistence. 

(Wine Safari Score: 91/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Assyrtiko – The Grape and the Winery That Could Show South Africa the Way Forward… 

In the wake of the Greek financial crisis in 2010, Yannis Valambous, who lived around the corner from my shop in South Kensington, came in and bid his farewell, saying he was heading back to Greece to open a winery. Needless to say, I rolled my eyes, wished him all the best and thought he might possibly be the craziest or bravest individual I knew. And that was the last I heard from him… until 2016.

Yiannis returned to Santorini, his childhood holiday destination, with a plan that was part dream, part folly, which was to revive the family vineyards he inherited from his father and create a modern, state-of-the-art, boutique winery.

Fast forward and the Vassaltis Winery is now the latest addition to Santorini’s booming wine culture, with construction completed in April 2016. Together with Oenologists Elias Roussakis and Yannis Papaeconomou, who complete the team, they share the vision that Santorini can produce world class wines, and that a new generation of Greek winemakers can deliver big results, given the opportunity.
Typically, the white wine vinification takes place in stainless steel tanks, under controlled temperature. The wine remains on its lees for 6 months, in the tank before bottling.

Vassaltis Assyrtiko 2016, DO Santorini, 13.5 Abv.

A deceptively dark straw colour, this wine is as fresh as a Greek Spring morning. The nose is so pronounced and precise being an incredible mix of salty sea breeze, kelp beds, crushed granite, dried orange peel and dusty dried baking herbs. But there is also an undertone of richness and citrus fruit freshness that follows to a palate of vibrant yellow stone fruits, white peach, grapefruit, mineral austerity, and a saline, tart acidity. But with all great Assyrtiko whites, the over riding influence is maritime, salty, mouth watering acidity and rasping, mesmerising mineral austerity. A wine Eben Sadie in the Swartland would be proud to have made, which is a real badge of honour! Drink now to 2025+

(Wine Safari Score: 94/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

The winery is open to visitors year-round, in addition to tours that introduce visitors to the indigenous grape varieties of the island and the unique viticultural practices that have been a tradition in Santorini for centuries.

Vassaltis Vineyards Winery:

Vourvoulos, Santorini

84700, Greece

Contact: Yannis Valambous

Tel: +30-22860-22211 

Fax: +30-27110-544450

Visiting Hours: 11am – 8pm (or by appointment for Groups)

Dionysus dishing it out to the Masters of Wine…

Today, my Greek odyssey to meet Dionysus began – the god of the vine, the harvest, ritual ecstasy and ritual madness. Sounds like the perfect god for a Master of Wine trip you might say! 

God of the grape, Dionysus was the last god to be accepted onto Mt Olympus, and was the youngest and only god to have a mortal mother. So like us Masters of Wine, we share a string of commonality! Sometimes perceived, wrongly so, as gods, when in fact we are mere mortals with a bond of blood, passion and wine.

Demitri Walters MW boarding the Tinos bound ferry
Arriving on the small(ish) cyclade island of Tinos signalled the start of our vinous odyssey. Two hours ahead of London, we arrived at our beachside base camp at near sunset and immediately set about planning for the evening’s first tastings and dinner with the winemaker, viticulturalist, and owner of the T-Oinos winery. 

The venue for the evening’s festivities was the top seafood restaurant on Tinos, Thalassaki in the village of Ysternie. After meeting winemaker Spyros on Monday in London, we expected only the finest… and we were not disappointed. 

A fabulous Marvrose 2015 Rose made from 50% Mavrotragano / 50% Avgoustiatis from magnum kicked off proceedings, offering a pale copper coloured wine, showing incredible granitic mineral tension, vibrant fresh precision and a defined saline character at 12.5 abv. Superb! (91+/100) 

Caramelised squid

This was followed by the tantalising Malagouzia 2015 white with a most incredibly accessible and fresh nose of honey suckle, jasmine, yellow stone fruits, following to a vibrant palate of white citrus, white flowers and truffle oil nuances (92/100). 

Lobster tail and spinach 

Course after course of sublime yet supremely fresh, modernistic food dishes rained down upon us, with each course being matched with these very fine wines from T-Oinos winery.

Highlights of the evening, were once again the T-Oinos Clos Stegasta 2014 Assyrtiko (the Greek Coche) white served from magnum, which contained all the usual hall mark struck match, lime, white citrus, granitic mineral notes that have made it so revered in these parts of the world as a fine Burgundy lookalike. 

Spyros, the inspired winemaker at T-Oinos

We finished off the first and most intriguing day with T-Oinos Mavro 2011 red which was still a baby at 5 years old. What a super, luscious, almost Bolgheri-like wine with such an internationally nuanced complexity, character and appeal. Bravo! (92+/100)

Certainly a beginners eye-opener tasting of wines made from Greek vines grown at 450m high altitude and planted on granitic soils. 

So much more excitement awaits us tomorrow. 

My Greek Wine Odyssey Begins…

So excited to be visiting the fabulous little  winery of T-Oinos on the Greek cyclade island of Tinos. After tasting and buying their latest release whites and reds, it is going to be fascinating seeing the vineyards.

A double treat to be travelling with 5 fellow Masters of Wine and good friends, Justin Knock MW, Lenka Sedlackova MW, Demiti Walters MW etc. 

I had dinner with T-Oinos winemaker Spyros (seated) only on Monday at the Greek Larder in Kings Cross, and his wines were singing. Much more excitement awaits.

Another great wine Odyssey begins…