If, like me, you’re always looking to be adventurous (with regard to wine, of course!), searching out different tastes and, especially, for unusual grape varieties, a good place to start is surely Greece. Look back at the blogs I wrote after my wife and I visited the country last October and you’ll read about the delightful reds we tasted made from Xinomavro and the almost unpronounceable Agioritiko. And then there were the stunning, crisp Assyrtiko whites, the best of which come from the spectacular volcanic island of Santorini. But, it’s another of the Greek islands, Crete, that has, perhaps, an even wider range of native local grapes.
We went there – although that was a few years back – and found that almost every restaurant offered bottles made from Vilana, Vidiano, Mandilari, Liatiko or Kotsifali – the first 2 local white varieties, the others red. All provided pleasant drinking, especially when teamed with the local food, although I might have been favourably influenced by the local scenery and ambiance, too! But I did note down a couple of names that I thought stood out from the rest and were worth seeking out back in the UK, although it has taken me until recently to follow up on my good intention.
I found Douloufakis’ Dafnios Vidiano in Maltby & Greek (£14.50), although, for my American readers, the label shows that it is also imported by Diamond Importers of Chicago. A lovely rich and food-friendly unoaked white with delicate orange and apricot nose and palate – a little like a good Viognier.
And we still have a bottle of the same producer’s Liatiko red (also Maltby & Greek, £16) on our wine rack. I wonder if that will show as well on a cool, wet winter day in the UK as it did on a lovely warm evening in Crete? Glancing out of my window, we may not have long to wait before finding out. Watch this space and I’ll let you know.