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Sunday, February 20, 2011

First look: GAIA 14-18 2010

2009 14-18 on the left & 2010 on the right

Last week we received our first shipment of GAIA Wines 14-18h 2010.  This wine has been part of Athenee's portfolio since we first began working with the winery in 1997.  Every year its popularity continues to grow and has been a wonderful introduction to Greek wine for many a consumer.

14-18h is made from 100% Agiorgitiko that is grown on high altitude (800m above sea level) vineyards in the Nemea region of the Peloponnese.  The grapes grown at this altitude tend to be more aromatic and this lends perfectly to the idea behind this wine. The name, 14-18h, refers to the number of hours the skin and juice remain in contact for color extraction.  On average, most rose wines have less extraction time (on average it's about 6-10 hours depending on the style of wine you are going for).  In this case, 14-18 has an intense plum color and in some vintages it bordered on fuchsia.  Many mistake the wine for a lighter red as opposed to a rose.

One of the most significant changes to come to this wine is that it is now available in a screw cap.  As you can see from the picture above, the 2009 (on the right) bottle was taller and for many on the buy side of the business, the bottle was too tall to fit on a shelf or in the refrigerator easily.  The new bottle is about 2 inches shorter and remedies complaints we've had in the past.

GAIA decided to move to screw cap last year after the winery's owner and chief oenologist, Yiannis Paraskevopoulos, went to Australia.  In the past, you could not broach the topic of screw caps with him without hearing a lecture against it.  Somehow on this trip he had an epiphany and all of the 2010 vintage of their value wines (Notios Red & White, 14-18h & Ritinitis Restina) will be released in screw cap.

I had the opportunity to try the 2010 vintage this weekend.  True to years past, the color of this wine is a ruby red.  On the nose, bright cherry and raspberry aromas are found.  On the palate, the flavors continue from the nose.  This year I was pleased to find that the acidity was a bit higher along with notes of persistent minerality.  The finish was medium in length and pleasant.  This wine is always in my wine fridge because it pairs well with so many different types of food.  I especially love this wine with turkey - it has just the right amount of tannin and acidity to compliment it.  Even though we are moving into spring, keep this in mind for next fall.

GAIA 14-18 retails around $15-$17 a bottle.  The 2010 vintage will be making its way through the distribution channels over the next few months and will be readily available across the US by May, if not sooner.

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