About Me

My photo
Vice President Athenee Importers

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Modern Mavrodaphne - its not all sweet

Mavrodaphne is a red grape variety that is commonly grown in the northern Peloponnese around the area of Achaia and is seen as far west as the mountainous island of Cephalonia.  While most Mavrodaphne imported into the US is of the sweet, fortified persuasion, there are two producers in our portfolio currently working with the variety to produce dry red wines - Mercouri Estate and Gentilini

Mercouri Estate


The Mercouri Estate has been cultivating and using Mavrodaphne for decades in its Estate & Cava Red.  For me, Mavrodaphne in the Estate's blends gives aromatics of violets, or "purple" notes, as the wine develops.  It's pretty cool to see how these wines age and how their varietal characters develop.

Just a few years ago, the Estate released a single varietal Mavrodaphne, Daphne Nera.   This is 100% Mavrodaphne that is funky, earthy, spicy and moderately tannic.  It needs time to breathe and pairs well with fattier cuts of meat.  Since it's a relatively small production, we typically import about 50 cases a year of this wine.  As a small side note, the faces you see on the label are the current owner's mother, sister and brother.  The picture is from the 1920s or 30s and really captures the beauty and charm of the winery and its surroundings.

The Gentilini Winery is located on the island of Cephalonia, in the Ionian Sea.  It is a large and beautiful island that was under the Venetian rule until the mid 1800s.  In 2002, Marianna Kosmetatos & her husband Petros Markantonatos, assumed control from her father.  In the past 10+ years, the couple have succeeded in creating food friendly, modern wines from local varieties.  While the white grape Robola is the most famous on the island, there is a small appellation zone for dry Mavrodaphne.  It is from this high elevation zone that the grapes are harvested and used to produce Gentilini Eclipse. Eclipse got its name from the lunar eclipse that occurred during the harvest for the grapes that would make the first vintage of this wine.  Eclipse is dark and inky black in color with aromas of spice, wild berry and anise.  Like the Daphne Nera, Eclipse is best drunk with fattier meats & cheeses.
While dry expressions of Mavrodaphne are not going to become a staple Greek variety produced by dozens of wineries, it is a grape variety that is worth seeking out.  They offer you something different than Agiorgitiko These wines retail on shelves anywhere from $27 - $55 for the Mercouri Cava Red.  If you are lucky enough to find a bottle on a shelf or a wine list, try it!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Bubbles Bubbles everywhere! Ode Panos & Ode Panos Rose

Located in the high altitude appellation of Mantinia, Domaine Spiropoulos has been in existence for over two decades.  Aside from producing their USDA organic certified still wines, the winery also produces two sparkling wines - Ode Panos & Ode Panos Rose. 

Ode Panos 2012

Ode Panos 2012
Made from 100% Moschofilero in the Charmat method, Ode Panos is a lively and floral expression of the grape variety.  Slightly blush in color (Moschofilero is a pink skinned grape), Ode Panos has aromatics of rose petals and stone fruits.  Crisp acidity and a pleasant mouth feel complete this wine. Think of it as a wine that's in between Prosecco & Spanish Cava in style.  In 2012, the appellation laws changed to include Ode Panos in the Mantinia appellation.  As a result, the wine that once was a table wine is now PDO Mantinia and vintage dated. Approximately 800 cases are imported into the US annually. With the release of the 2012 Ode Panos, the winery decided on a package change and went from the black label to the one you see above.  

Ode Panos Rose NV
Ode Panos Rose NV
Ode Panos Rose is the newest addition to the winery's portfolio.  Released for the first time earlier this year, Ode Panos Rose is made from 80% Moschofilero and 20% Agiorgitiko.  Also made in the charmat method, this wine is a vibrant rose color with intense aromatics of rose water and cherry.  This wine was an experiment for the winery, with only 500 cases being made.  90% of the stock has been imported into the US.  Since the appellation of Mantinia only include white sparkling wine, Ode Panos Rose is classified as a table wine, and is therefore non vintage.  However, since this is the inaugural release, all of the wine is from the 2012 vintage.
Both of these wines are available across the United States and retail at approximately $25 per bottle.  They are great options as we enter into the holiday season. 


Crazy Donkey IPA - Greece's first IPA to reach US shores October 2013!

Santorini’s only microbrewery releases its first beer in the US


Santorini is known for its natural beauty, deep blue seas, progressive food & wine scene and now beer.  Beer? Each year tourists make the ascent from the port up to the main town of Fira on the back of a donkey.  As a result, the donkey has become the beloved & ubiquitous symbol of the island. In 2011, Santorini Brewing CO opened its doors on the road from the airport to the quaint beachside town of Kamari and created the Donkey beers.  The brewery has an annual production capacity of 75,000 liters.

Santorini Brewing Co is a made up of four partners – Yiannis Paraskevopoulos, winemaker for GAIA Wines, Majda Anderson, an ex-pat Californian now living on Santorini year-round, Steven Daniels of the UK and formerly a wine buyer of Odd Bins, and lastly, Boban Krunic, the Serbian born brewer.  There are three styles of beer currently in production – Yellow, Red & Crazy Donkey.  Only Crazy Donkey IPA is available for export.

Crazy Donkey is Greece’s first IPA and is produced with five kinds of hops, including Motueka from New Zealand and Carcade from Oregon.  The beer has 6.5% ABV and an IBU of 50.  Crazy Donkey is sold in 750ml glass bottles and retails for approximately $35-$40 a bottle on a beverage list.  Crazy Donkey will be available in the United States in small quantities (less than 100 cases per shipment) throughout the winter months.  Due to high local demand, the brewery will not export beer during the tourist season. 

Athenee Importers is Santorini Brewing Company's exclusive US representative.  The first shipment of Crazy Donkey IPA will arrive in the US in late October.

Crazy Donkey will be available in select markets across the United States as supply permits.  You can find more information on the brewery at: www.santorinibrewingcompany.gr.