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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Santorini Brewing Co's Yellow Donkey - Just landed in the US!

After a record year for tourism on the island of Santorini, Santorini Brewing Co has resumed brewing & exporting their beloved Donkey beers to the US.  Earlier this week, Yellow Donkey arrived in our warehouse. Yellow Donkey is a blonde Ale with refreshing citrus notes and is the lightest in the Donkey Beer series.  perfect to drink on its own or even as part of a braising liquid for sausage & peppers!

In early December we will receive the rest of the Donkey beers - Red, Crazy IPA and a seasonal White Donkey (Weiss Beer) that will only be available in the winter months.  Remember to keep your donkey beers well chilled as they are unfiltered!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Thalassitis 2010 - The video is done!

For the past few years I have been returning to Santorini over Labor Day weekend to participate in an experiment with Yiannis of GAIA Wines to see what (if any) are the effects of aging wine under the sea for a period of five years.  This year the 2010 Thalassitis was surfaced and the end result was very surprising, yet again!  The wine was smoky and very "closed" for a long time - we ended up decanting it for a few hours and going back to revisit it to see how it opened up.  We were not sure if it was the function of the vintage or what caused it to be so closed for so long.....

Here you will find the link to the video that shows how we surfaced the wine.  https://youtu.be/1PDs1mL7TG0

Unfortunately these bottles will not be making it to the US - the FDA has banned shipments of wines aged underwater for fear of "contamination" by outside elements....  If this ever changes in the future you know we'll be the first to hop on board and bring it in!  For now, the winery will be selling these bottles in Europe - check in with their Facebook page for more info.

In the meantime, enjoy the video!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The perfect wines for Memorial Day weekend

As Memorial Day weekend is upon us, it is a time that marks the unofficial start to summer with a 3-day weekend marked by parades, barbecues and memorial services honoring our service men & women who have lost their lives fighting for our country.

With all of the fun activities planned for the long weekend, it's time to think about your wine options to offer at your gatherings.  With the weather turning warmer, it's time to think of lighter, crisper wines of all colors that pair well with burgers, hot dogs and other tasty grilled treats.  Wines from Greece's grapes fit the bill perfectly - they are at their best when enjoyed with good food & good friends!

Here are some fun options that will please everyone in the crowd:

These tasty bubbles are made from the muscat grape and are off dry.  Perfect for those people that want something light & refreshing!

Samos is a mountainous island in the Aegean Sea.  This is an island ruled by the muscat grape - it makes wonderfully aromatic dessert & dry wines.  Here, the High Peaks is 100% Muscat from the highest altitude vineyards of the island (close to 1200 feet above sea level).  High Peaks is floral and lively with crisp mineral notes.  It is perfect as an aperitif while the grill is firing up.

The Mercouri Estate is one of Greece's most beautiful properties - it is situated along the Western Peloponnese coast.  The family were merchants with Friuli and emigrated to Greece in the mid 1800's.  As a result, their wines have an Italian flair to them.  The Lampadias is an aromatic blend of Agiorgitiko, Syrah & Negroamaro.  Lampadias has aromas of rose petals and white pepper.  perfect with a grilled hot dog!

Notios Red is a perfect red for summer - it is light and fruity and is great when served chilled.  Made from 100% Agiorgitiko, the main red grape of the Peloponnese, it is 100% unoaked.  It is filled with red fruit notes and a pleasant acidity.  This wine is perfect with your BBQ ribs or hamburger, or even salmon for that matter!

Now that you have your recommendations in hand, I urge you to seek out any of these gems and enjoy them with your friends this holiday weekend.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Tsiakkas Winery - Welcome to the Athenee family

The Tsiakkas Winery is located in the village of Pelendri, which is north of Limassol in the Troodos Mountains range in Cyprus.  The winery was established in 1988 by the Tsiakkas family and has been considered for many years as one of Cyprus' finest boutique wineries.

Athenee is pleased to announce our new cooperation with the Tsiakkas Winery and will begin importing three labels into the United States as of May 2015.  The wines are all from Cypriot native grape varieties and represent some of the finest expressions of the country's up and coming wine industry.

The labels for the white & red wines are representations of native Cypriot species of animals that are drawn by a local artist.

Here is a preview of what is to come:
White Wine
Made from the indigenous white grape variety, Xinisteri.  The vineyards are located oin the Pitsilia region, which is the highest in altitude region of Cyprus with cool summers and rather cold winters. Soil is sandy/ volcanic with good drainage. No late frosts or rain in the early autumn occur so the condition s are ideal for grapes.  Production per acre is very small, and vines are on average 50 years old.  The wine is stainless steel fermented and bottled fresh to retain its citrus aromas, medium body and long aftertaste.

 Red Wine

Made from the indigenous variety Vamvakada from the Pitsilia region, it is a medium body wine with spicy currants and vanilla undertones, a distinct taste of dark forest fruits, firm tannins and an ability for long aging.

Dessert Wine
A completely different type of  Commandaria than what is currently in the market. We picked a high altitude vineyard and picked the grapes later than the rest, so we achieved a higher concentration of the fruit on the plant. We then placed it in the sun to further concentrate the taste.  We avoided too much sun and prolonged the period of sun exposure from 10 to 15 days. We then fermented in our own stainless steel for a month at  a very slow process and low temperatures. The wine was then aged in small oak casks again at low temperatures always compared with the traditional way. The aging was carried for four years instead of the minimum two required by law.  No fortification was made for this wine in order to retain its fruit.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

ZHTW HELLAS! - Happy Greek Independence Day!

March 25th is a day of national pride for Greeks all over the world.  On this day in 1821, the Greek revolution to overthrow four centuries of Ottoman rule, began.  There are parades across Greece to commemorate this day and to honor all who fought for independence.  

In honor of Greek Independence, here are some beverages that you can pair with any Greek dish you may have today.
In recent years, microbreweries are popping up in all regions of Greece.  We carry the Donkey beers from Santorini.
Red Donkey - Santorini Brewing Co.  Established in 2011, Santorini Brewing Co is Santorini's only brewery.  They produce three styles of beer - Yellow, Red & Crazy IPA.  Have a Red Donkey with meze today or with a souvlaki.

There are many options in this category ranging from a traditional retsina, to a crisp white wine all the way to a fruity, refreshing red.
Retsina - This type of wine is considered an "Appellation by Tradition", meaning that it can only be produced in Greece.  A well made Retsina pairs exceptionally well with robustly flavored dishes that have lots of garlic & spice.  Think of Retsina like a palate cleanser between bites.  Serve well chilled.  Options for a well made retsina (not the stinky stuff of old) include Vassiliou Retsina & GAIA Ritinitis. The former is produced from Savatiano, which renders a softer style of Retsina, while the latter is made from Roditis, giving it more acidity and lemon notes.
White - Great options from indigenous Greek grape varieties include a Savatiano from Domaine Papagiannakos or a crisp Assyrtiko from Estate Argyros from Santorini.  These wines will be great with fish, pasta or salads.
Red & Rose - Now that we are officially in spring, it's time to enjoy rose & lighter reds.  Try Harlaftis Petaloudes rose made from 100% Syrah or Thymiopoulos' Young Vines 100% unoaked Xinomavro.  These wines pair amazingly well with a lamb burger, pork chops or even pizza!
Booze & cocktails - Your Greek Independence Day would not be complete without a fun cocktail.  Try a Johnny Samos - spiced rum, Samos Vin Doux and a splash of orange juice on top.  Otherwise, enjoy a little Stoupakis Kazanisto Ouzo or Katsaros Tsipouro well chilled or on the rocks!


Friday, March 13, 2015

Wines to pair with your Friday the 13th celebrations

For the second month in a row, we have a Friday the 13th.  Coincidence or is it a sign of something to come?

While we wait to see which it is, here are a few ideas for wines to drink tonight as you celebrate the traditionally unlucky day as you watch a horror flick.  Also, check out these food ideas that might be fun to make as well.

Made from a blend of the local variety Avgoustiatis & Mourvedre, this wine is spicy and earthy.  Perfect to pair with blood sausage or deviled eggs.....  

Spiropoulos Red Stag

Made from 100% Agiorgitiko, this wine is bright ruby red in color with lively acidity.  You can pair this wine with spicy chipotle burgers or squid ink pasta.

Here is a small bit of trivia for you to impress your friends (or loved ones) with tonight as you celebrate Friday the 13th!

The fear of Friday the 13th is called friggatriskaidekaphobia - "Frigg" is the Norse goddess whom Friday is named after and "triskaidekaphobia" means the fear of "13". It's also known asparaskevidekatriaphobia, partly from the Greek word Friday. It is a real fear - some people who have this disorder are even too afraid to say the words “Friday the 13th”. Others avoid flying on a plane, going to work, or even getting out of bed. According to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, millions of Americans are afraid of Friday the 13th. Symptoms of this fear range from mild anxiety and a nagging sense of doom to full-blown panic attacks.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Easter Bunny is coming! Wine recommendations for your Easter celebration

In 2015, Catholic & Orthodox Easter fall in the same month but a week apart (April 5 & 12 respectively). While the celebrations may vary between the Christian faiths, there is one common fact - it is a time for family & friends to gather around the table for a celebration.

On both Easter tables you will find some version of lamb (chops, legs, whole animals....take your pick), perhaps a ham and fresh spring vegetables & salads.  With all of the fresh flavors that will abound on the Easter table, finding wines that will match well can be a difficult task.  

Here are a few recommendations for wines that pair well with any food - Greek or not:
White Wine
When pairing white wine with lamb or ham, you need a wine with good acidity and body to stand up to the fuller flavors of these meats.  In these instances, I would recommend white wines that have seen a small bit of time on oak to give them structure.  While a nice Chablis from France would be a good choice, great Greek options include:

Ktima Pavlidis Assyrtiko - it has great acidity but spends a small amount of time on its lees (dead yeast cells), which gives the wines a creamy texture while preserving the lovely floral aromatics.

Gentilini Robola - A grape variety that is known for weight on the palate and blossom notes on the nose.  it has great acidity and can hold up to the Easter meats as well as the lighter dishes as well.

Rose Wine
For me, nothing says springtime and warmer weather like rose.  Rose offers the best of both worlds - they have great acidity and are lighter than red wines so they can be served chilled and offer a refreshing alternative to red wine.  Even though many prefer the pale salmon colored rose wines, I prefer the darker colored, more full bodied rose wines for the Easter meal.  Options here include:

Mercouri Lampadias - The Mercouri Estate is located in the Western Peloponnese, near ancient Olympia. Lampadias is a unique blend of the Italian grape, Negroamaro, Syrah and the Greek grape, Agiorgitiko.  it is a beautiful rose color with bright acidity and floral notes.  This wine pairs amazingly well with asparagus, spring peas & ham.

GAIA 14-18h - The name refers to the amount of hours the juice & the skin remain in contact for color extraction.  This rose is a red wine drinkers rose - it is more full bodied with subtle tannins and great acidity. This wine is a true crowd pleaser.

 Red Wine
When pairing red wines with the delicate meats of Easter, big, oaky styles are NOT your friend.  They overpower the food and typically do not have enough acidity to balance with the meal.  Look for lighter styles of wines including Oregon Pinot Noir or Sicilian reds made from local varieties.  From Greece, look for wines that are either unoaked or lightly oaked.  For me, with warmer weather, I turn towards unoaked red wines to give me great acidity and subtle tannins.  Options here include:

Karavitakis Little Prince Red - made from the Cretan varieties Mandilari & Kotsifali, this is a 100% unoaked wine that has some pepper and wild herb notes - perfect with lamb.  Serve slightly chilled

Spiropoulos Porfyros - This option is a bit more mainstream and is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc & Merlot.  This wine has seen some time in the barrel, but is not an overpowering oak-y style. Guaranteed to be a hit with your "big red" wine fans.

You can find these wines in retail shops across the country - if they do not have them in stock, ask them to order them for you.

Best wishes for a Happy Easter!!!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Your ticket to spring - Thymiopoulos Boarding Pass 2014

Your ticket to spring!

If you live on the on the East Coast of the United States like we do here at Athenee, you are dreaming of warm spring weather, birds chirping, flowers blooming and most importantly, No Snow!!!  In order to get us in the mood for spring, which is less than 3 weeks away officially), we have begun receiving the newest vintages of our white & rose wines.

Thymiopoulos Boarding Pass is made from 85% Malagouzia & 15% Kountoura Blanc, a local grape variety found in central Greece.  Boarding Pass is is the perfect wine for warm spring days - bright fruit, balanced acidity and a pleasant finish.  It pairs well with spring dishes filled with tender vegetables like spring peas, baby lettuce, ramps and lamb.

Boarding Pass is fermented 100& in stainless steel and is then left "sur lie", i.e. the wine is left in contact with the lees of the fermented wine, to develop a rich texture & complexity.

Be on the lookout for the 2014 vintage - we just received it and it's making its way through our distribution channels.

Meet Tsipouro - Ouzo's elegant cousin

Tsipouro, Greece's version of a must-based brandy distillate, has been produced and consumed for centuries and is traditionally consumed in the countryside.  Until recently, most of it has remained within Greece or within the EU.  Much of it had not made it to the US because of compliance reasons.  However, that has changed.  Greece has submitted the paperwork to the US government that provides the regulations & laws surrounding Tsipouro production, which now allows us to use the name "Tsipouro" on the label (in the past we were obligated to call them "Diluted Grappa Brandy" - not very appealing).

Our portfolio includes Tsipouro from Katsaros Distillery, Tsikoudia (the Cretan name for the spirit) from the Cooperative of Sitia, and in the near future, several spirits from  the Tsililis Distillery which will include Dark Cave, a 5 year barrel aged tsipouro in addition to grape varietal distillates.

Tsipouro results from the distillation of alcoholically fermented pomace (grape skins) which remains in contact with the wine, until distillation. Grape marc distillates exist also in other Mediterranean countries, such as Grappa in Italy, Eau-de-vie de marc in France and Orujo in Spain.  

Copper pot stills at the Tsililis Distillery

Tsipouro's history is a lengthy one.
For centuries, it was the secondary product of viticulture and domestic wine production. It was considered "the black sheep" of wine and it was always related to the life of the middle-class Greek.
Tsipouro was present in everyday moments of rural people, in joys and sorrows and it became a hallmark of the Greek hospitality.

The first reference to grape-marc distillate appears in Ancient Greece during the Hellenistic period, mentioning a drink named "trimma" which was produced by the boiling (distillation) of grape skins.
The art of distillation evolves during the Byzantine era at the monasteries of Agio Oros (Mount Athos), in Athos Peninsula.  The monks of Mount Athos taught the monks of Meteora in the secrets of distillation, in a region where viticulture is witnessed since the Paleolithic Era. In the prehistoric cave of Theopetra, archaeological excavations revealed the presence of grape seeds.

Until the 15th century, the art of distillation of tsipouro expands to surrounding areas. In Epirus, Macedonia, the rest of Thessaly, and Crete as well as in many other parts of Greece. For many centuries, tsipouro was produced amateurishly by villagers as a way of reclaiming grape pomace, which would otherwise be discarded. Merchandising of small quantities was allowed, always in bulk, within the county and neighboring counties, as any kind of bottling was forbidden, in order to enhance the income of farmers and residents of border regions.

In 1883, the official Greek Government established the first law on the taxation of alcohol and in 1896 the first official licenses are given for the production of tsipouro. In 1989, with the relevant establishment of  National and European legislation on drink spirits (Law 1802/1988 and Reg 1576/1989), production and bottling of tsipouro is allowed to official distilleries. This represented a huge shift for the qualitative evolution of tsipouro as it contributed significantly to the development of the culture of distillation and to the flourishing of tsipouro’s industrial production. 

With the latest revision of the regulation for spirit drinks in the EU (Regulation 110/2008), tsipouro is established as an exclusively Greek product produced from grapes which are grown in the Greek land and which are distilled within the country.

With such a rich history, I encourage you to seek out Tsipouro and it enjoy it well chilled straight up.  We are proud to offer several options of this spirit and look forward to increasing the items offered in the near future.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Domaine Papagiannakos - Welcome to the Athenee family!

Domaine Papagiannakos - the entry
We are pleased to announce the inclusion of Domaine Papagiannakos in the Athenee portfolio.

Domaine Papagiannakos is located in the Mesogaia area of the Attica region of Greece.  The winery was established in 1919 and is now under the guidance of the third generation of the family.  The vineyards contain a mix of indigenous Greek & international grape varieties, including Savatiano, Malagouzia, Agiorgitiko and Merlot.

Our first shipment is on the water and will soon reach US shores and will include: Savatiano, Malagouzia, Savatiano Vareli, Erythros, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon & the small production dessert wine, Melias.  The winery's Retsina is expected to enter distribution in April or May.

For more information on the wines we are importing, click here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The world through rose colored glasses - Athenee's rose offerings for 2015

Nothing says spring (and the hope for its quick arrival) more than rose wine!

This year, Athenee has imported five rose wines from many regions in Greece, from grape varieties ranging from Agiorgitiko, Moschofilero, Tempranillo (yes, you read right!) and Syrah.  

Since many of these wines are produced in small quantities, keep your eyes peeled for them.....

Upcoming event in NYC - Meet & Greet with Yiannis P from GAI'A Wines

Interested in meeting one of Greece's finest winemakers? 

Yiannis Paraskevopoulos

Join us on Thursday, February 26th 2015, at The Greek in Manhattan's Tribeca neighborhood and meet Yiannis Paraskevopoulos of GAI'A Wines.  Yiannis will be there from 6-7:30pm and the restaurant will feature GAI'A Estate 2007 poured from a magnum.  The 2007 GAIA Estate is considered one of the finest vintages of the past decade from Nemea.  The 2007 vintage is the only one that GAI'A has released in a large format bottle, which makes it extra special!

The Greek will also feature the winery's 5 year barrel aged Assyrtiko vinegar in dishes such as their horiatiki salad & grilled octopus and will have bottles for sale that evening.  GAI'A Vinegar is a fantastic product that is becoming a favorite among the foodie community in the US and is the only Assyrtiko vinegar currently for sale in the US from Santorini.

We look forward to seeing you there!

The Greek is located at 458 Greenwich St, NY NY