NewsThe Wineries of Southeast Attica

The Wineries of Southeast Attica

A visit to Greece isn’t complete without tasting wines from Attica. The hot, dry region is home to the country’s most planted white grape, Savatiano, which produces the famous resinated Retsina wine. Today, many Attic wineries honour traditional techniques while embracing modern standards. Here are four to try on your next trip to Athens.

Papagiannakos Winery

Vassilis Papagiannakos is a leader in the reinvention of Greek wine, winning international acclaim for his wines that have the mark of quality and character. He is a master of single-variety vinification, utilizing the vineyard to create wines that reflect their unique terroir. His passion for the grapes and his modern winery that he designed on bioclimatic principles have helped him win many awards and recognition.

His family has been involved with grape cultivation in Attica for over a century, and when Vassilis took over the winery in 1999 he decided to focus on the Savatiano varietal. He believes that the variety is well suited to Attica, as it has adapted over time to the area’s climate and terroir. This is evident in the quality of his wines, as they are well balanced and full of citrus flavors.

In his vineyards, he practices low yielding plantings of Savatiano with an emphasis on preserving the quality of the grape. He also focuses on identifying the micro-climates in his estate, to produce wines that are specific to the vineyard and the terroir. He is a champion of Greece’s indigenous varieties, and has produced benchmark interpretations of Savatiano, Malagouzia, and Agiorgitiko.

This particular wine is a single-vineyard, non-irrigated, Savatiano from vines over 50 years old, located in Markopoulo, southeast Attica. The grapes are carefully harvested in mid-September, and the wine is aged in stainless steel tanks at controlled temperatures. The wine has a fresh and aromatic nose, with aromas of white flowers, wild orange, lime, and citrus. It has a textured palate with citrus and mineral notes, complemented by a refreshing saline acidity.

It is a dry, medium-bodied, and zesty wine. This is a perfect wine to pair with salads, light fish dishes, and grilled meats. It is very balanced and has the classic pine and citrus flavors that make Retsina so famous. It is a great choice for both veterans and newbies to this unique local style. The aroma is full of pine and floral, with lemony citrus on the palate that lingers in the finish.

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Markou Vineyards

Since 1875, four generations of the Markou family have been devoted to cultivating the vines of Keratea and its surroundings. Today, their vineyards produce a range of PGI Attica wines from the grape varieties Savatiano, Malagouzia, Assyrtiko and Roditis as well as Retsina and single varietals. Their winery is in a stone building capped with a wood roof. The family has embraced organic and sustainable practices and aims to produce the highest quality wines with complete respect for nature. Organised tours and tastings can be arranged.

The warm, dry climate of Attica is known for producing a number of classic Greek wines, including the resinous Retsina traditionally infused with pine sap. But the region also produces crisp whites such as Moschofilero and Assyrtiko as well as fruity reds from Xinomavro, Mavrodaphne, and Roditis. And, higher up in the mountainous central part of Greece, you can find full-bodied Xinomavro wines with aromas of dark cherry and licorice.

In this fertile and historic wine-growing region, you can visit some of the finest Greek winesries for a wine tour and tasting, and one of the best is the family-run Markou Vineyards. You can sample the complex Savatiano dry wine, the Theros-Amphora from Assyrtiko which is 30% fermented in amphoras, and a Retsina with no added sulphites. Other wines include the Malagouzia, a rose from Assyrtiko and Muscat, and the reds Echoes and Mandelaria. The winery is a member of the international Biodynamic Institute and uses the natural environment to create unique, distinctive wines.

It was the first winery in Greece to be designed and built according to innovative bioclimatic standards. You can learn more about the history of the winery and its winemaking philosophy at a presentation that is held at the cellar every Saturday at 2pm. There are also a number of guided tours of the vineyards and the winery each week. The cost is €5 per person and includes a taste of four wines. The tour lasts about 90 minutes. Reservations are required. Call ahead or go to the website for more information.

Zoinas Winery

Zoinas is the oldest and biggest winery in northwest Greece. Their facilities and design are impressive but it is Vassilis Hatzimichalis’ understanding and commitment to indigenous varieties that has really put them in a different league. They have worked hard to lift Savatiano, Greece’s most planted white grape variety, to new heights with wines such as their single vineyard ‘Vientzi’. Other wines include the ‘Savatiano-PGI Attica’, “Phenomena-PGI Attica”, “Kleftes-PGI Attica”, ‘Schinozhiko-PGI Attica” and ‘Mandilaria-PGI Attica’. In addition they produce a sparkling Debina, an unfiltered red Malagousia and a retsina ‘ANODOS’.

The vineyards are spread out over the wider Lavreotiki area which is dominated by Savatiano. They also have a small holding in the mountainous Zitsa region where they cultivate foreign red varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc with indigenous Assyrtiko.

The winery makes wines using the Charmat method and the ‘Debina’ sparkling wine is a blend of three indigenous grape varieties, debina, vlahiko and bekari. This is a refreshing and crisp wine with aromas and flavors of cherry, strawberry and green apple. It can be enjoyed on its own or with shellfish and risotto.

For the still wines they use traditional methods and respect the character of the grapes and the soil. The wines are matured in oak barrels for a minimum of three months and they have been awarded many prizes. The wines are characterized by their freshness, fruitiness and minerality.

As well as their wines they have a restaurant and offer guided visits and tastings. The winery also holds social and cultural events. For those looking to stay there are two beautiful guest houses in the old winery buildings. These are also available for rent. The winery has made a lot of investment in recent years to modernize the cellars and vineyards. The company is also engaged in agrotourism and the vineyards have been planted with olive trees, vegetables and other crops that are suitable for organic farming. A visit to the winery is highly recommended. The staff is very friendly and helpful. They speak English and German and are passionate about their wines.

Glinavos Winery

Domaine Glinavos was established in 1978 by oenologist Lefteris Glinavos. He studied wine production in Bordeaux, learned the fine art of oenology and returned to Greece with the goal of marrying the local traditions with modern wine-making techniques. His efforts and dedication were well received and won him major awards in national competitions.

Today the estate is run by his son Thomas, who follows in his footsteps. He has expanded the business by introducing a large production line of sparkling wines and elegant still white wine from Debina as well as tsipouro from other Greek varieties.

Glinavos’ vineyards are located in the semi-mountainous region of Zitsa Ioannina, a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) zone that is more reminiscent of Austria or Switzerland than Mediterranean Greece. This high elevation with limestone soils produces bright acidity and racy minerality.

This particular wine is made from 97% Debina grapes, the indigenous white variety of the region and 3% Vlachiko (another local grape). The result is a full bodied wine with a dry finish. The wine has aromas of apple and butter with a hint of oxidation. The palate is rich, refreshing and very balanced with notes of cinnamon and vanilla.

The winery offers wine tours around their vineyards and tsipouro tasting as well as workshops and demonstrations. A visit to the winery is a must for all wine lovers. It is a place to learn about Greek wine and enjoy the best that it has to offer.

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