Wine of the week: Greek to me

Here’s where blinkered vision can take you: I was reading about the severe problem of the Greek economy in the papers this weekend, and, having just had an absolutely superb bottle of Agiorgitiko the night before, my first thought was, “Why don’t they just make and sell more Agiorgitiko?”       
       Of course, the problems of corruption, cronyism, and ineptitude are not going to be alleviated by any amount of wine, however good. In meantime, there is that Gaia Estate Agiorgitiko 2006, from Nemea, in the Peloponnese (the large, scraggly land mass just below the mainland). I’m amazed that the grape doesn’t have a better reputation, but that seems to be because of very high yields in the flatland vineyards that make it something of an ordinary workhorse grape.
       In the hills above (this one is grown at heights of 500-600 meters), the grapes produce a brightly purple, velvety, plummy wine, spiked with a bit of fresh, blackcurrant  vibrancy. Although it’s deliciously distinctive, it was often used as a blending wine, to improve more ambitious wines with color and liveliness. Rather backward thinking. Isn’t that where we came in?

"Natural wine" -- let us begin. . .

The first time I ever knowingly tasted an organic wine, more than 30 years ago, it was poured by a bearded, sandaled, sweetly sincere winemaker in Mendocino, California, and I have never again been so grateful to see a spit bucket. Good manners prevented me from pointing out that the wine might have had a better fate if it had been mixed with olive oil and drizzled over the salad (also organic, of course) rather than poured into a glass for consumption by someone you didn’t loathe.
       The last time I had an organic wine was last week. It was a Chardonnay from New Zealand, bursting with peaches-and-cream vibrancy, and my reaction was a profound sadness that I didn’t own a cellar full of the stuff (for the record, it was Clos de Ste. Anne “Naboth’s Vineyard” 2008).
       It  may well be that you could duplicate a similar set of opposing experiences next week or next year, even during the same tasting, festival, or dinner, but, increasingly, if you are willing to believe that organic grapes and winemaking are the way forward, you’ll never walk alone.
       In fact, you’ll have a lot of company. It may not always be the sort of company you’d wish—there will probably be some shouting involved, even jostling—but the promise of better wine should keep us marching down the road.
       Shouldn’t it?
copyright 2010-2015 by Brian St. Pierre