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2005 Boutari Moschofilero, Mantinia (Peloponnese), Greece

OK. So I’m on a bit of a Greek wine kick these days. Trying to poke my nose into potentially up-and-coming wine regions. Although, as I’ve mentioned, Greece would be entering perhaps it’s “third time around” as a major global wine region. Certainly there’s a lot of wine made in Greece, but less than historical times, and only some of it is gradually winning acclaim on the world market for being high quality.

Quality seems like it has two ways of building in the marketplace of any wine region, at the well-financed hands of the big guys, and in the passion of the little guys. Of the former, a winery named Boutari is certainly a perfect example. Once it was a little guy too, but that was a long time ago. Founded in 1879 by Yiannis Boutari, the winery has been likened to the Mondavi of Greece.

Boutari is as close to a household name as they come in Greece, mostly because of the first red wine that the estate produced: Boutari Naoussa, a wine that the family still produces over 100 years later. Naoussa was essentially Greece’s first premium estate red wine, and became even more popular at the hand of Yiannis’ son, Stelios Boutari, who took over operations of the winery in 1935 and made Boutari the country’s leading wine producer.

Stelios, in turn, passed the reigns to his two sons in the 1960s, and it is still run, though as a much larger holding corporation, by one of them, a gentleman by the name of Konstantinos Boutari. His daughter, Marina, representing the fifth generation of family involvement in the brand, is now their of their Director of Corporate Communication.

What was once a family estate outside of the town of Naoussa is now a network of six winemaking facilities and many more vineyards throughout Greece. Boutari now has a presence in Goumenissa, Santorini, Attica, Nemea, Paros and Crete, where they grow a mix of indigenous varietals such as Assyrtiko, Vilana, Thrapsathiri, Athiri, and Moschofilero along with more familiar (and less fun to pronounce) names like Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

This wine is made of 100% Moschofilero, which should be pronounced “mosque-oh-FEEL-arrow,” and drunk with a similar flair. Made from grapes grown in the high elevation AOC region called Mantinia on the Peloponnese peninsula. The Mantinia region is an extremely cool growing region where white grapes (these are actually pink skinned!) are often not harvested until late into October. The grapes for this wine are picked ripe from vines between 15 and 35 years old, and fermented for 15 days in steel tanks, which are also used to age the wine for three months before bottling.

Full disclosure: I received this wine as a press sample.

Tasting Notes:
Light, straw-colored in the glass, this wine has an appealing nose of star-fruit, pears and a light wheat-like aroma. In the mouth it is lively with acidity and has a pleasant body of pear and citrus flavors that continue, uncomplicated to a modest finish that has a hint of bitter citrus zest, like you might expect from kumquats. It’s a wine that wouldn’t be hard to imagine going through two or three bottles of over the course of a languorous shellfish dinner at some tiny oceanfront restaurant somewhere on the Mediterranean.

Food Pairing:
Did someone mention fresh grilled sardines with chopped herbs? Mmmmmmmm.

Overall Score: 8.5

How Much?: $13

This wine is available for purchase on the internet.

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