Episode 437 of I’ll Drink to That! was released recently, in which Erin Scala leads an exploration of the grape varieties grown on Crete. Erin offers a panaromic view of Greece’s largest island through on-site interviews with several winemakers and experts on the the history and viticulture of Crete.
The destruction of vines caused by the root louse phylloxera reshaped most European vineyards back in the 19th century, but on the Greek island of Crete the damage has been much more recent. Phylloxera arrived on Crete in the 1970s, and at a time when the Greek government itself was in disarray. The de facto response to the epidemic was often to pull out vines entirely, in favor of planting olive trees, and if you ask about the age of the many olive trees found on Crete, the response often dates their planting to that same era of the 1970s. There is a renaissance happening amongst the vineyards of Crete at this moment, however, and growers there have returned to planting native grape varieties on the island. Many of the grapes going into the ground – such as Vidiano, Thrapsathiri, Plyto, and Liatiko – are mostly unknown to non-Greeks, and Erin Scala tracks down their individual characteristics by talking with winemakers leading the charge for these varieties on Crete. Through a patchwork of interviews, Erin makes clear the extent of the change happening now on island, and serves as a guide to a zone that is recapturing some of its former glory with wine. Along her search for the new wine reality on Crete, she also absorbs some of the ancient myths that still echo in that place.
Listen to this episode:
I’ll Drink to That is the world’s most listened-to wine podcast, hosted by Levi Dalton. Levi has had a long career working as a sommelier in some of the most distinguished and acclaimed dining rooms in America. He has served wine to guests of Restaurant Daniel, Masa, and Alto, all in Manhattan. Levi has also contributed articles on wine themes to publications such as The Art of Eating, Wine & Spirits magazine, Bon Appetit online, and Eater NY. Check out his pictures on Instagram and follow him on Twitter: @leviopenswine