One of the greatest privileges of living in New York City is the opportunity to meet winemakers from all over the world. Recently, I was able to taste premium wines from a top winery in Greece and talk to their oenologist, Annegret Stamos, a woman originally from Germany.
How does a German woman end up in Greece? Love. She is from the northern part of Germany where most people are blond haired and fair. When she was at University, she met a Greek man with dark, curly hair who had a warm smile and kind heart, and so she followed him to Greece, married him, and took his surname Stamos – and they have been together for over forty years.
Annegret is very organized and she has great attention to detail, and hence, why she is ideal to fill the role of being responsible for quality control. After my lunch with Annegret and her team, I talked to others with regards to this winery’s reputation, and many Greek wine connoisseurs said that they were well known for their high quality and consistency.
Vassilis Tsaksarlis, cofounder and chief winemaker, was not present during the lunch, but by Annegret’s words, it seemed he was with us in spirit. He was an inspiration to her with his drive for excellence, while never accepting perfection, because he believes once a person reaches perfection, there is no more growth, and life should always be about improvement.
Ktima Biblia Chora
The Ktima Biblia Chora winery is a wonderful example of bringing people together who have a strong work ethic, adventurous spirit, drive for excellence and deep passion, no matter their place of origin. This is best exemplified by their experimental vineyard that has 30 Greek and foreign varieties ranging from Pinot Noir to Negoska (northern Greek variety). I had a chance to taste their Pinot Noir, and even though it was their first vintage, it was delicious. But Annegret said that Vassilis is not completely happy with the Pinot Noir and he intends to make it even better.
As we, in the US, go through one of the most colorful Presidential elections in the history of our country, it is good to remind ourselves that we should never judge a people by the politics that dominate them. While Vassilis Tsaktsarlis and Annegret Stamos strive for excellence in their wines, they remind us to strive for excellence in our world view. As I walked down the streets of New York City, I am reminded that not only can many different types of people live right on top of each other, but many times, they flourish in the medley of cultural diversity, which is the New York way of life.
Everyday Drinking Wine (less than $15)
2014 Muses 9 Dry White, Muses Valley, Central Greece ($14): Blend of 50% Assyrtiko, 30% Trebbiano and 20% Sauvignon Blanc. This was made by another producer in Greece who offers a refreshing white wine at a good price. Round, weighty wine with lots of juicy white peach flavors and clean finish.
Special Occasion Wine (from $15 to $50)
2014 Ktima Biblia Chora Ovilos White, Pangeon, Northern Greece ($35): Blend of 50% Assyrtiko & 50% Sémillon. The native variety Assyrtiko has high acidity and an intense minerality that is perfect for the more Mediterranean climate. Sémillon adds body and depth as an international variety known to be an important part of the blend of the top white Bordeaux wines. This wine has pretty notes of lime blossom and wet stones with a lean body that has a crisp finish. Also, their vineyards are planted at a higher altitude, which helps to moderate temperature.
2010 Ktima Biblia Chora Biblinos Oenos Red, Pangeon, Northern Greece ($35): 100% un-named local variety. This was an exciting find for Ktima Biblia Chora since they want to rediscover lost native varieties of Greece. It still has not been identified, but they know it is a red relative of Modern Greek varieties. This wine has provocative flavors with black cherry, forest floor, wild flowers and even more tantalizing aromas that are unique.
Fantasy Wine (over $50)
2008 Ktima Biblia Chora Ovilos White, Pangeon, Northern Greece (price is not known): Blend of 50% Assyrtiko & 50% Sémillon. They gave us a 2008 version of their Ovilos white to show the potential of aging. The price is not known since it is not available on the market. With only 6 years of aging this wine transformed into a complex, multi-textural and ravishingly serious white wine. Hazelnut, honey suckle, baked apple and a flinty minerality dominated this wine throughout its long finish. I suggest holding onto a few bottles of the 2014 Ovilos and you will eventually have a fantasy wine on your hands.