A Greek White to Banish Old Preconceptions

Christoforos Pavlidis Drama Thema White 2008
James Molesworth
Posted: May 5, 2010

Greek wines have an uphill battle to climb here. The country had a history of oxidized and resinous whites, along with pruny, dull reds. The local grape varieties aren’t exactly well-known outside of their home country, and Greek wineries don’t help themselves much with labeling that often combines Greek and English. But ultimately, quality is in the bottle, and if the wines can be as good as the Christoforos Pavlidis Drama Thema White 2008—for only $19—it won’t take long for savvy consumers to catch on.

Christoforos Pavlidis is a young winery, founded in 1998, and this white is fermented in stainless steel and then aged for three months on its lees (the sediment remaining after fermentation) for added texture. The Drama Thema blends the indigenous Assyrtiko grape with 60 percent Sauvignon Blanc—and the tired, resinous style of old Greek whites is nowhere in sight. The 2008 wine is bright and tangy, with racy citrus peel, tarragon and chive flavors backed by a mouthwatering finish. it cut like a knife through some lightly breaded chicken cutlets that had a dusting of piri-piri on them (a small, hot pepper used frequently in Portuguese and African cuisine). A delicious 89 points, non-blind, and a hopeful sign for Greek wine.

WineSpectator.com members: Get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated Greek wines with very good and outstanding ratings.

Member comments   4 comment(s)

Markus Stolz — Athens, Greece —  May 5, 2010 2:25am ET

James, the quality at the Pavlidis estate is picking up every year. The young winemaker Nikos Karatzas is extremely talented. I find that the Thema white is dominated by the Sauvignon Blanc on the nose, but ruled by the Assyrtiko on the palate. It is one of those wines that gives pure drinking pleasure.


Ioannis Papadakis — Athens, Greece —  May 6, 2010 9:10am ET

James,I think this is the second time that you review (unofficially, since you are not the official W.S. reviewer for Greece) a Greek white. I think the previous one was a Moschofilero, probably from Nassiakos. Since you are a wine critic that I, as a fan of the Rhone wines, regularly follow and respect, please allow me to suggest a number of Greek white wines that will more than confirm your statement that "quality is in the bottle":
- Biblia Chora Estate Ovilos White 2008
- Sigalas Santorini and Santorini Barrel (any vintage)
- Argyros Estate Santorini
- Gerovassiliou Chardonnay and Viognier (2007, 2008)
- Gentilini Robola 2008
These are just a few examples of the new generation of Greek wines.
Markus, your radar does not miss a single comment on Greek wines! Bravo!


James Molesworth — Senior Editor, Wine Spectator —  May 6, 2010 9:16am ET

Ioannis: Thanks for the list. I've had the Sigalas and Domaine Gerovassiliou wines - also very tasty.

There's is definitely good stuff going on in Greece these days...and hopefully the Pavlidis folks will start sending their wines in for review so my colleague Kim Marcus can include them in his coverage of Greek wines.


Tom Miller — Vestavia Hills, AL —  May 12, 2010 5:13pm ET

James,

Thank you for having the foresight (or serendipity) to try a Greek wine. There are a lot of vinous surprises out there from unheralded young winemakers who are just looking for a break. After viewing Matt Barrett's web site (greektravel.com), I managed to try his "favorite" Greek wine, Methymneos. Winemaker Yannis Lamprou has managed to craft a white wine and a red wine from organically farmed grapes on the island of Lesvos that are made from a unique varietal called chidiriotiko.

The 2008 white (called a blanc de noirs) is an excellent sit-on-your-back-porch-and-pound-it-down type of wine that would also match well with fish and shellfish. The 2008 red has the color of a rose' with nice strawberry fruit that gains additional depth with airing. Just think - two very nice (1) organically-grown wines (2) from Lesvos made from (3) a totally unique varietal...a marketer's dream.


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