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As one of the oldest wine producing countries in the world, Greece has millenia of experience and expertise when it comes to viticulture, and has developed a set of flavors and characteristics which are found nowhere else on earth. The ancient Greeks revered and deified wine, and were the first true innovators in the history of wine, adding everything from seawater to honey and spices in order to find exciting new taste combinations and aromas. Today, Greek wines are just as varied, although far more refined and sophisticated than their ancient counterparts. The practice of enhancing Greek wines with aromatic substances never left the country, though, as can be seen in the popular Retsina wines, which use pine resin to provide their unique taste and aroma combinations. There is far more to Greek wine than merely Retsina, however, and the vast variety on offer is a testament to the expertise of Greek wineries making the most of the wonderful climate, terrain and grape varietals they work with.
The Greek wine region of Macedonia is one with a very long and troubled history, and the beginning of the twenty-first century saw winemaking there almost disappear forever. A combination of political upheaval, war, mass emigration and the devastating phylloxera epidemic devastated this ancient wine culture, but enormous effort over the past one hundred years has seen a truly impressive revival of one of the Old World’s oldest homes of fine wine. This massive investment and the dedication of both local and international winemakers and businesspeople has restored the glamor to Macedonia, and taken it to the world stage with renewed gusto and confidence, on the back of excellent and uniquely Macedonian produce.
The region of Macedonia is split into several sub-regions, but the most famous and widely renowned is that of Naoussa, which is located on the beautiful slopes of Mount Vermion. There, the fine, mineral rich soils, and the cooler climatic conditions result in a delicious set of full-bodied, richly flavored and complex red wines made from the region’s native grape varietal: Xinomavro. This grape can be found all across Macedonia, and the wines it produces range from the strong and densely flavored, to lighter bodies varieties and sparkling wines. Vintners in the region have also found great success with imported French varietals, and Macedonia continues to go from strength to strength.
If you're looking for a Greek white wine packed full of interesting character and a wide range of unique and surprising aromas, then the wines made from the Malagousia grape varietal are unlikely to disappoint. Although this grape is said to have originated in and around Nafpaktos, in Western Greece, it is now most commonly grown, cultivated and processed in Greek Macedonia, where it is used to make high quality white wines of a highly aromatic nature. Indeed, Malagousia is renowned for producing wines which are full of unusual aromas, with many wines holding traces of jasmine, mint, citrus and exotic fruits, and occasionally a whole lot more.
It was the famous Greek wine maker Gerovassiliou who was said to be the first to experiment with the Malagousia grapes, which were previously used mainly by smallholders and families to produce simple house wines. Gerovassiliou recognized that Malagousia had the potential and the characteristics necessary for producing excellent quality wines, and before long, vineyards were being planted across Macedonia, the Peloponnese and Attica. Today, wines made with the Malagousia grapes tend to be full bodied, with a noticeable tannin content elegantly interplaying with the mellow, medium acidity of the wine. Such roundness allows all of these interesting and exciting flavors and aromas come forth, making for a truly fascinating and unique wine.