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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.
Known as Syrah in most countries around the world, and Shiraz in Australia and certain other regions of the New World, this grape varietal has proven over the centuries to be one of the most powerful and flavorful red wine grapes there is. It is now one of the planet's most widely grown grapes, and is a favorite with wineries as a result of its robustness and versatility. It isn't easy to identify many characteristics of this particular varietal, due to the fact that it is highly versatile and shows significant differences in flavor and character depending on the terroir it is grown in, and the climatic conditions of the region. However, Syrah is most widely associated with full bodied, strong and loud red wines, packed full of fruity and spicy flavors, held in a beautifully deep red liquid.