In a sense, Greece finds itself in a similar situation to what happened in Italy and Spain, although it has lagged behind by several years. In these countries, lesser-known regions needed to develop confidence in their native grape varieties and traditions, as well as an infrastructure that would allow them to send the best examples of these bottles to faraway places.
The process is not fast and can be slowed down even further by producers trying to emulate styles that seem to be successful in international markets. We’ve seen this in Greece, with plantations of popular red varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah, used to produce powerful, oaky wines. We have seen the same in Italy and Spain.
Just as these countries have gained confidence in their own traditional varieties, so has Greece. Each of the 12 wines I have selected is made from Greek grapes like xinomavro and agiorgitiko, which the rest of the world has come to know, and a few like mavrodaphne, mandilaria, limniona and vlahiko , which consumers around the world may experience in the years to come.
Greece even has a nascent natural wine culture, motivated as much by the revival of traditional practices as by working with fewer chemicals in the vineyard and less intervention in the cellar.
These bottles, identified by questing importers like Eklektikon and DNS Wines, among others, are among the most interesting. But like most natural wines, they are made in small quantities, so it is difficult to find them.
My 12 selections are far from the only Greek reds to discover. Different regions of the United States and other parts of the world will have other bottles available. If you can’t find these wines, you can check out a previous article on Greek reds. Or, if you prefer whites, the Greek selection is excellent and more widely distributed.
If you can’t find any bottles, remember these are the first stages of Greek reds. I am sure that the selection of good, distinctive Greek wines will only grow.