What We Drank With The Greeks (When I Had No Greek Wine)

Vinted on October 3, 2013 binned in crowd pleaser wines, elegant wines, kick-ass wines, wine review

1,200 bottles of samples in the basement, and not one Greek wine among them.

What. The. HELL?!!?

This would happen to me, since I was on the hook for bringing wine to a family dinner date with our neighbors, the Voutsakis clan, who you will have already suspected by reading their name are Greek and would be cooking homemade Greek fare.

The Voutsakis family (father, mother and three young children) is as easy-going and neighborly as they come, thankfully, and for nearly the entire day leading up to our dinner Lorelai was practically beside herself with freakish five-your-old joy at the prospect of playing for hours with their kids (anything for the only child to be able to escape grown-up talk for a few hours, right?). So we weren’t going to let the severe lack of Greek wine samples deter us.

But while the Voutsakis patriarch, Frank, is a lawyer by trade, he’s an aesthete by heart, and we frequently go off together on conversational tangents about politics, literature, wine, and geekish things like the relative importance and levels of raw talent between composers Mahler and Sibelius (you know… important stuff!). He’s also the author of a well-received novel about life in Greece in the 1920s (The Sapphire Elixir), in which wine plays a not-unimportant role. Soooo… I wanted to make sure we got some Greek-food-friendly but also serious (and potentially seriously good) juice.

Here are the samples upon which I took my chances…

For starters: Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut (Champagne, $47)

I’m a P-J fan in general, so I figured I wasn’t rolling the dice too rashly with this one, though I’d never had it before. Really, the only thing missing from this in terms of making it an “ah-ha! now I really get Champagne!” moment is some floral action on the nose. Otherwise, it’s enticing green apples and baked bread, with a hint of nuts and a steely disposition. In fact, this is about as dry and steely as Champers comes. We popped this open to pair with bread, crackers and cheeses, and we had to exercise serious restraint to leave enough in the bottle for late-arriving guests.

For the salad: 2008 Coppo “Monteriolo” Chardonnay (Piemonte, $55)

Greek salad and aged Chard.? It worked, because of this wine’s salinity, (remaining) acidic verve and long-ass finish. Otherwise, this is really a Chardonnay for richer fare; honey, white flowers, toast, buts, lemon verbena, and an elegant and smooth approach. A crafty one, not to be trusted (because it goes down so easily that it will knock you on your butt before you know what hit you).

For the main: 2009 Coppo “Pomorosso” Barbera d’Asti (Barbera d’Asti, $75)

A double-shot of the Coppo (and yes, I did have Copacabana stuck in my then-cloudy head for a long time afterward). The sweet oak was still too prominent for my personal tastes, but otherwise this was classic Barbera territory, just dressed up more seriously, like someone in one of those Knights of Columbus uniforms (hat and all). Chewy, tart, vibrant and spicy, it’s kind of a seductive wine. It did a love number on the roast pork we had for dinner, anyway.

Dessert: 2007 Inniskillin Cabernet Franc Ice Wine (Niagara Peninsula, $100)

I’d been looking for an excuse to bust this sample open for years, and it finally came in the form of not having any Tawny Port samples available in those 1,200 bottles. And that it was a weekend. And that… uhm… we survived another week. And that we’re still carbon-based life forms consisting mostly of water. Ok, whatever. This was good enough that I don’t even remember what we had for dessert (and dessert was pretty good, by the way; I do recall that much – hey. we’d been drinking, okay?). Cranberry, strawberry, raspberry, all very “pure,” with a hint of vinyl, spicy herbs (yeah, Cab Franc!), and a dollop of awesome. Viscous, vibrant, and with a finish lasting as long as the French and Indian War. I enjoy teasing Canadians as much as the next American (hey, Canadians, see what I just did there?), but in this case our Great White Northern brethren deserve a tip of the hat.






  • passionatefoodie

    Us common folk, without a mega stash of free samples, would have just bought some Greek wine. :)

    • 1WineDude

      Richard – c'mon, man, this is about wine, not about common sense!!! :)

  • parkersanpei

    We love how much you thought about the heritage of your guests. Plus, you made some delicious wine choices. :)

    -The Dish http://thedishbypspr.com/

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, dish :-)

  • Chile wines

    Hahaha unvelibable how with 1200 wines you couldn't find any Greek one! Hopefully when a chilean family visit your house you'll have some reaaly good Chilean wines for them ;) .. but for being sure you can visit us to know more about Chile wines.

    Chile is a well known wine producer and we produce one of the best Chilean wines of all. We offer bulk wine, bag in box wine,private label wine and wholesale wine. Be ready for that chilean visitors!

    • 1WineDude

      I admire your hustle. A little SPAMmy, but you’re hustling. You’ve obviously not been paying attention to my twitter reviews lately, which involve some Chilean wines (incidentally, I shared some of those with the same neighbors last night…).

  • gabe

    PJ is my guilty pleasure champagne. so gooey and bubbly and delicious!

    • 1WineDude

      Gabe – yeah, it's hard to turn them down; and this one was actually svelte (well, by PJ standards, I mean :-)

  • Alana Gentry

    I want that Cab Franc ice wine, Joe. Are you on Delectable? Please say yes! I'm not on my iPad at the moment otherwise I'd look you up. I just want to remember that wine since it may be years before I actually get around to it. PS: My 90 year old Greek neighbor who has seen passed loved Grappa, so I bought him a bottle every Christmas.

    • 1WineDude

      Alana, believe it or not, I'm not on any wine apps!

      • Alana Gentry

        I believe it because until Delectible came along I didn't like any apps out there. (I'm not a rep for Delectible btw). But man it would be so cool to have you take a pic of the wines you like (say B+ or A) and just put the letter grade next to the pic. That's all it would take because Delectible does the rest. Then I could track all those wines that you score every week that I will never be able to keep track of.

        • 1WineDude

          Alana – c’mon, don’t make me add yet another time sink to my list! :)

        • 1WineDude

          Alana – cmon, don't give me yet another thing that will turn into a time sink! I've got too many already! :-)

  • Alana Gentry

    Girl's gotta try! ;)

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