Great Greeks: “Smelling this wine is the reason I’m in this industry.”


Theoretically I have no problems understanding the choice of Rhone varietals only. Syrah, Mourvedre and Grenache. And Rousanne of course. The varietals are well-known for their ability to master heat. But anyone who’s visited Crete during summertime have experienced the heat which is even more extreme than in the Rhone Valley. Vatolakos, a bit southwest of Hania, is the solution. Thanks to the Lefka Ori, a mountain range, the reason for the Rhone varietals success is spelled high-altitude cultivation.

Ted Manousakis wines impresses. Not only are they extremely well-made modern wines, they are also filled with Crete character. These wines are not trying to be Rhone copies, the grapes are simply chosen since several highly respected consultants pointed in that direction when the vineyards were planted. The geological and viticultural conditions all pointed in the Rhone direction. Heck, even a rootstock specialist were consulted! Today, Laurence Feraud from the well-known Domaine de Pegau, acts as the winery’s consultant.

If the fantastic Nostos, tasted here, is more of a Northern Rhone style, the Alexandra’s represents the southern part of the French region. However, one can’t and shouldn’t talk in terms of Rhone. This is Vatolakos terroir and treated as such. Alexandra’s, a blend of Syrah, Mourvedre and Grenache, gets ten months in oak. The 2008 is a real charmer. Modern yes, but with loads of personality. The youthful bouquet delivers scents of dark cherries, dried leather, bay leaves, pipe tobacco, licorice, iron and smoky salami. With some further aeration I add scents of dried fruits. Quite a seducer.

On the palate it offers loads of juicy blackberries and a slight bitter dark cherries feel. Fine ripe tannins and a spicy tobacco and mineral driven taste. Good mouth-fill but never heavy. Elegance is its trademark. Long finish with a sweet-root and herbal touch. I am impressed and so is Gary V.

We’re having a BBQ and are tasting a glass while grilling. A spot on feeling and the perfect glass to enjoy while waiting for the loin of pork – which we have rolled in fresh herbs – are smelling more and more irresistible.

2008 Alexandra’s, Manousakis, Crete, 88-89 p

NB. The initial quote is from the Wine library  Episode 866 and Gary V’s comment while tasting the 2008 Alexandra’s. Why not spend 30 minutes to learn a bit about Greek wines?

NB.2. Europeans can buy the wine here. Non-Europeans; consult wine-searcher – or Markus Stolz if you want to pick it up in the US.