Great Greeks – Time for some Drama


“Mmmmm…this is good! I like it a lot. Sweet plums and licorice.”

The Greek terroir hunt continues. Discovering and learning about Greek wines has so far been this year’s eye opener for me. Never would I have thought Cephalonia could produce such great wines as the Robola and Eclipse from Gentilini. Or that Crete lodged a Rhone ranger. So, should I be surprised when popping the wines of Ktima Pavlidis – a modern Drama producer – and finding two delicious, character filled beauties?

Nope. I’m not going to present an ancient Greek drama. The estate of Pavlidis is situated in the north east corner of Greece, in the region of Drama. Founded back in 1998, the estate, owned by Christoforos Pavlidis, has specialized in indigenous grapes blended with more internationally well-known varieties. And why not? We all know what a little helping hand can do. Just ask Sangiovese what a little Cabernet Sauvignon does to the end result.

At Mount Falakro, Christoforos found what he was looking for. A micro climate with hot days and cold nights at an altitude ranging between 200 and 450 meters above the sea level. Calcareous soil and a most welcome afternoon wind coming in every day. Together with the talented enologist Nikos Karatzas the focus has been to produce high end quality wines using the indigenous Agiorgitiko and Assyrtiko together with Syrah respectively Sauvignon Blanc. Should one Greek grape be considered as internationally recognized it is Assyrtiko. But then most consumers think of the Santorini wines. The Drama version is quite different due to the totally contrasting
terroir. And in the case of Ktima Pavlidis, the fact that Assyrtiko is blended with Sauvignon Blanc do result in a wine with little Santorini resemblance.

For the red blend the combination of Agiorgitiko and Syrah seems to be a real successful match. Just like Syrah, the Agiorgitiko can handle sun and heat well. The indigenous grape is mostly linked with Nemea wines but it thrives in the infertile soil at Mount Falakro. What Agiorgitiko lacks, Syrah provides – body and to some extent, acidity.

The wines of Ktima Pavlidis are just another great example of a terroir more consumers ought to learn about. Throw away prejudice and stop thinking terroir as a trademark of the more classic wine countries. (As if Greece weren’t one of those!) Why not learn about the Macedonian terroir of Drama? Here goes!

2009 Thema, Drama, Assyrtiko and Sauvignon Blanc, 88-89 p

Light yellow color with a greenish touch. What a refreshing nose! Lots of lime peel, hyacinth, marigold, passion fruit, pineapple liquid and humus. On the palate it offers lots of acidity, lime like, and a dry mineral driven wet rocks taste. Not as floral and exotic as in the bouquet which just makes the wine even more fascinating – and tasty. Some white peaches and passion fruit. Long, refreshing and clean finish. Assyrtiko and Sauvignon Blanc; what a nice couple they make. Can easily hold for another year or two. The fact that it stays three months on the lees, gives an extra touch and mouthfilling character to the wine.

Pairing: Grilled swordfish served with a gentle caponata. The acidity in the wine and food delicious together.

2007 Thema, Drama, Agiorgitiko and Syrah, 89-90 p

A night harvested wine. The red Thema stays one year in barrique and a further eight to ten months in bottle before it is released. This is the one that rendered in the quote at the top. When my wife likes, Syrah is often involved. Dark color with a slight maturing brim to it. Big nose with scents of dried leather, tobacco, Victoria plums, herbs and roasted hazelnuts. Opening up in the glass and later on notes of humus, iron and salami can be added. Some maturity on the palate. Dark cherries, plum skin, humus, nutmeg and iron. Some toasted oak as well. Elegant tannin structure, a good amount of fruit and a long tobacco and dried fruits finish. Modern but still with a sense of origin. Will probably develop for some years, say two or three?

Pairing: Roasted chicken with bacon on the top, root veggies – also roasted – fresh rosemary and thyme. Sacrilicious…

For Europeans, both wines can be found here. US consumers, here.

PS. Ktima Pavlidis do cultivate other varieties as well.