6949256666 press@keysmash.gr


keysmash powered by dycode

I won’t hide it any longer: I’m in love with Greek wines!

This year, keen to focus my tastings on Cretan wines, I headed for the Archanes and the famous wine route south of Heraklion.

What a pleasure it is to once again travel the roads, or should I say paths, surrounded by olive trees, vines and aromatic herbs, to soak up the Cretan soul, to climb, descend, make mistakes and set off again to the sound of Greek music broadcast by local radio stations!

It’s so good to be able to take some time out to discover and share with others! And in Crete you’re rarely disappointed!

After crossing a few green hills and passing a flock of frightened sheep, I arrived at Gavalas’ home in Vorias.

Even though I was expected and the welcome was very warm, I must admit I was a little disappointed not to find the smiling Nikos to whom I had promised to drop by the estate one day… but that was without counting on the fortunes of life…

From what I understand, this means “abandoned house”, paying homage to the house at the heart of the vineyard. This change was apparently dictated by the confusion between the estate managed by Nikos Gavalas of Crete and that of Georges Gavalas on the island of Santorini. As to whether they are from the same family…perhaps a distant branch…

The vineyard has come a long way since it was first established in the early 20th century. Gone are the days of old presses and leather wineskins for transporting the wine! In addition to having been converted to organic farming, the estate has been completely reorganized, everything is automated; fermentation and ageing vats have multiplied, export to the USA and Germany is taking up space, and the tasting room shines with a thousand lights!

The wind at the end of April didn’t prevent me from taking advantage of the terrace to re-taste a few bottles. With the exception of the vidiano and assyrtico, which are aged in casks, all the other grape varieties are worked to bring out their fruitiness and freshness! The postponement of harvesting until late afternoon also contributes to this, for a highly satisfying tasting experience!

Without describing all the wines, I can’t resist a quick look at the reds, Kotsifali and Mandilari, whose color, presence on the palate, smooth tannins and simplicity are a perfect reflection of their master!

Speaking of him, here he is, still smiling! He’s not alone, he’s got a guest with him, but that doesn’t stop him from greeting me and introducing me to him…Guess who was there? Georges Gavalas, from Santorini! Two Gavalas at the same time, who was so lucky!!?? It’s immortalized!

Back in the car for a second estate half an hour’s drive away. Of course, I couldn’t resist the call of love…and I landed in Siva, at Daskalaki!

I’ve already introduced you to it in a previous review, so I won’t go back over this estate again, although I’d happily spend hours on it … Just to tell you that when it comes to finesse and pleasure, every new year transcends the previous one, and that enstikto 2022 has gained even more in aromatics, acidity, finesse and dimension!

I remain a total fan of this estate, where this time I had the chance to exchange a few words with Irini, the winemaker, and to take part in the experimental tasting of an enstikto plunged into the sea for 1 year at a depth of 20 meters. It’s amazing how much iodine is present during tasting! It’s worthy of an intuitive tasting (blind, based on the feelings and emotions generated by the wine).

But despite the joy of being here, it’s time to leave. And if it’s with regret, it’s also filled with the thrill of discovering the next vineyard!

After an evening’s rest in Heraklion, we make our way to Siga-Siga,

a restaurant with a philosophy that suits me perfectly: service and tasting of simple, good things, cooked with love and eaten with delectation, all without haste or stress! (Who can beat that?), I set off again, at 11 a.m., on the meandering path of the AOC PEZA, to climb up to the Stilianou estate.

One day, my wine merchant suggested I try his cuvée “Théon Gi” = Terre des Dieux 2016, and I must admit I was surprised by this little jewel of kotsifali/mandilari, with its magnificent color and voluptuous juice!

I meet Yannis, the proprietor, who is happy to act as a guide, mixing Greek, English and even a little French to explain his work on olive oil and wines. Everything is organic when it’s not natural!

Apart from a breathtaking view from the tasting terrace, it was interesting to discover the “Theon- Dora” (= gift from the gods) range in all its colors, where the limestone of the subsoil makes for a lovely salivation, before tasting its “Great-mother” cuvées, in white and “nature” red, which captured my attention, my nose and my taste buds! For the vidiano: 40 days of maceration, an aromatic and explosive palate of yellow fruits, served by an exceptional chewiness; as for the mandilari, it let its color permeate the bottle, and its aromas of wild strawberries and forest fruits invite themselves into my mind…

The day couldn’t have started any better! We still had to get out of this magnificent landscape, which forms a kind of basin between the various mountain ranges, to reach, “cahin-caha”, a domain of a different kind, but no less charming, whose bottles, it’s certain, will end up on my table!

Does Patérianakis ring a bell?

If it isn’t, it’s a flaw!

Unlike the small, scattered plots of land that often make up the vineyards of Crete, 8 hectares in a single block around the property make up this true “estate”, which is also feminine! The estate is now run by daughters (oenology, communications, marketing, each with her own style, and mom is a lawyer).

The philosophy is clear and also clearly stated: certified organic cultivation, minimal intervention, no casks, for authentic wines and the transcription of their terroir.

The 3.14 range, born in 2018, focusing on the most natural wines possible, was for me very revealing of the work accomplished and the level of pleasure achieved.

In addition to the wax-covered cork and green labels bearing the number of the circle of life, the unfiltered juice is no less brilliant, expressive and luminous for the vidiano (one of the best I’ve tasted on the island!); as for the red, it smells of fruit, ripe cherry, wet earth, mountain spices, all structured by tannins that subtly play the discretion card.

I almost forgot its color, but black would be an exaggeration, although… it’s unusual for a kotsifali! The explanation lies in the revival of an ancestral tradition, resulting from 2 consecutive harvests, on two different slopes, a fortnight apart, all vinified separately and blended at bottling. Effect and texture guaranteed!

I’d say I’ve saved the best for last… in any case, I’ll remember these few hours in paradise, shared with Nikos Stathoglou, from the Moinoterra estate.

I met him in Chania, thanks to Mr Vertigo, a wine merchant, who invited me to a tasting session at

the store in the presence of the winemaker. I was happy to accept!

A charming man, humble and eager to hear my impressions … what pressure for me!

Here I am, in Archanes, the wine village par excellence, where Nikos arrived in a 4×4 and invited me to get in to go who knows where… I did the right thing and left my car downstairs… I gritted my teeth and everything else a bit before arriving… in the land of the gods! No wonder we’re so close to Knossos! Overlooking the hillsides, fields of olive trees as far as the eye could see, amidst frenzied grasses with no less frenzied scents, and vines in full bloom, I felt like I was breathing for the first time!!!

On this unique terroir, Nikos had prepared a few bottles to taste: assyrtico, moscato spina, vilana, mandilaria and a brand-new rosé ready to rival our fine Provence labels!

Mass production has sometimes tarnished vilana’s image, but here’s the bottle that will restore it to your palates!

Vibrant acidity, a chalky feel, a juice mingling citrus, pear, honeyed and creamy touches, elegance, a constant evolution in the glass like a nectar in the making…

I would have just stood there dreaming… But that was without the famous Cretan sense of hospitality! It was 4 o’clock, time for lunch! Bottles under our arms, we headed back to the village, where we put our bottles on the table of a tavern where Nikos invited us to sit down! And it’s with our precious bottles that we share a pantagruelian meal, dishes galore, each fresher and tastier than the last, the colors of summer on the table and pleasure in our mouths! We must mention the tavern: Rodakinies, thank you Manolis!

It’s hard to conclude this account of 2 days in the heart of the Cretan terroir, but I’ll leave the last word to Alexandre Dumas: “Good wine makes good blood, good blood gives a good mood, a good mood gives rise to good thoughts, good thoughts produce good deeds and good deeds lead man to heaven”. I went to heaven.

Myriam Perret / La Cave de Platonie

Please follow and like us: