In a sense, Greece finds itself in a similar situation with what occurred in Italy and Spain, though trailing by a number of years. In those countries, lesser-known regions had to develop confidence in their indigenous grapes and traditions, as well as an infrastructure that would permit them to send the best examples of these bottles to faraway places.
The process is not quick, and can be slowed even more by producers who try to emulate styles that seem successful in international markets. We’ve seen that in Greece, with plantings of popular red varieties like cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah, used to make powerful, oaky wines. We saw the same in Italy and Spain.
Just as those countries gained confidence in their own traditional varieties, so has Greece. Each of the 12 wines I’ve selected is made from Greek grapes like xinomavro and agiorgitiko, which the rest of the world has gotten to know, and a few like mavrodaphne, mandilaria, limniona and vlahiko, which global consumers may get to know in the coming years.
Greece even has a nascent natural wine culture, motivated as much by resurrecting traditional practices as by working with fewer chemicals in the vineyard and less intervention in the cellar.
Those bottles, identified by questing importers like Eklektikon and DNS Wines, among others, are some of the most interesting. But like most natural wines, they are made in small quantities and so many be difficult to find.
My 12 selections are far from the only Greek reds worth seeking out. 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 consult a previous article on Greek reds. Or, if you prefer whites, the selection from Greece is excellent and more widely distributed.
If you can’t find any bottles, remember that this is the early stages for Greek reds. I’m certain the selection of good, distinctive Greek wines will only grow.