The Demystified Vine

Taking the mystery out of wine exploration!

Whether or not one likes dessert, or dessert wines for that matter, I think that at least once in a person’s life, they should actually TRY a dessert wine with a food pairing just to see how wine can express itself. When we go out for dinner (or we have a gathering in our home), it’s always nice to end the meal with a little bit of sweet. Typically, this might consist of a cake, pie, or other baked good alongside coffee or tea. The question is, how many people have actually tried dessert wines with their dessert? Is this a matter of not really thinking about buying a dessert wine to go with dessert? Is it because one isn’t well versed in dessert wines and wouldn’t know what to buy to match the dessert? It works. Try it. Ask me questions; I can help!

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Photo ©Valerie Stride 2012

Of course, as mentioned in The Wines of Greece Part I, Greece is well known for their dessert wines. Muscat is grown in large areas around Greece, and to be honest, it does really well there. Samos is known for its complex and satisfying “Nectar”, which, if you really think about it, sounds oh so delish.

The muscat wine “SAMOS”, with a guaranteed appelation [sic] of origin, is produced from the grapes bearing the same name, the famous Samos Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, cultivated on the slopes of Mount Ambelos, on the traditional island tiered terraces (“pezoules”) up to an altitude of 900 meters with every hectare carefully controlled for a low yield.

(Union of Vinicultural Cooperatives of Samos)

Controlled yields of any type of grape crop provide an opportunity for a winery to present the very best of the very best that their winery can offer. In other words, the best fruit is harvested, pressed, and vinified into small batches. The downside of the deal: more labour and higher prices for smaller portions of wine.

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Photo ©Valerie Stride 2012

As mentioned earlier, Samos Nectar is probably the most well known out of all of Greece’s dessert wines. It commands stature, and so it should. A rival for Sauternes from the Bordeaux region, Greece’s Samos Nectar is just one of those dessert wines that you should experience at least once in your life. Yes, I used the word experience instead of “try”.

Nectar is a wine crafted from sun-dried grapes that have been patiently aged in oak barrels over a period of three years. It is most comfortable when accompanying hefty sweet and sour dishes, such as wild boar roasted with quinces or duck à l’orange. Needless to say, Greek traditional honeyed desserts such as baklava and walnut cake are friends of long standing to this wine.

(Union of Vinicultural Cooperatives of Samos)

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Sticky lemon chicken
Photo ©Valerie Stride 2013

Strangely enough, the above quote also mentions a dinnertime dish. What am I leading you to believe? Or at least try to believe? Dessert wines can indeed go with dinner. Funny thing, that! The sweetness in any edible dish, whether a dinner or dessert plate, accompanied by a dessert wine creates a perfect experience. Shall we comfortably say that the unimaginable is imaginable? One rule of thumb with food and wine pairing is that things “cancel” each other out. Two sweet things combined together don’t seem so sweet when tried together. What you are left with are the true nuances of the food and drink.

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Photo ©Valerie Stride 2013

I was able to try a Samos Nectar at the Wine Bloggers conference, and I was not converted. That is merely because I didn’t have to be converted, but you know…

The Samos Co-Op Nectar 2001 White Muscat was a lovely sexy sugar bomb! Notes of grape (typical for the Muscat varietal), cotton candy, raisin, bread pudding, caramel, and butter toffee were all seducing me. Too bad I had to share. Would have paired perfectly with creme brulee, pecan pie, or a simple plain cheesecake. I’m trying to type, but I’m finding it difficult.

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Photo ©Valerie Stride 2013

I also had the opportunity to try the 2004 Sigalas Vinsanto made from Assyrtiko and Athiri. This dessert wine was luscious; it presented itself to me as sweeter than icewine. If you’ve had icewine, you’ll know that that implies this Vinsanto was sweeter than sweet. It was a most beautiful amber colour, with notes of raisin, floral candy, toffee, and caramel. Surprisingly, it was light on the finish as compared to what I was expecting.

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Photo ©Valerie Stride 2013

Lastly, a 2003 Parparoussis Mavrodaphne Patra was available for the tasting. This wine was cloudy, and the expert at the table was mentioning that some dessert wines are unfiltered. It was hot; the alcohol let off fumes in my mouth. However, the bouquet and palate made up for it: sweet raisins, gooey caramel, hints of coffee, and crunchy toffee made this dessert wine seem like the perfect liquid candy bar.

I’m so pleased that I was able to have the experience of trying some of the wines of Greece, and as a result, I’m intrigued by what else they have to offer. I wish, once again, that we had more of their wines in our market. I do hope that this four-part series on the wines of Greece has intrigued you, too. Go out and find some of their wines and give them a shot…or a glass, for that matter. You just may find that they become your next big fascination.

Cheers!

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