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Entries in sithonia (1)

Sunday
Jul192015

Sithonia Porta Carras Greece where Malagouzia found its renaissance

 

 

After a week spent on a tour of the wineries in Northern Greece my interest in the Malagouzia variety had become deeper. So since I had two more days in Greece I decided to take a drive down the coast to Sithonia Halikidiki a very popular destination for many visitors to the beautiful beaches of Greece. The peninsula lies about an hour and a half south of Thessalonika and is easily reached by car. The other side of the bay is Kassandra also well known by holidaymakers

Having visited with Evangelos Gerovassiliou an Oenologist with his winery in Eponomeo, I came to hear of the work that was carried out in the past to prevent the indigenous grape Malagouzia one of hundreds of Greek varieties) from going extinct by the viticulturalists at Sithonia.

I was met on the outskirts of thessalonika by the Agronomist- Enologist at Domaine Porto Carras and we set off on the drive down the coast while he told me the story of winemaking at Porto Carras.

We stopped off to see the sea view from up top looking out over the sea to Kassandra and to the port of Carras.The turquoise blue water and white beaches set in such a natural paradise are breathtaking.

In 1965, the first vineyards and olive groves were planted. At the same time, work on the innovative tourism Resort, which is associated with Domaine Porto Carras, began. At the time, this created a real revolution in the hotel and wine making sector in Greece. On the western side of Chalkidiki's Sithonia Peninsula, where the verdant slopes of Mt. Meliton stretch down to mingle with the crystal clear waters of Toroneo Bay, 4500 hectares of the largest organic Greek vineyards lie in amphitheatre-like formation. These vineyards are some of the largest in Europe.



The vineyards were designed by university professors from the Thessaloniki School of Agronomy and Athens Vine & Wine Institute in an exemplary manner. For the first time a systematic study was carried out on the suitability of foreign varieties in Greece. The Domaines people have respected the magnificence of this unique environment. Wherever there were forests, they have been left untouched. Thus the trees today still constitute a natural barrier, trapping the evening atmospheric moisture which helps the vines withstand the hot days of summer.The winemaking team today that I met with and tasted with are Dioni Samara and Efrosyni Drosou with a consultant in Professor of Enology in Athens Mr. George Kotseridis. The viticulture is accomplished by Dr.Leon Zikas and Stergios Giannos the Agronomist for the Estate.

In 2000 Porto Carras Grand Resort was acquired by the Technical Olympic Group of Companies. The Chairman Konstantinos Stengos, made it the purpose of his life to bring Porto Carras to the foremost of resorts and wineries, along with Yliana Stengou Vice president  who today manages the operation.

The "Slopes of Mt. Meliton" vineyards are a model of organic viniculture, in line with modern international trends, respecting the consumer and the environment.



Thanks to the exceptional climate conditions prevailing in the area, the Domaines vineyards are one of the rare cases where most vine diseases are confronted using organic processes.
Plant protection is achieved solely by using sulphur and copper so that cultivation can be certified as purely organic, moreover only organic fertilizers are used. The yield per 1000m2, which does not exceed 800 kilos, demonstrates that the viticultural potential of the area is extremely high.

The hilly areas in the region create excellent ecological conditions for cultivating the 22 select varieties that thrive on the south-western slopes at an altitude of 200-300 m. These conditions allow the Asyrtiko, Athiri, Malagouzia, Sauvignon Blanc, and Rhoditis varieties to produce the highest quality white wines.

 Malagouzia, an almost extinct variety and one of the most ancient white varieties of the world, was revived at Domaine Porto Carras. After experimental plantings, the possibilities of the variety were recognized. Thus the production of high quality and balanced wines, with high aromatic potential, began. Today about 10 hectares of Malagousia are cultivated at around 100-400 metres.
Among the red wines, the famed Greek Limnio variety, the most ancient variety in the world, referred to in texts of Aristotle, stands out accompanied by the International varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, and Syrah. Which grown at altitudes ranging from 300 to 400m, have adapted well to the cool north-eastern slopes of the region.


The winery produces 1,200,000 bottles per year with 18 labels and exports to 15 countries.

The wines, I have focused on four here.

Limnio

Type: Red Dry, P.D.O. Meliton Slopes.
Varietal Composition: Limnio.
Style: Ruby red color with spicy aromas of pepper and cinnamon. Full and easy mouth, with flavor of ripe black berried fruits, delicate tannins.

 

 

Altitude: 150 - 300 m
Soil: sandy clay.
Yield: 5.000 kg/ha.

Method of Production: Classic vinification process for red wines in controlled temperatures. Aging in French oak barrels for 12 months.

 

 

 

Arithi

 

Type: White dry, P.G.I. Halkidiki.
Varietal Composition: 100% Athiri.
Style: Bright light gold color, aroma of white flesh fruits,white Peach. Fresh and fruit forward.

Altitude : 200 - 300 m.
Soil: sandy clay.
Yield: 7.000 kg/ha.
Method of Production: Skin contact for few hours and classic vinification process for white wines, fermentation in stainless steel vats at temperatures of 16° - 18 °C

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Malagouzia

Type: Dry White P.G.I. Sithonia.
Varietal Composition: 100% Malagouzia.
Style: Greenish yellow color, blossom and exotic fruits with notes of mint. Rich and round mouth, with apricot and peach flavors.

 

Altitude: 100 - 150 m
Soil: sandy clay.
Yield: 8.000 kg/ha.
Method of Production: : Skin contact for few hours and classic vinification process for white wines, vinification in stainless steel vats at temperatures of 16° - 18 °C.

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Assyrtiko

Type: White dry, P.G.I. Halkidiki.
Varietal Composition: 100% Assyrtiko.
Style: Intense citrus aroma, minerality, high acidity a characteristic of the Assyrtiko variety, refreshing aftertaste.

 

Altitude: 200 - 300 m
Soil: sandy clay.
Yield: 7.000 kg/ha.
Method of Production: Skin contact for few hours and classic vinification process for white wines, fermentation in stainless steel vats at temperatures of 16° - 18 °C.

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 

The area of Porto Carras Sithonia with its elevated positions and its beautiful forests, aquamarine sea edged with world class beaches and leading winery offers so much to explore both for the dedicated wine enthusiast or the casual holidaymaker who can taste the wines at the winery.

The resort boasts five star hotels and a range of different accommodations. As We stand on the pool deck of the beautiful villa Galini built by the architect Kapsampelis for Giannis Carras and which hosted distinguished guests like Salvador Dali, presidents and Royalty regularly, I realise I will certainly be back.

Villa Galini is now a boutique hotel with one of the finest views anywhere in the world.

Footnote:

A note of serendipity once back in London. I realise that as I do each year, I trust the chief buyer of Hallgarten Druit at London Wine fair to let me blind taste a wine that he selects randomly. Going through my photos and notes I find that last year the wine he selected for me to taste blind was none other than the Organic Porto Carras Malagouzia. A wine I knew little of at the time, but loved.