There is an abundance of French, Spanish, and Italian wines in New York City’s finest restaurants and liquor stores. Somewhere along the way, Greece lost its presence in the United States. In response, the importers at Eklektikon are enthusiastic about sharing a new wave of Greek wines throughout the city. In fact, Greece holds the record for the longest history of consistent wine-making; plus they have over 300 indigenous varietals of grapes. This makes for rare and interesting flavors and complexities that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
PRINT., a popular farm-to-table restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen, teamed with Eklektikon importers to give a taste of unique wines made be the Dougos Winery in Greece. Wine has a wonderful way of embodying the history and culture of a region. The wine-making process, the soil, and the label on the bottle are among the qualities that each contribute to the story of a wine. Dougos Winery tells a special story from start to finish. It sits at the foothills of Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece. It’s been said in Greek mythology that the great Olympian gods made this mountain their eternal home. The terrain is stony and the ground provides organic nutrients that create distinct and surprising tastes.
Dougos is best known for their PDO status of Rapsani. Just as authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese can only be from Parma, Italy; Rapsani can only be made in one of two places in the world. It is created by organic vinification and it is a beautiful wine. The medium-bodied red wine has a good structure with tannins and a softness on the finish. It’s complex, but smooth freshness paired well with seared scallops in a black trumpet mushroom sauce. In contrast, the Rapsani Old Vines red wine is made from thick vines that are at least 50 years old. Both Rapsani and Rapsani Old Vines consist of 34% Xinomavro, 33% Krasato, and 33% Stavrato grapes—all of which are indigenous to Greece. The Rapsani Old Vines has more density with a spicy nose and bright red fruits.
As the snow and icy sidewalks begin to melt while Spring brings fresh air, now is the time to start thinking about trying new and adventurous white wines. Dougos Winery makes an elegant Sauvignon Blanc called Cantharus—a reference to a wine vessel in Ancient Greece that was always full and never empty. It’s 100% Sauvignon Blanc and has an elegant roundness that I find many other Sauvignon Blancs lack. Notes of honey, melon, apple and pear are most apparent versus the more herbaceous and citric varietals found in New Zealand. The wine was paired with hamachi crudo and a citrus garnish that complimented the qualities of the wine. I would recommend this wine with other light fish and summer salads with citric dressings.
Eklektikon is hoping to expand their reach from the northeast to include Washington D.C., Florida and California within the year. For us New Yorkers who are looking to try Greek wines this Spring and Summer, check out Dougos wines served at Molyvos, Oceana, Nerai, and PRINT. If you prefer cooking in your own home, you can make a stop by wine stores: Sussex, Steel and Oak, and Astor Wines & Spirits. They are worth keeping an eye out for and are reasonably priced considering their high-quality.