Domaine Mercouri 2004
It’s somewhat ironic that given the birthplace of winemaking and bacchanalias is the tiny peninsula in the Mediterranean known as Greece, wines from Greece are completely off the radar of all but the geekiest of wine drinkers. The casual drinkers I’ve talked to don’t even know that Greece makes wine – and that’s a shame given the modernization of Greek wine and the incredible bottles of juice coming from that storied land.
Luckily for us, wine making has improved somewhat from the days of Homer, and with modern wine making techniques comes much greater degrees of pleasure. However, there is an ‘honesty’ to these wines that somehow eschews any sense of overmanipulation, and even, in some ways, modernity. I suppose the Greeks are marching to their own drum right now, and the only shame is that more people aren’t discovering these wines.
My low quality photo of this bottle shows the low-lighting circumstances under which I consumed it, but don’t let the fuzzy picture of the decidedly kitchy bottle sway your opinion: this is very high quality wine. Clearly made in a Bordeaux-like style, the blend is comprised of the unique grapes Refosco, transplanted to Greece from Italy in the 19th century, and Mavrodafni, an indigenous grape. The winery itself is located in the western Peloponessos near the village of Korakohori. A wealthy cotton merchant from Alexandria, Egypt, Theodore Mercouri, founded the estate in 1860. Theodore’s son built the first modern winery on the estate in the 1930’s, but it fell dormant in the 50’s. In the late 80’s the family revived the estate, and now it’s making some pretty amazing and modern wines. I also found it interesting that apparently this estate started by producing fairly high alcohol wines, but over time decided to go for a rounder, softer style. As a result, this red wine, the estate’s flagship, clocks in at a reasonable 13% abv, and in my opinion is all the better for it.
How does it taste? In a word, mellow. In a Lou Reed kind of way. The nose had soft red and black fruits and very nice expressive fruit. Underlying that I got chocolate and earth. The palate really impressed me. Soft and plush, but also reminiscent of autumn leaves, while still providing full and round red and black berry fruit. Matt’s suggestion that this was similar to a Bordeaux I think is quite accurate, although I would add that its softness makes it more accessible and easy drinking, while its autumnal qualities give it enough depth for repose. Really you owe it to yourself, and to the founders of the western wine making tradition, to grab a bottle of this unique and eminently drinkable wine.
Very Good+ to Excellent
$37 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars