Monemvasia, Laconia Red "Monemvasios"
Monemvasia, Laconia Red "Monemvasios"

Monemvasia, Laconia Red "Monemvasios"

Peloponnese, Greece 2014 (750mL)
Regular price$33.00

Monemvasia, Laconia Red "Monemvasios"

Greece and Portugal, folks. These resurgent wine nations are the value capitals of the world right now, as this Agiorgitiko-based red deliciously confirms. It’s a standout among standouts, a wine of uncommon complexity that is nearing the decade mark in truly impressive style. The winery is called Monemvasia (so named for the beautiful island city on the east coast of the Peloponnese peninsula) and this wine is called “Monemvasios,” effectively a Greek analog to a “first wine” from a Bordeaux château. If it hailed from Bordeaux, in fact, people would be falling all over themselves to get some, given how much wine there is to be had for such a pittance, but because the label’s in Greek, it may need an extra push. Well, consider this not just a push but a shove: ignore this magnificent, scandalously inexpensive red at your own peril. 

Monemvasia is not only the name of a town in the Lakonia region of the Peloponnese, but the name of a grape variety which, confusingly, is mostly grown on the Cycladic island of Paros these days. Monemvasia the place is an ancient port city in the southeastern Peloponnese and is considered the birthplace of the Malvasia grape. Then there’s Monemvasia the winery, founded in 1997 by Yorgos and Elli Tsimbidi, who, in addition to Malvasia, cultivate a total of 30 hectares of indigenous Peloponnese grapevines, including what is arguably Greece’s most noble red variety, Agiorgitiko (ah-your-YEE-tee-koh).

Native to the Peloponnese and now the most-planted red variety in Greece, this Agiorgitiko hints occasionally at other more-familiar grapes (some compare it to Italian Sangiovese), but ultimately, it is incomparable. There’s a lot of dark berry fruit and warm, wintry spice but also remarkable brightness and aromatic lift. It’s a red wine that feels both deep and substantial and light on its feet at the same time. The Tsimbidis farm organically and are committed to showcasing indigenous varieties exclusively, here blending Agiorgitiko with about 10% of the rare Mavroudi grape and aging the wine in French oak barriques (70% new) for 12 months before bottling. The wine is then left to age in bottle for an extended period before being released into the market.

To say that this 2014 is in its “sweet spot” is putting it mildly: This wine, given 15-30 minutes to awaken from its slumber, is putting on a show. It still displays a relatively youthful garnet hue with only the slightest hint of orange at the rim, and the oak-derived notes of warm spice and vanilla have receded into the background in favor of lots of dark fruit and Mediterranean herb notes. The aromas are a perfumed mix of crushed blackberry, brandied cherries, black plum, bitter chocolate, nutmeg, violets, and Mediterranean herbs. It is silky and balanced, medium-bodied, and quite lively on the palate—the tannins are fine, the alcohol moderate, and the acidity bright and mouthwatering without being sharp. Given how much life is still left in this wine, a 6+ bottle purchase will surely be rewarded with more thrills a few years down the line, but my advice is to get some of this in your glass as soon as humanly possible: decant it about 30 minutes before serving in Burgundy stems at 60-65 degrees, keeping an eye out for (slight) sediment. Obviously, you need to cook something Greek to go with it, even if you don’t normally cook anything Greek: The spices in moussaka are tailor-made for this wine, so have at it—this is an experience you won’t soon forget.

Monemvasia, Laconia Red "Monemvasios"

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