My quest for undiscovered Greek treasures has brought me to the winery of the Markou Vineyards in Attica. After a few bumps in the road, due to travel restrictions, I was really excited to finally meet the Markou family. The first thing I noticed about the winery was the size of it, but that was before I truly understood all the faces of the company. Markou Vineyards is part of the Ampelones Markou Group, which also includes a wine museum and several restaurants.
I was greeted by Maria and her cousin Vasilis who took me to their cellar. I was surprised to hear that there is only a team of seven people (including them both) that are responsible for the winemaking, vinification, bottling, and marketing of the winery. With this knowledge, the wine becomes even more authentic and attractive! The family tries to stay true to successful traditions from the past but adds an innovative spin, which is reflected in the methods of winemaking and in the wines.
For example, authentic methods of aging wines have been reinvented in order to keep up with modern demands. Wine gets aged in big glass bottles with a plastic cover, as shown in the picture. The idea behind this is the journey the wine makes within the bottle so it will develop more interesting characters.
The exposure to oxygen is reduced, which leads to a slower aging process that helps preserve the fruity characteristics of the wine. Back in the day, the cover of these bottles would be a big rush basket, but they would tend not to be sufficient for high volumes of wine aging and cannot always be reused over and over again. This aging method is part of an experimental aging venture for a specified quantity. Oak barrels are still the main method of aging used for both red and white wine. Funny to see how the barrel influences the wine and vice versa. For me, this would be the ideal topping for a coffee table actually.
Anyway, let’s talk about all the amazing wines the winery has to offer and I have got to taste!
Primarily only native Greek varieties would be produced here, but also in an innovative way. Of course with my limited knowledge of Greek wines, this was all very exciting for me! After being introduced to Savatiano and Retsina earlier in the week, the Markou family showed me another potential of the many-faced Savatiano grape! One of the first wines I tried was a Savatiano aged in a wood barrel. Even though the wine showed many notes of aging like oak, creamy yeast, lemon curd, and a touch of vanilla, the typical tones of lemon peel with the saltiness of the sea are still well preserved. Resulting in a complex and nicely balanced wine. You can have it with rich fish, creamy pasta, or creamy cheese.
Actually, the name of this wine is very well fitted, because it is in fact a ‘phenomena’. The interaction between aromas, taste, and aftertaste will just blow your mind! It also changes with every sip you take. The wine labels were designed by Maria and she also added a little poem on the bottle, which I found very cool. I love the romantic image that wine and winemaking create and this just plays right into it! This all shows that even though winemaking has been an art form and craft going back thousands of years, it can still be modern and innovative. Especially when the wine tells a story and shows you the hard work and passion put into it by the owners of this winery. It of course always helps when the content of the bottle is as great as this one!
Apart from the popular and native Savatiano, the Markou family also produces the country’s pride Retsina. As explained in the previous blog is a wine enhanced with the resin of pine trees. I have heard about the history of Retsina and the bad reputation it faces today. It is such a shame that the amount of resin is not regulated by the government, but is left up to the choice of the winemaker. When the basic wine is not great or even faulty, the resin can be used to cover up mistakes, of course leading to a poor quality wine that only tastes like pine resin. The winery of Markou controls the amount of resin in order not to overcome the natural components of the grape. So when you shop for Retsina, you have to be on the lookout for this difference in quality. This was a lesson I learned first hand, as I bought a bottle of Retsina on my way home at the airport. However, thanks to trying the high quality of Retsina at Markou Winery, I was able to tell the difference from the one I had bought. Lesson learned!
One of the other remarkable wines, they were actually all remarkable, was Agiorgitiko. This is a native grape variety from the region of Peloponnese, more to the south of the mainland. This variety produces reds that are full-bodied but have smooth tannins. A lot of dark fruit characters are present, such as black raspberry, blueberries, and blackcurrant, finished off with some oak and spices like cloves and nutmeg. Match it up with slow-cooked lamb or even ewe. The name of the line is called echoes and I assume it has something to do with how the tastes echoes further on within the aftertaste, that is quite long by the way. The label is finished off with another beautifully written poem by Maria from the Markou family.
From the Agiorgitiko grape a rose was also produced. When discovering new wines, grape varieties or regions, my mind can’t help but compare it to the stuff I know. So in my mind I tried to compare this one to rose from the Provence. Which is not fair, because all these wines have their own identity and often surpasses the thing we compare it with. This rose is a perfect example. I have liked it a lot better than any French rose I have tried, because it has body, power and character! Spiced strawberries and raspberries, with a subtle touch of violets. Drinking this wine, will really lead you to ‘euphoria’!
Once again, this blog is to short to write about all the beautiful wines they produce. I highly recommend a visit to this winery, or to the restaurants they own, the family will give you a true culinary adventure! Did you also know that the winery is open (restrictions in mind) for weddings, corporate events, baptisms and many more!
It can be found on the address below:
Tel: 210 6037933 // 210 6644711