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The wines of Domaine Gerovassiliou, Epanomi, Greece

Epanomi 57 500, Thessaloniki, Greece
Tel: +30 23920 44 567 Fax: +30 23920 44 560
Website: www.gerovassiliou.gr

There are some benefits to being a wine journalist. I tasted these wines at a fabulous dinner with Evangelos Gerovassiliou, held at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant at Claridge’s. Present were Evangelos, two of his colleagues from Greece, George Lemos (whose company, Vickbar, imports these wines into the UK) and three journos: Charles Metcalfe, Steven Spurrier and myself.

Although I don’t like using the word ‘best’ when it comes to wine, Gerovassiliou is clearly one of the very best (if not the best) producers in Greece, and I’m not just saying this because I got a nice dinner out of them. The wines are really interesting.

We started off with the delicious Malagousia. It’s an ancient Greek variety that almost became extinct. 30 years ago an agronomist called Professor Logothetis, who was a collector of rare, ancient varieties, took a cutting from somewhere in Northwest Greece and it was planted at Château Carras, where Evangelos was working – he was winemaker with Carras for some 20 years until he went full time with his own estate. At the time Carras were investigating the potential of different varieties with the help of Logothetis, and Evangelos vinified the grapes from some 23 different varieties in his trials. He recognized the potential of Malagousia, so when he started his own domaine he planted in as one of his key white grapes, along with Assyrtiko and imports Viognier, Chardonnay and Sauvignon. It makes a really impressive white wine.

Gerovassiliou Malagousia 2003
This is a semi-aromatic wine with honeyed, melony fruit and lovely texture and length. Soft and quite rich, with good minerality – a lovely wine. Very good/excellent 92/100

The domaine is family owned and consists of some 40 hectares of vines. Integrated pest management – a system that minimizes agricultural inputs such as fungicides and insecticides – is now practiced. It’s located in Epanomi, a short distance south from Thessaloniki in Northwest Greece. The next wine was a Viognier, which you'll no doubt be aware isn’t a traditional Greek variety.

Gerovassiliou Viognier 2003
Quite dense and plump textured. Lovely peachy fruit with subtle herbiness. Nice bright rounded character with hints of vanilla and coconut, but fortunately these are well in the background. An attractive wine. Very good/excellent 91/100

Now it was the turn of the reds. I’ve been pretty convinced by many of the white wines coming from the top estates in Greece over recent years; less so by the reds. Would these be any different? They were. Yes, these are made in quite a modern style, but they are striking wines. One of the features of Gerovassiliou is that the imported varieties exist alongside the traditional Greek ones, quite happily. I guess the pressures of the modern marketplace push producers towards recognizable names, but from a wine nut's perspective, I hope that more producers begin to explore the potential of the traditional varieties using modern viticultural and winemaking practices.

Gerovassiliou Syrah 2001
Dark colour. Lovely sweet, open nose showing dark fruit that possesses some vanilla richness and a roasted edge. The palate is sweet and seamless with good richness of fruit. Very ripe and open with good density and a roasted, spicy edge. Soft centred. Sophisticated and with good balance, albeit in a modern style. Very good/excellent 92/100

Gerovassiliou Avaton 2002
A blend of Limnio, Mavroudi and Mavrotragano. Elegant, savoury, dry spicy nose showing earthy black fruits. The palate has some fruit richness, which is backed up by nice spicy structure. Really nice balance. Modern and fruity but with a lovely structure – a fantastic wine. Very good/excellent 93/100

I’ve also added here some notes from May 2004, when I tasted some more of the range:

Gerovassiliou Malagousia 2003
This white wine has a very fresh, distinctive nose: aromatic and fruity with a lemony edge. The palate is rounded and fruity with notes of mango, a lovely texture and some gentle herbiness. Beautifully fresh and appealing. Very good/excellent 90/100

Gerovassiliou Fumé Sauvignon Blanc 2002
Fresh grassy, herby fruit combines well with the rich, toasty nutty oak on the nose. The palate is concentrated, nutty and herby, with a rich rounded texture. This is quite brilliant. Very good/excellent 91/100

Gerovassiliou Chardonnay 2002
Quite an assertive fresh, nutty, herby nose showing some melony richness. The palate shows rich mango and peach fruit with some nutty oak. Well made. Very good/excellent 90/100

Gerovassiliou Viognier 2003
Very ripe, open tropical fruit nose with a youthful limey edge. The palate is nutty and fresh with good acidity. Crisp and tasty. Very good+ 88/100  

see a more recent review of the Gerovassiliou wines (April 2009 and January 2007) here

see also: tasting notes of other Greek wines

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