Where God blesses Wine. Holy Mountain Athos Trip (Pt. 1)

This is the story from the trip we made to the Monastic State of the Holy Mountain. Pt I is about what we tasted before entering the autonomous state.

It was during the “open doors” event of Greek wineries, when we found ourselves enjoying a seafood lunch at Lykos winery, South Evia island. Hey Stavros. Are you interested in joining us to a (wine) trip to Mount Athos? Well, it was a long awaited opportunity, and the decision made immediately. I’m in! Arrange me an entry license! It was the official beginning of one of the most amazing trips I’ve ever had …

Day 1: Following a four hour driving from Athens, our first stop was planned for Litochoro, a beautiful village just under the foot of Greece’s highest mountain, Olympus. It was into this majestic scenery, where Andreas Gavris, a -relatively- recently well respected chef, had already made a multi-course lunch for us. The pleasant surprise, were the wines and spirits kindly offered by a dentist in profession, Lefteris Rizos. A well-educated and passionate amateur winemaker. He produces a fine multi-varrietal, dual distilled spirit (Tsipouro) full of anise, mastic, coriander and fennel aromas. It made a perfect match with traditional (but well modernized :)) Greek starters such us Octopus, cuttlefish & wild mushrooms.

The flavors and smells of Greece: sea-bass, chickpeas and fresh coriander

The flavors and smells of Greece: sea-bass, chickpeas and fresh coriander. Paired nice with Lefteris’ white.

Next in line, a top rated dish of Andreas, made by sea-bass, chickpeas and fresh coriander, full of flavors and smells of Greece. Matched by Lefteris’ white blend of three indigenous grapes: Malagouzia, Assyrtiko and Savatiano, fresh, highly aromatic with decent acidity. Last dish, a finely cooked lamb with the company of the red wine, made by Cabernet, Merlot and two indigenous grapes: common Xinomavro and uncommon for Northern Greece, Mavrodafni.


The crazy team: from left: George Tranos, Panos Kontos, Kostas Marlasis, Alex Sakkas, My self, Lefteris Rizos, Andreas Gavris, Vassilis Patakis

Next stop, to the beautiful town of Katerini. It was there, where Alex Sakkas had planed an introduction to wine tasting and food pairing to local audience. The concept was about two of the most well known Greek wine regions: Santorini and its Assyrtikos, as well as Naussa and its Xinomavros. The event was hosted by a young, but very talented chef Kostas Aivazoglou, at Apolafsi restaurant.

Hats off to Alex and Kostas for this beyond any expectation lineup:

  • Sigalas Assyrtiko 2012 & Feta cheese mouse on a layer of barley bun
  • Argiros Estate Santorini 2011 & Fava (the famous Santorini split peas), carrot comfit, octopus and hazelnut
  • Avantis Estate Santorini 2012 & mackerel filet and marinated zucchini
  • Chateau Pegasus, Markos Markovitis, 2007 & finely fried giant beans with a concentrated tomato sauce
  • Diamantakos Naoussa 2009 & Kefalotiri fried cheese with mushrooms
  • Boutari Grande Reserve Naoussa 2004 & pork tagliata with legume puree
Gems of northern Greece terroir. His highness: Xinomavro

Gems of northern Greece terroir. His highness: Xinomavro

Feeling proud for those top wines, we left for our hotel, full of expectations for the day to come.

OK, not the most exciting story you’ve ever heard so far, but trust me, and stay tuned for Pt II where we enter the Autonomous Monastic State of the Holy Mountain, visiting Tsantali wines.


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