A Greek Wine Alternative to Pinot Noir? Domaine Economou Sitia 1998

Today’s wine is much respected in “underground” Greek wine scene. Due to it’s rather small production, I wasn’t lucky enough to taste it until recently. Damn … was missing much!

Domaine is run by a long experienced oenologist: John Economou. He studied in Alba, and worked in Germany and Bordeaux (Chateau Margaux) as well as Piedmont, under the guidance of Nebbiolo masters, like Ceretto and Scavino. But home was calling up for his return to the island of Crete in 1994, where he decided to work with the family vineyards, in one of the most southern terroirs of Europe.

Domaine Economou Sitia 1998 label (made by Liatiko grape)

Grape is the indigenous Liatiko, or to be more specific, a small berried clone of it, exclusively cultivated in Crete, Ziros plateau. The above 80 year old vines are organically treated and yields are naturally kept low, focusing on quality rather than quantity.

Liatiko shares many characteristics with a good Burgundy Pinot Noir: Marl soils, light garnet color, leather & herbal notes with evident spice, but all of them with some “value added services”, like floral notes and orange zest! This is Greece’s contribution to your palate diversity!

Tasting note: Medium garnet color. Developing nose of medium intensity with amazing complexity: Black cherries, blueberries, much leather, and even more herbal (thyme, and some cedar). Oak treatment is hardly found, with some smoke and even less vanilla, indicative of the great job done in winemaking. A lovely exotic sweet spice blanket covers on top (cinnamon, cloves and some white pepper) with a distinctive orange / mandarin note, and a floral finish of violets. Mouth of medium+ acidity, and many excellent velvet tannins, as domaine’s approach is to release the wine almost after a decade of cellaring. Body is medium+ and flavor intensity high, reminiscent of nose aromas, but in a more ripe way. Long sweet lasting.

The exotic spicy aromatic character of the wine, with it’s orange notes makes it ideal for eastern, meat dishes. Try an orange stuffed duck, or a local Cretan Gruyere cheese.

Already fully enjoyable but has potential for 10 years more.

Grape: Liatiko 100% (later vintages utilize some Mandilaria)

Alcohol: 14%

Retail price in Greece: about 25 euros / 35$

Score: 92

Value for money: Excellent

Winery website: wineryeconomou.blogspot.gr

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