One of the most exciting tastings to be ever made in Greece, was yesterday’s flight of a legendary red wine: Chateau Porto Carras red blend, all way back to the time that I was … breast feeding! The hosts Grigoris & Giannis gave us the opportunity to verify once more that, Greece can make wines of great value for money, capable to age well for decades.
But first a few words for the winery as posted at their web site: It was built in 1970 and along with the vineyards, set a milestone in the Greek wine industry. It’s location in a valley, was chosen to be invisible to the passer, both from the road and the sea, thereby protecting the beauty of the landscape. It is also worth mentioning the extremely significant contribution of the father of modern wine-making, University of Bordeaux Professor Emile Peynaud, who assisted in developing the first “Greek” Cabernet Sauvignon. Ideally adapted to the chalky and schist soils of the Domaine, allows this variety, to achieve great heights internationally, winning coveted awards, prizes and medals.
The design and selection of the Winery location at the center of the Vineyard helps in the fast delivery and process of grapes, aiming at maintaining their quality dynamics and to avoid oxidation.
The wines tasted are all similar to a Bordeaux blend, with mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, and lesser amounts of Merlot and indigenous Limnio.
Chateau Carras 2009: Still young and restless! With a nose of medium+ intensity full of black fruit, and spice, with shy oak and bacon/smoke notes. Good acidity (common for all vintages) medium body and finish. Youthful tannins that are still harsh but promising for a great ageing potential.
Chateau Carras 2006: With less new oak than 2009 (50%) but 8 months more barrel ageing, this vintage showed more ready to drink, with same nose but much more animal and leather notes, and as expected more body. Charming palate, same as nose and many tannins, that are completely tolerable but still needing some time to evolve.
Chateau Carras 2001: A really big year for the winery, and probably for the rest of Chalkidiki area (I can still recall how great was 2001 vintage Tsantali Metochi, a few miles away in Holy Mountain vineyards. Check out my report here). Amazing nose, of high intensity and concentration, with live fruit (red and black cherries, kirsch, cassis), good oak integration (hints of vanilla and more smoke) and all under a vale of black spice and earthiness. Same attractive palate, with almost chewable fruit and long sweet finish. Excellent tannic load, ready to enjoy but able to guide us for many years to come. Look after it!
Chateau Carras 1995: Things starting to get more serious in terms of evolvement. To much animal notes and some reductive scents. Obviously not a perfect bottle, but still acceptable
Chateau Carras 1993: Many claim to be the best red Greek wine ever made. Don’t know if it’s true, but I can easily qualify it to the three or four runner ups for the medal! A really big wine! What to say about aromas? After more than 20 years, and still in perfect shape. Fruit is live, just a bit lower than 2001, but a step in front in terms of complexity and maturity. First time to easily locate herbals, dark chocolate, mocha, all of them contributing to a truly seductive nose. Balance! Palate is in equal high standards: All elements in the right amount, fruit intensity, acidity, body and above all, tannins of exceptional quality, silky, melted and ready to enjoy. Strongly recommended!
Chateau Carras 1990: A bit better than 1995, with similar characteristics, but a bit more leathery. In good shape but not able to go further. Drink now
Chateau Carras 1989: My third favorite. Warning fruit lovers: from now on stay away from the rest of the wines, unless you can truly enjoy ageing aromas. Order a medium rare tagliata roasted over fresh herb coated burning charcoal, pour some truffle olive oil above and just leave the wine do the rest. Smell the mushrooms, wet forest, leaves, meat, thyme, and consider how was your life 26 years ago (ladies excluded!). For thinking drinkers!
Chateau Carras 1985: Fruit still traceable, but aging aromas dominate. Close enough to 1989, with a bit more bacon/smoke elevation.
Chateau Carras 1981: Unfortunately a bad bottle. Not rated.
Porfirogennitos 1975: meaning “the offspring born of a king” I admit that my expectations were low. Very happy that the wine slapped me in the face, and told me: “OK dear winelover, the vines that I was made of, might be babies, less than 5 or 6 years old, but thanks to my oenologist and great care, I can still satisfy you!”. And so was it: In PERFECT shape, alive, robust, complex and surprisingly structured in mouth. A wine made us proud for a 40 year winemaking history of Greece!