Wine Enthusiast Podcast: Greece’s Red-Hot Island Wines | Wine Enthusiast
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Wine Enthusiast Podcast: Greece’s Red-Hot Island Wines

It might not be easy to hop on a plane and check out the magnificent Greek Islands first-hand right now, but thankfully, there’s a world of uniquely characteristic wines waiting to be enjoyed in your glass.

Did you know that some of the most ancient and unique wines in the world are grown on Greece’s Ionian and Aegean islands, like Santorini, Crete and Kefalonia?

In this episode, Editor-in-Chief Susan Kostrzewa and Master of Wine Yiannis Karakasis take you on a virtual tour of these magnificent locales to talk through top varieties and producers, discussing the often incredible history of the vineyards and grapes along the way, as well as just what makes these wines so special.

There are a lot of delicious options to choose from, but some of the wines and varieties discussed in this episode include:

Alexakis 2015 Red (Crete); 92 points, $16
Argyros 2018 Atlantis White (Greece); 90 points, $22
Avantis 2018 Estate Malagousia (Elia); 88 points, $16

Additionally, be sure to check out additional reviews of Assyrtiko from Santorini, red blends from Crete, and Robola or Mavrodaphne from Cephalonia.

You can learn more about the country’s high-altitude vineyards, or even check out this Greek Wines from A to Z.



Episode Transcript

Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting.

Speakers: Lauren Buzzeo, Susan Kostrzewa, Yiannis Karakasis, MW

Lauren Buzzeo 0:08
Hello, and welcome to the Wine Enthusiast Podcast. your serving of wine trends and passionate people beyond the bottle. I’m Lauren Buzzeo, the managing editor here at Wine Enthusiast, and in this episode, we’re taking a virtual trip to the Greek islands. Did you know that some of the most ancient and unique wines in the world are grown on Greece’s Ionian and Aegean islands, like Santorini, Crete, and Kefalonia? Editor-in-chief Susan Kostrzewa tapped Master of Wine Yiannis Karakasis for virtual vinous tour through these magnificent locales to talk through top varieties and producers, as well as discuss the often incredible history of the vineyards and the grapes, and what makes these lines so special.

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Susan Kostrzewa 2:50
Yanis, thank you so much for joining us. I was just thinking, you know, we’ve been in lockdown here—I’m in Connecticut just outside of New York City—and we’ve been, of course like everyone in the world, going through the sort of new normal of being home and quarantined. Thinking about the Greek islands right now sounds pretty amazing to me, so I think the timing on our segment is perfect. Where are you located, Yiannis?

Yiannis Karakasis 3:19
I’m located in Athens, so central Greece, but pretty much with a good proximity to most Greek islands, especially Cycladic.

Susan Kostrzewa 3:31
So, let’s talk about those islands. I’ve learned a lot about Greek wine over the years as the Greek wine critic for Wine Enthusiast. I’ve learned a lot about the the variety of typography in Greece because I think most people do associate Greece with the islands. Obviously, we know that the mainland of Greece is extremely mountainous—lots of incredible wine regions there as well, but today we’re going to talk about the islands and the wines they produce. I think that the variety most people in the US, or at least in the wine community, associate most with Greece right now would be Assyrtiko. And Assyrtiko is a white wine variety, the origin of that wine is the island of Santorini. Again, from a tourism standpoint, anyone who’s been there knows how beautiful and unique it is. Also, just how unique the land and the volcanic soil is. So I would love for you to talk a little bit about Santorini and why you think it’s such a unique place for wines. Let’s start with Assyrtiko. What do you think that the soil and terroir of Santorini lends to Assyrtiko?

Yiannis Karakasis 4:48
I would love to talk about Santorini and Assyrtiko and explain explain this story. I think every region in the world talks about uniqueness, about possessing something unique. You go to Bordeaux, they talk about the first growths, you go to Burgundy, they talk about possessing the holy grail of Pinot Noir—and they’re right—you go to the Rhone, you can see the estate vines, fantastic soils. But let’sdescribe a little bit the story of Santorini. For me, this is something really amazing because, first of all you have centuries of viticulture. We have more than 34 continuous centuries of viticulture, you have old vines that you don’t really know how old they are. They can be 200 years old, they can be 300 years old, they can be 400 years old. You have volcanic soils with no phylloxera. You’re safe from philosophy because you have so little clay that the louse cannot survive. Then, you have the dangerously low yields. Last year in 2019 was a very challenging vintage for the island. We had five hectoliters per hectare. So we need to be technical because this is how yields are measured, or you go with with weight profile. So five hectoliters per hectare is really nothing. Then you have this amazing variety that I’m going to talk [about] separately, Assyrtiko, which is which covers around 90% of the vineyards. Of the 1,225 hectares, 1,000 hectares is Assyrtiko. These are the latest numbers I have gathered, and now’s the best part. All these are planted on the slopes of one of the most aggressive volcanoes in the history of the world that’s still active.

Susan Kostrzewa 7:01
That’s the thing that people don’t realize that it’s still still an active volcano.

Yiannis Karakasis 7:04
The last eruption was in in 1950. Besides the the major eruption in 1645 B.C., that shaped the caldera and created all this topography, we had many more—in 1312 B.C., in 197 B.C., and in 1707, when we had the appearance of many of the small islands in the center of the sea. I feel that this is really something. You have this unique combination of a breathtaking place and these amazing wines. Since you said to talk a little bit about Assyrtiko—what is Assyrtiko? It is a white variety, but how it behaves is like a red variety. It needs time in the glass to open up. It needs it needs cellaring. It is the one exceptional variety that you have alcohol of 14.8, you have a pH of, I think 278 or 285, and you have total acidity of 7.2 grams of tartaric acid. So it’s really unbelievable how this variety can preserve the acid despite reaching high levels of maturity. This is the reason that this variety is favored in many warm climate areas. You can see it in Australia, you can see it in South Africa, I’ve seen it in in Lebanon.

Susan Kostrzewa 7:20
Oh wow, I didn’t know it’s being grown in so many places. How interesting.

Yiannis Karakasis 9:14
It was a surprise for me as well when when I was in Lebanon last year with The Institute of Masters of Wine.

Susan Kostrzewa 9:29
I think, too, what you’ve been talking about is it’s such a unique kind of collection of a situation that creates this wine. I think from from an ageability standpoint, too, I learned a lot the last time I was on Santorini, just about the ageability of the wine. I’ve tasted Assyrtikos that are 10-plus years old, and they’re really just starting to show character that I wouldn’t have expected. We can talk a little bit about what Assyrtiko’s character is—and obviously that changes as it grows in different regions—but Santorini, to me, there’s a smokiness to it, there’s that salinity to it, the acid but it’s still has all that generous fruit. To me, it is a truly unique wine. I don’t think I’ve tasted anything like it before. And often when I’m when I’m trying to introduce people to Greek wine, Assyrtiko is one of the first, even though for some it can be quite surprising and not everybody loves it immediately. But I think it’s one of the best wines to introduce to people if you really want to show them what Greek wine can do.

Yiannis Karakasis 10:43
Yeah, and you have so many styles. The styles of Assyrtiko can range from the mineral driven unoaked and creamy due to lees aging, or full body due to oaking, often with some oxidativeness that in Santorini we call nychteri, and the taste of Assyrtiko, I completely agree with what you said, is lemons and soap—so simple. The fruit profile depends on the level of ripeness and the harvest date. So, if you have a, for example, in an Assyrtiko at approximately 13 or 13.5% alcohol, what you expect is a little bit of citrus and stone fruit. If you exceed 14.5%, you expect even some tropical fruit.

Susan Kostrzewa 11:43
If we can talk about some other varieties that are grown in Santorini, because obviously Assyrtiko is the famous variety, but there are other wines grown on on the island. Can you talk a little bit about ones that you think are interesting?

Yiannis Karakasis 11:55
Just to give it a context, there is a lovely book about The traditional winemaking in Santorini by George Finitanos that, unfortunately it’s only in Greek so far, and there he describes 62 varieties. Now, we talk more or less about six to eight varieties. We talk about, of course, Assyrtiko, we talk about Aidani—Aidani is more or less 30 hectares. We talk a little bit about Athiri and we talk about some rare varieties like Gaidouria, Katsano and three red varieties Mandilaria—very common in the other Aegean islands, it is 85 hectares. Mavrotragano, this is 14.1 hectares. And there is a little bit of Voudomato that most of the time is used as a rosé wine, especially by Gavalas, so more or less, these are the varieties beyond Assyrtiko. Single varietal wines, interesting examples from Aidani and Mavrotragano, and then we’ll talk a little bit about Mandilaria.

Susan Kostrzewa 13:23
I actually just did a recent tasting of some wines and had an Argyros Atlantis, which is a white blend of Assyrtiko, Aidani and Athiri, and I think not only do those wines, of course, stand on their own, but blended together, those whites are really delicious. So, I think again, you’re talking about varieties that are centuries and centuries old.

Yiannis Karakasis 13:50
Ancient varieties.

Susan Kostrzewa 13:52
Absolutely. And I want to move on to Crete in a moment, but really, I think you’re talking about some of the oldest vineyards in the world. And certainly some of the oldest continuously made varieties in the world are in Greece. So there’s been many millennia to perfect these amazing wines. So I want to move on to Crete, because I personally was just there, I guess about a year and a half ago. I spent a week there and really just was absolutely blown away by the innovation, everything—it is incredible. The food, the wine, the scenery, the people—it really is so unique. What I thought was exciting was the innovation, and meeting some of these young producers, these these younger winemakers who’ve trained elsewhere, they’ve come back to Crete and they have these amazing ideas. What I would like to talk about first is the history of winemaking in Crete because we just talked about the ancient legacy of winemaking in Greece and Crete, of course, is considered one of the oldest of the winemaking regions. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Yiannis Karakasis 15:10
Yes, I think we have evidence of grapes in Kato Zakros in the eastern part of Crete. That goes back to almost 4000 years ago. And if we go to the Vathipetro, we’ll have possibly the most ancient press house in Europe, almost 4000 years old. This is, I think, nine kilometers from Iraq, one of the main main ports of Crete. One was extremely, extremely important for the Minoan civilization and you have a lot of great remains in the Palace of Knossos and you have also an idiogram in Linear B about wine. So, the whole culture of wine goes back so many years in Greece and in Crete, specifically.

Susan Kostrzewa 16:13
One of my experiences when I was in Crete, and I’m forgetting now these vineyard that we were in, but we were walking through just looking at some vines and sort of stumbled over something in the ground. We looked at it and it was an ancient wine press. We basically did an excavation on the spot.

Yiannis Karakasis 16:34
Indiana Jones in Crete.

Susan Kostrzewa 16:38
Exactly. The vintner and I were talking and he said, “Well, this isn’t that unusual, you know, this is just how it is on Crete. We just trip over history all the time.” Obviously they value and, of course, care for these things, but I just was blown away because it’s so much a part of daily life there. Wine has been on that island and part of that culture forever. For me as an American, you know, something old here is 200 years old. You’re talking, three or four thousand years old. It’s a very different situation. So I talked a little bit about just what I’ve seen on Crete, again, from perspective of innovations and I was hoping you could talk a little bit about what you’re seeing on Crete right now that you find exciting on the winemaking side.

Yiannis Karakasis 17:35
There are many things we can talk about. First of all, this is the area in Greece that has improved its reputation so great in the last 20 years. Before that, most Cretean wine was, more or less, like rocket fuel, oxidized and drinkable for you and me. Maybe interesting for someone else, but over the last two decades we’ve seen so much progress. This is partly attributed also to Wines of Crete, this is the network of Cretean winemakers. And also to the work of specific winemakers, like Yiannis Economou, like Nikos Douloufakis, Lyrarakis…. everything is with -akis, obviously, there is so much good work. Manousakis, combining international varieties but also indigenous varieties. These are the producers that first created a way for Cretean wine, and we have so many wineries now. Focusing mainly in Vidiano. So what I see now as exciting is the expressions of Vidiano. It’s a lovely variety. We have to wait to see if it can produce the level of quality that the top Assyrtiko can do, but I think results are very promising and I like seeing so many expressions we can see with Vidiano, which is like a rich apricots fruit and fresh acidity, vinified in stainless steel in now as a skin contact wine, as a sparkling wine. So this helps the breakdown of the variety and understanding what it can produce. And then a variety that people didn’t really appreciate maybe 10 years ago, Liatiko, is reintroduced now and produces some of the best wines in the country.

Susan Kostrzewa 19:47
I’ve really liked Liatikos that I’ve tasted. I was definitely a convert when I visited and started tasting all the different expressions of that.

Yiannis Karakasis 19:58
Liatiko for me, as we’ve seen from the wines of Economou, as we are witnessing by the wines of Douloufakis, and other producers, we can expect even more things. I was talking with with Nikos two days ago for an interview an article in Greek, and he was saying that now he’s thinking about the single vineyard Liatiko, he’s thinking about Liatiko that can can be more age worthy compared to his red Dafnios, so they’re trying to explore this variety and take advantage of the good name of Liatiko internationally. For me, these are the most interesting Greek varieties, but I have to say that international varieties like Syrah like Mourvedre like Roussanne as pioneered by Manousakis are fantastic wines, and I don’t have an issue because they’re international varieties because they have been adapted fantastically in the island.

Susan Kostrzewa 21:04
Right, and they have their own unique character, clearly.

Yiannis Karakasis 21:08
Yeah, and some of the best Syrahs I’ve tasting come from Crete.

Susan Kostrzewa 21:12
What about Kotsifali? I actually had made a note of one of the wines I tasted, which is a Karavitakis called The Little Prince it’s a blend of Kotsifali and Mandilaria and I made a note of it because I I thought it was a nice, indigenous sort of blended wine that American palates you know, who might not be familiar with some of these styles and wines might enjoy and find kind of accessible. Can you talk a little bit about some of the blends on Crete?

Yiannis Karakasis 21:43
This is a traditional Cretean blend. You have the most important red varieties. Kotsifali has the aroma, but doesn’t have the color, doesn’t have the acidity. That’s something that Mandilaria adds to the blend. So if you try to make a single varietal wine from either Kotsifali or Mandilaria, it would be kind of tough. But if you blend them, you get a more complete Cretean wine. This is the signature red blend of Crete. Rather interesting, it depends on the proportion of Mandilaria and Kotsifali because you understand if you have 80% Kostifali or 80% Mandilaria, the wine is completely different. The more Mandilaria, the wine will become more ageworthy, but very tannic. Lyrarakis is trying hard presenting a single vineyard Mandilaria, but again it takes so much time to get along.

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Susan Kostrzewa 23:28
Okay, so let’s talk a little bit about some of the smaller islands that are producing great wine and I have to be 100% honest, I haven’t made it to a lot of them yet. So some of what you’re going to talk to us about I’m hoping will be my guide as well. But again, we’re talking about islands that have been making wine for millennia and I think they’re absolutely worth noting. A lot of these wines are now becoming available in states where previously they may not have been. So can you talk a little bit about some of those islands of note for you?

Yiannis Karakasis 23:59
Yeah. I would love to. After Crete, we need to start with Kefalonia. This is on the Ionian part, so the western part of Greece, not in the Aegean Sea but the Ionian Sea, which is more calm and has different scenery. It’s like the Caribbean Sea compared to them to the wildness of the Aegean. Kefalonia has eight wineries and more or less all of them focus on quality wine. So you have really distinctive wines, mainly from a white variety called Robola. Robola is lemon and fennel, very good acidity, usually unoaked, less alcohol than Assyrtiko, can have high level of freshness and minerality. You have also the dry Mavrodafni, which has been like reinvented and rediscovered now in Greece and expressed, not as a sweet wine but there is a sweet element to the variety, but as a dry wine which is very perfumed with mild talents and highlighting a lot of elegance. What they see in Kefalonia is now the breakdown of the different terroirs. We are starting to see single vineyard wines and, again, Kefalonia has interesting soils. It has limestone soils that have very good drainage and they bring something unique to the wine. They have bush vines, a lot of pre-phylloxera. There is, unfortunately, phylloxera in Kefalonia since the mid-70s, if I’m not mistaken. But there are a lot of vines on their own roots. We see some of the most amazing Greek wines now from the island. Robola, now, we see by all these producers differently. We see it from the comparative… in this style. Then we see it from Gentilini in the more mineral style. If you go to Petrakopoulos and Sklavos you see an expression which is more natural, more earthy, sometimes fatter but still fresh.

Susan Kostrzewa 26:26
What about Paros and some of these other smaller islands?

Yiannis Karakasis 26:30
I will talk a little bit again about the Cycladics. There is a there is viticulture and winemaking in a lot of them but obviously we need to talk about some of them. I would like to talk first about Tinos because we hear about more or less six or seven wineries now in Tinos. In other islands close to Athens, you go there in an hour 30 minutes and you have some granitic terroirs that are really out of this world. It is another experience and another expression of Assyrtiko and Mavrotragano. Everything started there by the Tinos Project, although there was winemaking on the island from foster winery in 1997, but the reputation was not great. So after Tinos, Tiniaki Ampelones, people were starting to invest again and now we have other wineries as well. So, Tinos is not only a religious destination now it is becoming quickly a food and wine destination. Then we have Paros. Not a lot of phylloxera there, maybe there is no phylloxera. Bush vine that look a little bit like Santorini, but they’re crawling vines. They have their own variety. They have also some great Assyrtikos. For example, Moraitis has a single vineyard called Sarakiniko—very mineral. I was really impressed by that wine, but when I look to the soil, it was poor, rocky, low yields, and sometimes the style of Santorini can be imitated in other places. And we need to talk, if we want to be fair with the terminology of island, we need to talk about Euboea. Euboea is an island, although people don’t understand is a big island and in Euboea, we have some really great quality driven producers, both on the on the northern part and the main part with with Assyrtikos, with Malagouzia, with international varieties [in islands] like Avantis and Vriniotis. In other of our areas like Patmos, Syros and, of course, Samos, we have a lot of things to discuss. I think we’re going to see more things in the islands because, for me, this is the next big thing. When when people come to the islands, they take back all the best memories, why not take also a bottle of wine? From our side, we need to be certain to offer them the best that we have.

Susan Kostrzewa 29:30
How big are these vineyards on some of these islands? Because I think you’re talking probably about pretty small yields, depending on the size of the island. Is that a challenge because there’s only so much that you can I would expect that you can expand.

Yiannis Karakasis 29:44
Yeah, the vineyards are not extended. I was informed about the project in another island. Everything is so tiny, even if you go to other islands like Chios that has a rich history around ancient Greek wine, it is very fragmented in time. But I see there is an interest and I’m hoping that in the next years, as we see the evolution of Tinos, we will witness the evolution of another island. It may be Paros. For me, Paros ticks all the boxes. It’s a fantastic destination, [there’s] proximity because there’s also an airport.

Susan Kostrzewa 30:39
Which is huge. Some of these things seem basic, but from a visitor standpoint you need to have all those, like you said, all those boxes to tick.

Yiannis Karakasis 30:50
It takes time to change the mentality of people and convince the growers maybe to become winemakers because usually there’s like something like a cooperative that takes most of the grapes and, you know, cooperatives are good, but after a point… So this is the revolution that we’re expecting. And this happens slowly in the islands.

Susan Kostrzewa 31:16
Well, I think talking about the islands and you were just saying change comes slowly, and one of the things that I think is really interesting about a culture of winemaking that is so old such as Greece, is that balance between tradition and innovation. So traditional approaches and varieties, and then new winemakers. You have these younger winemakers or just new winemakers coming in with with new technology, a different mindset. Do you think that the Greek wine industry has found a balance or is it still trying to find the balance between the tradition and future?

Yiannis Karakasis 31:59
That’s a loaded question. I have to be honest, you know, balance as a saving grace is a journey is not a destination, but we’re getting there. We are reinventing ourselves. And we are understanding that, first of all, we need to break down the variety, understand the variety. We understand now that maybe we’ll need to reconsider the training system. So people are rethinking bush fines versus wire trained vines. Less is more is becoming more of the habit rather than an exception. It takes time, but I’m really happy with how Greek wine and Greek winemakers have evolved over the last five years. I’m continuously arguing about giving the terroir expression of our wines in a world that is surrounded by a lot of brackets, commercial wines. We need to stand out, and we cannot compete with low prices who need to compete with fantastic quality. For that, we need to express the terroir are and present to the consumer something distinctive, something genuine. Something really, really genuine. If you taste the Santorinian Assyrtiko, believe me, you will understand distinctiveness. You will have the salty aftertaste, which is very rare, and maybe this salty aftertaste—I was discussing that with a good friend from Italy and he was saying I think that I can find the saltiness in all wines, white and red.

Susan Kostrzewa 34:00
So crop character across the board for sure. It’s always interesting to really become knowledgeable about different different winemaking, either countries or regions and start to see that consistency from wine to wine. There’s a thread that draws them together and I think acidity and that salinity for me with the Greek wines.

Yiannis Karakasis 34:24
Yes, exactly.

Susan Kostrzewa 34:24
It’s something, whether you’re talking about island wines or wines from the mainland, it’s why they’re such such great food wines, in my opinion, and so ageable. Most of the wines that come onto the market, they’re ready to drink now, but I think holding on to Greek wines, letting them age, whites and reds, is so important. There’s so much to be that’s still to be discovered about these wines as they as they go through a little bit of that maturity. So what do you think is the key to Greek wine taking off in America? Obviously, we’re based in the US, and from my perspective, I really feel once people just try the wines, they’re hooked for life. I think people get hung up on worrying about the pronunciation or worrying about, “Well, I’ve never heard of that that variety before.” But the flavors styles are just so delicious. Usually I say just don’t ask, try it and taste it first, and then we’ll talk about it after. What do you think is the key for American consumers to understanding Greek wine? And do you think they’re ready to understand Greek wine or does it matter if they understand Greek wine?

Yiannis Karakasis 35:40
Again, Greek wine is an adventure. It cannot be a generic wine, it can be a terroir driven wine. So we need to focus on the educated segment of the market. And you described it very well. We need to persuade people just to try it. This is more or less hand selling. And we need people like you. When people like Tara, like Eric, talking about Greek wine because you understand it, you can communicate it, and the strong words of Greek wine, this will make that difference. We need serious storytelling, not only educating, but storytelling that is different, creating an emotional connection with what Greek wine can produce. This is storytelling. For me, what we described so far—Assyrtiko, lovely wines from Xinomavro and Agiorgitiko, and other upcoming white varieties like Malagouzia and Rebola. Of course I cannot mention everywhere, right? But this is the idea for me. And this is an alternative. What can Greek wine become? An alternative to French, Spanish and Italian wine. So if someone is bored, what will he or she taste? Greek wine. So that’s why I think our main competitors, in a good way, are Austria, Portugal you understand what I want to say. This is difficult because we need to penetrate the markets to create a unique category and go to a restaurant in New York and have Greece. Not three labels, but our own category and get away from the other categories. This is the big bet for quick wine and it takes a lot of work. We need to strengthen the message, we need to see our marketing, we need to see our labels, we need to see our names. It’s a lot of work.

Susan Kostrzewa 38:08
One of the things that I think really helps people understand Greek wine is absolutely wine and food pairing. Obviously, these wines are absolutely delicious with Greek food, but they’re delicious with other cuisines. I think a lot about especially some of the white varieties you mentioned and pairing those wines with, say, sushi or Thai cuisine, Indian food. To me, what’s really exciting is to see the Greek wines breaking out of just the Greek food category and really being paired. Chefs understanding, sommeliers understanding the versatility of those wines and really being creative in the pairings that they do. I think that’s an important part of exposing the wines to to the American public. It’s really breaking them just out of the Greek category and showing that these are just excellent food wines across the board. You mentioned some other great food wines of the world. Austrian wines, of course, the Portuguese made great food wines as well, but to me, this is where they really shine. I think it’s true of most wine, but absolutely true of Greek wine, it has to be paired with food. And there are many ways to do that. I love seeing that. So, I would love some recommendations. Obviously, we hope that everybody reads Wine Enthusiast and listens to the podcast and learns all about Greek wines here, but I’d love to know from your perspective how you think wine drinkers can learn more about Greek wine. Are there any resources or book recommendations that you have if someone wants to learn more.

Yiannis Karakasis 39:59
Absolutely. People can navigate through my blog, There is so much information about the varieties. I have established now the Greek varieties spot. So a lot of these varieties are covered in full extent. So we’re talking maybe 5000 or 6000 words. It takes a lot of time to publish that. There are some terroir reports. I’m planning also to launch in the next 15 days, my Santorini ebook, which is around 25,000 words covering a little bit of everything. So in my blog, we have a lot of information about Greek wine, but you can find also a lot of stuff in The Wines of Greece. You can find a lot of stuff as far as I know, in the three major books about Greek wines in The Wines of Greece by Miles Lambert-Gocs. That was published in 1990, and I’m really amazed about the depth of information in this book, which was a recent discovery of mine. The book of Nico Manessis, the book of Konstantinos Lazarakis, some books, translated in English by Mrs. Kourakou, especially the book of Santorini. This one again covers a lot of history. And also other very good supporters of Greek wine, like Mark Andrew from Noble Rot, who has written articles about Rapsani, about Assyrtiko. I know he’s planning to write about Crete. Now, we have a lot of supporters, a lot of friends, people that really really love Greek wine. But first of all, what they really love is the Greek culture, because wine is part of our culture.

Susan Kostrzewa 41:55
It’s so seamless to me because it’s been part of the culture for so long that you can’t really have one without the other in my opinion. And that’s the thing too for people that are listening, there are so many places you can visit in the world from a vino tourism standpoint, but to me if you are interested in wine, if you’re interested in history, you have to go to Greece. Not only because it’s a beautiful place, but just because you really encountered that intertwined feeling of wine just is part of everyday life. To me, you can’t be there without absorbing that and learning. I know that history for many wine lovers is such an important thing and in the storytelling that you mentioned, there’s such incredible stories behind these these vineyards, behind these is the wineries, the people who are on these islands, on the mainland making wine. It’s really fascinating. So I’m just about to let you go, but it’s Friday night in Greece. You’re into the night now. So have you eaten dinner? What is your typical Friday night dinner? Do you have wine that you’d like to drink?

Yiannis Karakasis 43:20
I always like to explore. I want to keep my palate educated. So most of the time when I go out with my wife or my friends, I take some bottles of Green wine and one or two bottles of wines from other countries. What I really love is fish, so today I’m going to have some some sushi. My favorite fish is a black grouper, grilled. I play around with some Greek wines but I also like wines in the examples of South African saline, I love the wines from Chris and Suzaan Alheit, I love the wines from Sancerre and Vacheron. I love the wines of Cathy Corison. I can drink them with a black grouper. I try to keep things simple, just quality fish and some nice wine, good company, relax a little bit. This is my idea of a Friday night.

Susan Kostrzewa 44:31
That sounds incredible. I’m going to probably have fish tonight too and most likely will have some Greek wine with it. Yiannis thank you so much for helping us understand a little bit more about Greek island wine and for all the work you do to promote all these great categories. I hope we can talk again. Maybe the next time we’ll talk about the mainland and some of these high altitude vineyards that are so exciting in Greece.

Yiannis Karakasis 45:00
That’s a fantastic idea, Susan. I need to thank you for all these things you put in about Greek wine and for supporting us and for being such such an ambassador for Greek wine because we really count on you.

Susan Kostrzewa 45:14
Well, thank you so much. Have a great night and thanks again.

Yiannis Karakasis 45:18
Talk soon. Bye-bye.

Lauren Buzzeo 45:22
Thanks for listening to this episode of the Wine Enthusiast Podcast. It may not be easy to hop on a plane and check out these magnificent Greek islands firsthand right now. But thankfully, there’s a world of uniquely characteristic lines just waiting to be enjoyed in your glass and that are ready to transport you with each and every set. There were a lot of wines discussed in today’s episode, including selections like Assyrtiko from Santorini, red blends from Crete, and Robola or Mavrodaphne from Kefalonia. Be sure to visit for ratings and reviews of these selections and others discussed today, as well as additional links to learn more about Greek wines from the islands and beyond. Subscribe to the Wine Enthusiast pPodcast on iTunes, Google Play, or wherever you find podcasts. If you like today’s episode, we’d love to read your review and hear what you think. And hey, why not tell your wine loving friends to check us out too. You can also drop us a line at For more wine reviews, recipes, guides, deep dives and stories, visit Wine Enthusiast online at and connect with us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @WineEnthusiast. The Wine Enthusiast Podcast is produced by Lauren Buzzeo and Jenny Groza. Until next episode, cheers.

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