(Oct. 2019) We arrived at Ktima Kokotos Winery two hours before lunch, and immediately after our tour of an ancient Savatiano Vineyard nearby. Kokotos winery was established in the 1970’s by George Kokotos and his family. Located in the area of Stamata, the winery is less than an hour’s drive north of Athens.
Nestled amongst rolling hills at an altitude of 450 meters, the winery boasts seven hectares of organically farmed Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. An impressive feature of the estate is the large blue swimming pool situated on wide expanses of emerald green lawn. We were pleased to realize that we would be taking lunch poolside, as the staff was busy setting up round tables and a Greek barbecue grill. As it was a warm sunny day with a temperature hovering around 25 C, this was a very welcome sight.
To the right of the pool was a large indoor reception room where over 20 producers from Attica and Central Greece were serving wine at tables arranged in a large U-shape around the room. Altogether they represented 42 different wines from these two regions for our walk-around tasting.
Terroir and Grape Varietals for Attica and Central Greece
Though Attica and Central Greece, both located North of Athens, produce many different types of grape varieties, they are best known for Savatiano, Malagouzia, and some unusual red varieties, such as Moutaro. The terroir is hilly, with sandy gravely soils, low rainfall, and a typical dry Mediterranean climate
Though there were many excellent wines composed of different varietals as well as some blends, the ones that stood out for me were the signature regional white grape called Savatiano, as well as the aromatic white Malagouzia, and a few of the reds. Following are some of the highlights of the tasting for me.
Selected Savatiano Wines
Savatiano is a neutral white grape known for its medium to full body, stone fruit and medium acid. It is the most widely planted grape In Greece, and traditionally used for making retsina, but is now being used to make dry full-bodied wines. When aged in oak, it can sometimes taste like an oaked chardonnay.
- 2017 Aoton Winery Savatiano PGI Attiki – yellow color, medium-bodied with complex savory notes, straw, citrus, salty minerality and textured body. No oak, but aged in stainless steel with 5 months of batonnage.
- 2016 Kokotos Winery Barrel Fermented Savatiano 2016 – dried apple, lemon and vanilla spa on nose, with a juicy citrus and mineral palate. Fermented in acacia oak barrels with 5 months battonage – tasted rather like a fresh Chablis.
- 2013 Markou Vineyards Savatiano – produced with no SO2, this wine was surprisingly aromatic with peach notes and a heavier textured body. Quite unique and appealing.
- 2012 Mylonas Winery Savatiano and 2018 from same winery. Located close to the ocean this winery is in a cooler region, and the ferment in stainless steel and age on grow lees. The 2018 was fresh with lemon and minerality, whereas the 2012 had gained some more savory complex notes in the bottle.
- 2017 Botanic Sparkling Savatiano – fresh and exciting, with exquisite small bubbles from 2nd fermentation in bottle. Straw, citrus, and yeasty flavors. Quite delightful.
Selected Malagouzia Wines
Malagouzia is an aromatic white grape known for its floral aromas, as well as exotic fruit and citrus on the palate, with an occasional minty finish. It can be crafted in a fresh lighter style with no oak, or aged on the lees to add texture and complexity.
- 2018 Malagouzia Anastasia Gragou Winery – white flowers on the nose with fresh citrus and minerals on the palate, floral, with herbal note on finish. Clean, refreshing, and lovely.
- 2017 Malagouzia Gikas Winery – delicately aromatic with hints of peach blossom, juicy acidity, and well-balanced.
- 2018 Tzivani Bio Chrissie Golden Malagouiza – ripe peaches and lemon on nose, following by an intriguing texture palate of peach skins and wet stone. Quite delicious.
Selected Unique Red Wines/Other
2017 Experimental Syrah Boutari Winery – vinified with no SO2 or oak, this Syrah was rather amazing in that it tasted quite fresh with ripe berries, pepper, and structured tannins.
- 2016 Domaine Costa Lazaridid Oenotria Land Cabernet Sauvignon and Agiorgitiko, PGI Attica – made in a New World Style with rich ripe berries, black plum and generous toasty oak with vanilla and spice. Big velvety tannins and long finish. Aged for 18 months 50% new French oak – rather Napa Valley like.
- 2017 Samartzis Estate Moutaro – very unusual red wine with cherry and violets on nose, followed by raspberries and rhubarb on palate. Very high acid and red black opaque color. Would have liked to try more of these.
- 2018 Lenga Gewurtraminer Avantis Estate – this was an absolutely beautiful lighter-style Gewurztraminer with the telltale orange blossom and baby powder nose, elegant body with good acidity and a touch of sugar on the finish – enticing and well made.
Wines Followed Us to Lunch by the Pool
Towards the end of the two hour tasting it was difficult to ignore the smokey aroma of roasting meat on the barbecue grill. So with stomachs growling and nostrils quivering, we were happy to take a seat with the wine producers at one of the many round tables near the pool. They brought multiple bottles of wine to pair with the feast that was being prepared by a group of chefs under an awning near the head of the pool.
Eventually it was time for us to attack the buffet, and we were invited to help ourselves to a smorgasbord of delicious Greek food, including barbecued goat and chicken kabobs, classic Greek Salad, tzatziki, grape-leave wrapped dolmathakia, and many other delicious dishes. A truly delightful and memorable day in Greece.