Recognize this that Greece has many well defined appellations. These PGIs and PDOs are not perfect by any measure and I think understanding Greek terroir is still in it’s infancy – not just for the consumers or the connoisseurs but also for the winemakers themselves. The notion of what grapes can be grown in which region or should be grown, is challenged quite a bit. Assyrtiko has taken root outside of the Cyclades and finding new expressions in different places. Malagouzia is another example and we had some killer Malagouzias all over Greece. Xinomavro will be pushed out of it’s comfort zones. But nowhere, in our visit at least, was this anarchy more evident than in the vineyards of George Kitos.
When talking to Véronique Cunty, one would be forgiven for thinking that she may be new to this wine thing. There is boundless energy and a disarming honesty that one sees more often in younger winemakers. There is also the fact that she looks ridiculously young and we ascribe that to living and working in one of the most beautiful villages of Southern France. As she expounds more about the wines and the land, it quickly dawns upon us that Véronique has been doing this for decades starting as young as 5 years of age under the eye of her father.This remarkable winemaker is a pioneer in Gigondas. In 2012, the New York Times rated her Gigondas as one of the best examples from the region. There is not one year where the critics don’t rave about her wines. Of course her wines are great. We will not waste time disputing that.
It is not about points from critics although she has bucketfuls of those. There is a lot written about her. It is about passion.It is about honest wine.
Domaine de Font-Sane and her wines were the first we thought of when we decided to get into the wine import gig. What we recognize is that when we taste a bottle of Gigondas from Domaine de Font-Sane, we are witnessing the skill and history behind one of France’s remarkable winemaker. We will also be terribly amiss if we fail to acknowledge the role played by Romain Cunty, her son in the development of this estate.
We decided to ask Véronique the following 5 questions:
1. At what age did you first make wine?
I first made wine when I was 24, just after finishing my studies of viticulture-oenology in Avignon.
2. What is the most important lesson you have learned as a winemaker?
When I was a kid, I helped my parents in the cellar and in the vineyard. They taught me a lot about wine. After studying, I had straightaway a lot of responsabilities and I gave rise to my first vintage in 1987.
3. What did you have for dinner last night and what wine did you drink with it?
I had red mullet filets with a Rosé wine from Domaines Ott in Bandol.
4. Which was your most memorable vintage? And why?
2007 was one of the best vintages in the Rhône Valley, therefore it was unforgettable. But the vintage 1987 was indelible because it was my first one and we had a very hard year with weather. However, 1987 was a good vintage in the end, with great awards from wine reporters.
5. Tell us the truth. Which one do you like more – Grenache or Syrah?
I like Grenache more because it gives full-bodied and well-rounded wines with fruit and spices. It is definitely the king of the Southern Rhône Valley.
To learn more about Domaine de Font-Sane, Véronique and why she thinks Grenache is the bomb, click below.
So, you like Chateauneuf du Pape? GSM (Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre) wines? Then you got to know about Gigondas. Gigondas is a beautiful village north east of Chateauneuf. Sheltered by the jagged Dentelles de Montmirail, this is one of the treasured spots for Grenache. Gigondas derives its name from Jocundas which is Latin for Joy!
I am using my imagination here but I would like to think this is how it happened. One day in circa long time ago, the Romans wandered into the foothills of the Dentelles des Montmirailes. Gazed from a distance, the jagged crown of the mountains reminded them of lace. True, the edges of these mountains were worn down with time. Hence the name “Dentelles”.
Like any traveler today, what struck the ancient Romans was the joy that this place instilled in one’s heart. Jocundas the Roman called it . Joy. Jocundas. Gigondas. The place fills you with unabashed joy. Sheltered under the Dentelles, the vines grow with the same sense of joyfulness that permeates this place. I have always associated the wines of Gigondas as happy wines. They are celebratory. There are no white wines in Gigondas. They are all red and a wee bit of rosés. The reds are mostly a blend of Grenache and Syrah with a fair amount of Mourvedre thrown in. Grapes have been grown here since the Roman times. The wines here literally reflect the land. The term garrigue is referred to the wines here a lot. Garrigue is the brush that grows in these semi-arid parts.
It is as if the landscape decided to be part of the wine. Garrigue, thyme, lavender, smoke, minerals, forest floor, earthy- these are common descriptors of wines here
The soil around these mountains are all limestone. Also, the vineyards are sheltered from the morning sun and the grapes ripen slow at a leisurely Provencal pace. All this gives the wines of Grenache finesse, power and an incredible ability to age.
That brings up the wines of Véronique Cunty and Domaine de Font-Sane.
The world would have been a better place if Yannis Papargyriou could have been Superman instead of Clark Kent. Pity, he doesn’t like Lois Lane (and it is Amy Adams too..)
Let’s get some things out of the way first. Yannis has all the makings of a cult winemaker. His wines sell out before they are even bottled! His production is really small. In fact his wine cellar is his basement! So, feel free to use the cliché “garagiste” here liberally.
His style is unique and he is not afraid to push the envelope. The whites are bottled in long tapering Riesling style bottles as a nod to his training in Geissenheim and the white wines are razor sharp and crystal clear like something from along the shore of the Rhine, but it is Assyrtiko, Moshoudi (a fragrant clone of Muscat) or Sauvignon Blanc. He grows grapes such as Touriga Nacional (a Portuguese grape) and Mavrodaphne, although he makes his Mavrodaphne in a dry version and manages to make a red wine that is simply amazing. He makes a firm argument that a dry Mavrodaphne can hold it’s place as one of the great red wine grapes of Greece (alongside Xinomavro and Agiorgitiko). Hope the powers that be in Patras is paying attention. The man is an iconoclast. Pity he doesn’t like Lois Lane!
This is the 3rd vintage of Yannis’ wines that we have brought across. Word of warning – his wines sell out fast. There is a whole bunch of people who keep asking me about the ETA on these wines. Grab them now. I can assure you they won’t last long. And get yourself a few bottles of the Roi de Montagne Cuvée. Drink a couple now. Open the rest in another 8-10 years if you can wait that long. You can thank me later.
The vineyards of Papargyriou are one of the oldest in the region. His father Aristides Papargyriou started the vineyards in 1978. Yannis’s wife Eleni is also an accomplished viticulturist from the University of Athens. His sons Dimitris and Alexandros also make wine. They are 10 and 13 years old! This estate has a great past and a bright future. And trust me on the Roi des Montagnes!
We decided to ask Yannis Papargyriou of Papargyriou Winery the following 5 questions:
1. If you were not a winemaker, who would you have been?
Assyrtiko from Hatzidakis, Nemea Aivalis, Xinomavro Dalamaras. From the international wine scene, Riesling and Barolo.
3. Who/What inspires you?
The challenge to make better wine than last year, in other words to surpass my best effort so far.
4. What did you have for dinner last night? What wine did you drink with it?
Rabbit “stifado” (cooked with small onions in tomato sauce), paired with Le Roi des Montagnes Syrah 2014.
5. If you could be one of these two superheroes, would you be Superman or Batman?
Batman of course, I can’t stand Lois.
If you have any questions about Yannis’ wines or have any other questions such as what exactly he has against Lois Lane, shoot us an email.