Nemea bears an uncanny resemblance to Napa Valley. To the Napa Valley of the 1960s and 70s. It has rolling hills carpeted with vineyards with mountains along it’s edges and a rural feel that is very much that of a pastoral Greek countryside.
After tasting Agiorgitiko from several of Nemea’s sub-appellations, I cannot but come to the conclusion that it is among the hills of Nemea particularly around that of Asprocambos that Agiorgitiko achieves that magical balance between fruit, acidity and tannins. In these parts of the Peloponnese, the hills are high enough to receive snow in Winter. There are not too many winemakers braving the slopes. At least not yet. The name to remember for one of the purest expression of cool climate Nemea is Spilia from Pirgakis. Like true artists, Konstantinos Pirgakis is a slave to attention, but not very vocal about his wines. His wines do not need bravado to appreciate. They just need a sip.
Our first visit to the Pirgakis Estate was at a time when his winery was just being built. The attention to detail went beyond his cellar to his winery and emerging tasting room as well. The thing about this estate is that it is not just all about Agiorgitiko. Lucky enough to have access to vineyards within different microclimates of Nemea, he produces a stunning Assyrtiko, a Bordeaux blend that was so Right Bank and a Chardonnay that could have been from Carneros. His rosé of Agiorgitiko with a smidge of residual sugar is pure nectar.
Unlike Napa, Nemea’s revolution hasn’t come yet. And when it does, it may not come from the valley but from the hills around it. Here cool climate Agiorgitiko carves its own identity showing how great this grape can be in the right hands. The best artists are the ones who are quiet and let their work do the talking. To everyone I say, get thee to Nemea and run to the hills of Asprocambos. Seek out Konstantinos Pirgakis and revel in his wines.