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White gold

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The centrepieces of the August 12th tasting were five newly arrived wines from one of the stars in the Greek wine firmament, Domaine Economou. We began with the whites. Reliable technical information for Economou wines is hard to come by. As far as I can ascertain, both wines are made in a similar way: fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tanks, matured in assorted containers (possibly including old casks, stainless steel tanks, fibreglass vats and underground cement tanks) and bottled unfiltered and unfined with a tiny shot of sulphur dioxide.

Sitia 2013, Vilana/Thrapsathiri, Domaine Economou ($51.25, private import, 6 bottles/case)
A blend, typically 70-30, of Vilana and Thrapsathiri from organically farmed, ungrafted, estate-grown vines. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Fascinating, nuanced nose: honey, almond, sea salt, distant apple, pear and maybe even pumpkin, a not unappealing hint of rancid butter. Dry, rich and savoury with a slightly oily texture. Fresher than the 2009 due, I think, to sustained acidity and discreeter oxidative notes, which give the white fruit a yellow facet, as if it were poached with apricot and dried orange peel. The smooth, underlying minerality has me thinking of river stones. Long, layered and profound though not as deep as its flightmate. Unique and involving. (Buy again? Yes.)

Crete 2013, Assyrtiko, Domaine Economou ($51.25, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Assyrtiko from organically farmed, ungrafted vines. Assyrtiko not being a permitted variety in the Sitia PDO, the wine qualifies only for the broader Crete PGI designation. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
“Round nose, like a Bâtard-Montrachet,” notes one taster. If there’s fruit, it’s poached pear intertwined with threads of pine tar, salt-rimed stone and an scent I peg as oak but the aforementioned taster characterizes as “roasted chestnuts.” In the mouth, the wine is weighty, structured, complex, deep and glowingly acidic. There’s an oxidized edge though not a distracting one, as it allows notes of lemon, honey, white nuts and anise seed to come through. Possessed of a long, uniquely savoury finish with a delectably bitter aftertaste. Different from its high-end Santorini counterparts – rounder, richer and less crystalline – but fully worthy of standing alongside them. (Buy again? Yes.)

In a discussion about the Assyrtiko, agent Theo Diamantis drew an analogy with a grand cru Riesling. He also wondered about food pairings. My ideas: fine white fish in a rich sauce, butter-poached lobster, grilled lamb chops, beef tartare (don’t knock it till you’ve tried it).

MWG August 12th tasting: flight 3 of 8

Written by carswell

September 14, 2016 at 14:04

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  1. […] fruitier and less trenchant, grippy and profound than top Santorini Assyrtikos or, more locally, Economou’s but appealing in its own right. Far less expensive, too. Something of a sleeper, actually. There […]

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