By Marlise Ponzo

John Szabo MS: Serious about Greek wine

As complicated as these Greek grape varietals look to pronounce, they became easy to understand when compared to more well known international varietals, by Master Sommelier John Szabo at last week’s New Wines Of Greece Seminar and tasting. The man’s a genius and the discussion he led in the packed ballroom at The Metropolitan Hotel, downtown Toronto, was extraordinarily entertaining and educational. The following wines are, in my opinion, a few of the best in show. They are made with 100% indigenous varietals. They are interesting, complex and of very good value. Lots of bang for your buck! Though these wines are not necessarily available at your local LCBO, they are easily private ordered through the listed agents. You may have to commit to a case but they are affordable and scrumptious enough to warrant it. Agents can be contacted via their web pages.

2009 Gaiά Wines “Thalassitis” (100% Assyrtiko)  PDO Santorini Greece (The Small Winemakers Collection Inc. $24.00)
Engrossingly aromatic white made with 100% Assyrtiko grapes. Pretty nose of lemon, ripe passion fruit and softly perfumed wildflowers. On the palate there maintains a bit of tropicality and citrus with the added depth and complexity of raw almond and beeswax. Crisp acidity, crazy minerality and moderate alcohol. This wine has a very old-world-character. Reminds me a little of a musky-waxy Sauvignon blanc/ Semillon blend. Lovely stuff!

2006 Papaioannou Estate (100% Agiorgitiko) Nemea  PDO Nemea Greece (Kolonaki Group Inc. $21.20 – 2005 available LCBO Vintages $18.95)
The varietal here is Agiorgitiko and what an interesting wine it makes. The Riojaesque nose is brimming with prune and dried cocoa rubbed cherries, toffee and minted loose-leaf herbal tea. Oxidative notes of pipe tobacco and tanned leather add to the bouquet. Aromas follow through on the palate. The structure of the wine is quite elegant and full of fine round tannins. Reminds me a little of a Valpolicella Ripasso with its raisinated flavours. Long finish. Great food friendly wine.

Marlise Ponzo, has been working in the Hospitality industry for many years and  possesses experience in many different roles from fine dining server, restaurant manager, sommelier to wine/food writer most recently. She is absolutely passionate about the culinary arts and the artistry of food and wine pairing. Being married to a chef, vacations become true culinary adventures and often land her at one michelin star restaurant or another. She has been working at Crush Wine Bar for the past eight years and has used this extraordinarily successful restaurant as a springboard for learning everything she could about the wonderful world of wine. In 2008 she graduated the Canadian Association of  Professional Sommeliers certification program with honours and accepted two awards of excellence for blind tasting from CAPS. Currently she continues to explore her passion for sensory development and wine appreciation through reading, tasting, traveling and writing.