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A Collaboration of Winemakers and of Grape Varieties
By Mary Ewing-Mulligan
Nov 1, 2011
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Biblia Chora, Regional Wine of Pangeon (Greece), “Ovilos” White, 2008 (Cava Spiliadis, $40):  Greece boasts an array of excellent native grape varieties, most of which are still unknown to wine drinkers.  Wine producers in Greece often combine these native grapes with internationally well-known varieties to create intriguing blends, and in doing so they bring an element of familiarity to the wine, a frame of reference of sorts for wine drinkers. This particular wine for example combines the native Greek variety, Assyrtiko, with the internationally known variety, Semillon.

The combination of Assyrtiko and Semillon is a blend of opposites:  The sleek, firm, crisp and structured Assyrtiko with the broad, rich, generous Semillon. In this wine, the two grapes merge seamlessly to make a wine that is rich but firm, flavorful but full of character.

Biblia Chora is a small, organic wine estate of 86 acres on the slopes of Mount Pangeon, near the port city of Kavala in the Macedonia region of northern Greece. The estate is a collaboration between winemakers Vangelis Gerovassiliou -- a highly-respected pioneer of modern Greek wines -- and Vassilis Tsaktsarlis, a protégé of Gerovassiliou whose previous work includes the role of head winemaker at Domaine Lazaridi. The vineyards are high in altitude in a cool region influenced by the Aegean Sea. The estate is fairly new, its first vineyards having been planted in the late 1990s, and the winery itself built early in the 2000 decade.

Ovilos White is a full-bodied, oaked white wine that is dry but not at all austere. It enters your mouth with richness and softness, but the acidity of Assyrtiko and mild tannins (from oak and from some skin-contact prior to fermentation) keep the richness under control.  The aromas and flavors range from citrus notes of lemon and orange peel to ripe apricot, honey and nutty notes. The flavors and the texture suggest voluptuousness, but the structure maintains firmness within that richness of flavor. The sleek Assyrtiko component has the last word, in the long, fresh and clean finish. 

This wine aged for six months in French oak, half of which was new and half in its second use. The total production is only 800 cases, of which only 100 are available here.

Because this wine is already three years old and because it is so rich, I would drink it over the next year or two, but Semillon blends can have longevity. Serve it with mild-flavored foods that have some weight, such as grilled cod or sea bass, pasta or risotto with lobster, or a simple pork roast.

90 Points