When the French with their certitudes evoke the Greek wines, they onky think about some ugly retsina that burns the oesophagus. Forget all that.
Some people are really stupid if they imagine that such a great country as Greece can't produce amazing wines. I urge skeptic ones to take a flight to Kalamata, Peloponnese, south of Greece. Why there, in the olive tree homeland ? We are far away from famous vineyards of Naoussa or Santorini... But there in Kalamata, Perry has just opened a exciting wine bar. Located within the city market, καντοίνα (or rather Kantina) sells only Greek wines.
Just a moment... "If a Greek winemaker produces a blend from sauvignon and assyrtiko, we do not take this wine!" Perry says. Kantina chooses only bottles filled with Greek grapes !
In the picture it's only a part of the shelves. The number on each bottle is the take-away price. Tonight I had the chance to taste 12 wines. And eat 5-6 meals. Difficult to talk about every bottle, you had to come. A table!
Region: Rhodes. Producer: CAIR cooperative. Cuvée: Rodos 2400. Grape: Athiri. Price: 7.5 euros. Perry explains that the Greeks would put that bottle directly in the trash because this variety has a bad reputation. But something special is happening in the glass as when a teacher focuses on a dunce with empathy.
Saviatiano of Papagiannakos is produced close to Athens. Another grape that they usually make "piss" like our aligoté. Ok, it's not a great wine and it is strict. But it sparkles a bit, it announces a nice moment. If you are looking for a white for a party, it makes its job perfectly ! 7 euros a bottle, you shut down your mouth and you drink.
Whooooah this pita with feta and olive. Bitterness ! The work is simple and obvious. Yes, a pizza... So simple... But everything rocks. Especially with different textures, it explodes in the mouth. I have already eaten half part before the pix...
Now the blanc de gris of Ktima Tselepos. The grape moschofilero spent 3 months in barrels to break the fruity side of the grape, as if we were dealing with a cousin of muscat. This is extremely interesting, the result is complex.
Even a simple dish, anchovies and mash. Invigorating, full of color, the dish is happy to be there. So do we!
Here comes a very, very nice surprise: Salto by Skouras. From Peloponnese. Again it sparkles a bit before giving way to a very loving wine. The soundtrack of the establishment now turns to Brassens and Les amoureux des bancs publics, a famous French song about time that goes by so quickly.
Let's move on and this haf of eggplant, opened in a moussaka style. Very melting and delicious.
Tonight the red wines were mind-blowing. Let's move to the north close to Mount Olympus, between Athens and Thessaloniki. This Rapsani by Dougos seduced by an explosive nose and a mouth on salt. We are drinking it probably too young, it seems to have an wonderful ageing potential.
This is the Greek version of shakshouka, with some local bacon. A delight.
Another huge red. Back in Peloponnese, just after Corinth. Apellation Nemea, producer Aivalis. Unfiltered, 12 months in barrels, 13 euros. Our Parisian references suggest that this wine is not enough expensive for this quality. The nose is absolutely extraordinary and there is a shabby contrast with the elegant mouth. This is a lot of spices for this evening. For once, the wood has done its job. Sure, it's a slap.
And we put our certitudes into the trash with these three examples of dessert wine. I have to recognize that the wonderful bottle of these 3 is Abeliastos. Produced in Santorini, the wine of the big brand Boutari, 2003, makes you forget the sugar. A red with a little honey without any weight. Yes, that's good even if it's Boutari...
Kantina is open for a few weeks. But the Greek bosses know their job by heart. As some of the wines tasted tonight, this place is invigorating. You can come with its certitude but you will change your mind. Of course, Greek wine already held an important place in my cellar but tonight we understand the greatness of this country, its complexity, its stories and its roots. And the food in Kantina does not only follow the wine, it is in harmony with the glass. For sure. A little wink to Alexander Rallis who gave me the address. He is the responsible for marketing this wonderful olive oil that we tasted (Profil Grec) in Kantina and in Terroirs d'Avenir, Paris.
I have to add that Perry and his band are as delicious as their wines. An incredible sense of communication. They are opened to the modernity and have a good knowledge of traditions. Kantina is actually a meeting place. Everyone can come and drink coffee during the day, or a glass of wine when you feel the need. A glass of wine that tells you a story.
Drinking glasses here in Greece, I had the impression to be in my favourites places in Paris. A mix between La Robe et le Palais, Coinstot Vino and Versant Vins... but in Greece! I hope they will open an embassy in Paris.
Kantina, in the heart of the market hall, Kalamata.
Kantina band is handling Luna Lounge in central Kalamata. With a name like that, I would not enter... In addition, they serve burgers and other stuffs. But in the plate the food is gorgeous and the glass is filled with the same drinks than in Kantina. People of Kalamata are very lucky.
Luna Lounge, Aristomenous 23, Kalamata.
You can find other food tips in Greece here.
To say the truth, I confess, I love retsina ! I love the pine taste, the taste of holidays. For some euros, organic retsina from Tetramythos delights me.