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Dionysian excellence of Greece

Call it Dionysian DNA, Call it Hard Work, Greeks Make Wine Much More than Fine. Hard work and patience does pay off. Especially when it comes to fine wine.

Just ask many of Greece’s contemporary winemakers. Both blessed and burdened (in the good sense) with making good on their Dionysian DNA, modern Greek winemakers cultivated their ancient forefathers’ land and wine craftsmanship managing to bring difficult to pronounce Greek grape varieties to the lips of the world’s masters of wine, including judges, sommeliers, journalists and authors.

The New York Times, Decanter, Wine & Spirits, Wine Spectator and others herald the Assyrtiko, Moschofilero, Agiorgitiko, Ksinomavro - and not only -- Greek wine varieties using words like “adventure,” “exciting” and “pleasure of discovery.”

“My impression is almost exactly like I’m visiting Greece,” said Laura Maniec, proprietor of Corkbuzz Wine Studio, in a recent article published in the New York Times about Greek reds. “They’re open-minded and experimental, but within their traditions….”

Greece is considered one of the upcoming wine regions, demonstrating unique, distinctive indigenous varietals and dramatically diverse terroir. As a result, Greek winemakers have been investing in entering foreign markets and increasing exports.

A recent visit to a winery in the Nemea region in the Peloponnese, further documents this success. Was it the aroma of the grapes fermenting in the towering vats that was making us a bit lightheaded, or the scores and scores of distinctions and awards along the corridor?

At this year’s Decanter World Wine Awards, 72% percent of all wines entered from Greece received an award, including three Gold (red, sweet white and white) and close to 50 Silver, and many more.

Until 2009, around 90% of Greek wine was sold within Greece itself. Reports for Greek wine exports in 2011 showed a 7,5% increase. This year’s figures are even more promising. Particularly in the U.S., exports have demonstrated an overall increase of 13% within the last decade.

"According to the latest data, Greek exports are on the rise,” says Sotiris Ioannou, President of the Greek Interprofessional Organisation of Wine and Vine, the collective representative body of the Greek wine sector.

“And this is a sign of optimism, he adds. “The Greek wine sector has put together a strategic plan that is now supported by a national wine marketing budget of €7 million, funded by the EU. We strongly believe that our dynamic, forward-thinking wine sector could become a major driving force of financial development for Greece.”

Surely, the best way to experience Greek wine is to go to the source. And there are several wineries that provide guided tours and wine tastings. The National Inter-professional Organisation of Vine and Wine of Greece and the official New Wines of Greece website www.newwinesofgreece.com may assist you.

But if you can’t make it to Greece this year, more and more restaurants around the world are offering Greek wines as part of their wine list. Just ask. That way, when you come to Greece, you’ll visit the vineyard of your favorite.

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