You wouldn’t know it by looking at me, but I am part Greek. I got the fair skin and freckles from my Dad, rather than the olive complexion from my mother, her mother and her grandfather. I never really met any of my Greek relatives because they lived in Mobile and Dauphin Island, Alabama. We lived in West Virginia, and that was a bit of a haul for my parents to drive with two kids in the car. That, and perhaps because my parents didn’t drink, and to them, one or two beers meant someone was going to start living out of the dumpster “if he didn’t watch it.” And word is, the Greeks in mom’s family like to toss back a few.
It wasn’t until I moved to Joe’s hometown of Toledo, that I ever tasted much Greek food. But given Toledo has as many Greek restaurants as Houston does Tex-Mex (there were two of them on the University of Toledo campus alone) I learned that I love Greek food. Now, one of my favorite restaurants in Houston, is Ellie’s Kitchen in Friendswood.
So I was thrilled when the Fab PR guru Constance asked if we might like to try some Greek wines. I said, of course, told her about my long, lost Greek heritage, and my love of all things at Ellie’s. It was my plan to take our samples to Ellie’s (she is BYOB since that part of Houston is a bit, um, dry) and enjoy them with some of her fabulous dolmas, hummus and spanakopita.
But when the samples arrived, Joe thought better of our taking two bottles of wine to dinner 10 miles from our house, drinking them both and then making that drive back. Although, I’m sure Ellie would have had no problem tasting a bit with us, putting the corks back on, and putting them in a bag for us to bring them back home to finish.
With the Second Pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions Select…
So instead we decide to pick up some Greek deli food and invite our friend Charles over to watch the NFL Draft while tasting our Greek samples. Draft day is always a big deal because Joe’s Detroit Lions nearly always get an early first round pick. This year was no different, and Joe was like a kid on Christmas morning, hoping that the Lions, who had 2nd pick, would take Ndamukong Suh.
Suh is a defensive tackle out of Nebraska that Lions’ fans hope to be the savior of the franchise that had comeback promise before the destruction that was Matt Millen. PUHLEASE, don’t get Joe started on that. Millen is now known as only “He who shall not be named,” so I don’t have to listen to a 30-minute tirade on what an idiot the guy is. And Joe’s not alone, you can Google “Matt Millen is an idiot” and get all sorts of the same opinion.
So we prepare mezés (μεζές) and pour from our two bottle of wine from Santorini that have been chilling in the fridge.
Estate Argyros Assyrtiko
Assyrtiko makes up 70% of the vineyards of the island of Santorini, where its character is influenced by the island’s volcanic soil. It is naturally resistant to most diseases, which adds to its popularity. Originating in Santorini, it has been re-planted throughout Greece. This Assyrtiko is cultivated in the private vineyard located in Episkopi Gonia. Grown in the rocky volcanic soil throughout the island, the basket trained “kouloura” vines of Assyrtiko produce a dry, full-bodied white wine with intense minerality and crisp acidity that make it a Chef’s dream for food-pairing.
According to our sources, it has the unusual quality of maintaining high levels of alcohol and acidity at the same time, making it one of the few white grapes of the Mediterranean that also possess long aging potential. No aging in our house though. Joe and Charles thoroughly enjoyed this dry white wine, as it paired well with our dolmas (stuffed grape leaves), feta and olives, spanakopita (spinach pies) and chicken shawarma. The color is a clear golden, with citrus on the nose and palate. Alcohol by volume is 13%, the bottle has a distinctive cloth label. It is distributed throughout Europe, Asia, Australia and North America., but we couldn’t find it in our local wine retailer. However, if your state isn’t stupid protectionist, you can pick it up from Gary Vaynerchuk’s Wine Library for just under $18.
In the mids 1980s the Boutaria company began its active involvement with the vineyards of Santoria, one of the few vineyards that has never been affected by phylloxera. The Boutari Winery, with its distinctive white dome, began operations in 1989, and has played a leading role in the viticultural development of the Cycladic Island of Santorini.
Yellow-white color, with aromas of exotic and citrus fruits, green apple, peach and grapefruit, this zesty white offers an intense metallic character; a rich body, balanced palate and a long aromatic finish. It was a perfect pairing to cut through some of the pungent garlic of our Baba ghanouj, and garlic butter on our chicken schawarma. Our friends at Telato Wines import the Santorini Boutari, which is 100% Assyrtiko grape. 13.5% Alcohol by Volume, the Santorini Boutari sells for around $15.00. I found a bottle at my local retailer to enjoy again on another occasion.
The Lions did, indeed, draft Suh, and there was much rejoicing in our household. So much so that it’s taken me almost a month to get the time to write about the experience. But there’s even more for me to be excited about!
We will be bringing you more information about the wines from Santorini, as we are visiting the island and its wineries in July. We’re looking forward to taking fabulous pictures, and sharing our visit with you!