Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Samos Tryin' Ta Kill Me

Many of my fancy friends, particularly those who enjoy the blog but secretly wish to see me perish at an early age from liver failure, bring me island wines back from their travels. For example, after I complained about the lack of quality Vilana, Mr. Mars gifted me two bottles of Cretan whites in exchange for a home-cooked meal, an austerity package for Greece and my box set of The Wire so that he works on his own interpretation of Clay Davis' favorite excretion expression once that plan fails. Last time around, an acquaintance who wants no starring role in my ramblings but would like to see me under The Rock, gave me two bottles of Muscat from the Greek island of Samos that I later put to the test.

First, though, this post's didactic component. Per my go-to-guide on Greek wines, New Wines of Greece
"Muscat White is often referred to as Muscat Samos since the variety is closely associated with the island. Apart from its presence in the PDO Samos, the variety is also found in four other PDO wines (PDO Muscat of Cephalonia, PDO Muscat of Patras, PDO Muscat of Rio Patras and PDO Muscat of Rhodes). Muscat vineyards are spread on stone terraces mostly around Karvounis (1,153m), Samos’s central mountain, which is also known as Ambelos, after the homonymous village on its northern side. Sizeable vineyards are also found on the northeastern slopes of Kerki (1,443m), Samos’s western mountain. Samos has long had its own particular wine management, the Union of Vinicultural Cooperatives of Samos being the only producer. This cooperative has succeeded in making the sweet wine of Samos the best known Greek wine abroad, while dessert wines under the geographical indication of “Samos” have also found their way into the international pantheon of excellent sweet wines. Two wineries outside the island which collaborate with the cooperative also market  PDO Samos wines."
The grape itself produces wines (from dry to sticky) marked by aromas of lemon, apricot, linden, peach, honey and muscat (somewhat reminiscent of crushed coriander seeds).

2011 Union of Vinicultural Cooperatives of Samos (EOSS) Psilés Korfés Muscat (Dry White Wine) - Beautiful nose marked by citrus, passion fruit and flowers. To the palate, tropical fruits all the way. Simple quaffing wine with a medium body. 85/100.

2010 Union of Vinicultural Cooperatives of Samos (EOSS) Vin Doux (Samos Muscat) - Intense bouquet of dried apricots, honey, nuts and spice. Dried apricots, dates and golden raisins, brown sugar, vanilla and a touch of menthol to the taste. Too cloying for my palate, could use some acidity. 82/100.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sleepless in Row One Eight Seven

It's tough for me to sleep on airplanes. I'm the opposite of The Wife, Ph.D., who minutes before takeoff unlaces her shoes, drapes a blanket over her small frame, rests her head on the window and several hours later needs an extra-strong coffee to acknowledge my cranky presence next to her. While she dreams, I watch lame movies and television series, spread runny cheese on stale bread, stuff my face with complementary Twix bars, and try to read without being interrupted by sudden turbulence. If someone remotely interesting is on the other side, I'll talk and talk and talk as if the airplane's engines depended on my verbosity to keep humming. In the past, I've even self-medicated with drowsy cough syrup, which helped me get some shuteye but seemed somewhat irresponsible. These days—no surprises here—I get sloshed on multiple aviation bottles (187 ml) of average wine and wake up depressed and hungover yet with little recollection of the trip. Hyperbole is indeed my middle name so don't be too frightened if one day you are sitting next to me on a transatlantic flight.

Four down, one to go
Besides helping me cope with travel, these minute bottles are ideal for certain occasions. First, they keep my drinking during dinner in check; no longer do I feel tempted to polish off a regular-sized bottle with little assistance from The Wife, Ph.D. Plus, I still experience the sense of accomplishment that comes from consuming an entire bottle minus the massive blow to the liver. Second, it facilitates multiple tastings of fresh wines without the uncorked bottles sitting around to be finished a day or two later and being exposed to oxidation. Third, I can stuff a bottle or two down my pants and smuggle them into a boring football match, Greek theater, Sunday mass, doctor appointments, AA meetings and lonely nights in bed.

Here on The Rock, as far as I know, your best bets for decent Cypriot wine in aviation bottles are Aes Ambelis and Makkas Winery. Alfa Mega stocks miniature versions of Makkas' white, rosé and red and these have become my go-to wines on school nights.

2011 Makkas Red Dry (Grenache, Shiraz, Maratheftiko and Lefkada) - This was the highest-rated Cypriot wine at the 2012 Decanter World Wine Awards. Very smoky and meaty nose with a floral component and a touch of cherries. Chewy tannins, great mouth-feel, good weight and smooth transitions. Flavor-wise, meaty and earthy with notes of red fruit. 88/100.

2011 Makkas Rodostafylo Rosé (Maratheftiko and Lefkada) - To the nose, sweet red fruit like pomegranate and candied strawberries. Tastes predominantly of raspberries but I found it kind of mild and rather flat. Short with a bitter finish. 80/100.

2011 Makkas White Dry (Chardonnay and Xynisteri) - Green apples, peaches and a citrus component come together in a pretty nose with some sweetness to it. Medium-bodied with a flavor profile that recalls tropical fruits (some pineapple, some guava) and citrus. Fresh and good for the summer. 84/100.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Wine Withdrawal Syndrome

Wine Detox 101 with Prof. Disney-Obsessed Man-Child.