Sunday, December 25, 2016

[Said Subject]

Imagine spending two and a half hours over a fancy steak dinner talking about one of your favourite subjects with friendly and garrulous people who share your passion and (better yet) have barrels of knowledge on said subject that effortlessly make up for your amateuresque delusions of grandeur. 

In Cyprus, for example, said subject (I've come to reckon) could be how your football team is being robbed every weekend, German cars, French and Italian handbags, the struggling economy, grilling pig to succulent perfection, real estate horror stories, and erasing that stubborn line penciled in years ago in green that separates the panhandle from the wok. Here, everyone is an expert on any or all of said subjects; no matter who you speak to, they will always know more than you do and let you know in screams.

I was fortunate enough to spend the evening of November 3rd chatting with Carob Mill Restaurants' sommelier Panayiotis Daniel and consultant, WSET instructor and Greek wine blogger Gregory Michailos during Laiko Cosmos Trading's private dinner to promote Costas Lazarides wines in Cyprus. The event, held at Fogo & Brasa Churrascaria in Nicosia, gathered journalists, chefs and other wine personalities to sample latest vintages as matched with tasty food by the Brazilian eatery's chefs and receive ample information from Gregory and Chariton Maronikolakis, Costas Lazarides' PR & Marketing Manager, on the winery, its history and wine portfolio. 

Gregory Addressing the Crowd
Following this dinner, I gained a newfound appreciation for Costas Lazarides' wines. I hadn't tasted them in ages given my current infatuation with Cyprus, Naoussa and Santorini, and came out impressed. What really struck a chord with my palate was the high level of consistency; across the board, all wines were well-made, balanced, refined and quite tasty.

Starting with the highly aromatic, tropical-ish and thirst-quenching 2015 Amethystos White (a 85% Sauvignon Blanc & 15% Assyrtiko blend), the wines that evening shone bright. In my opinion, some of the highlights included the 2015 Assyrtiko from Drama, a less mineral, less acidic yet fuller expression of Greece's darling variety with lovely hints of stone fruit and white flowers, and the 2013 Amethystos Red, a Cabernet Sauvignon (70%), Merlot (20%) and Agiorgitiko (10%) blend, a wine still in its infancy with notes of black forest fruit, plums, sweet spice, coffee and green peppers that showed plenty of unbridled potential.

Veggie Risotto with Assyrtiko
All this segued into the star of the night and the winery's pride and joy: the 2008 Cava Amethystos, a 100% Cabernet Franc that is well structured and round and carries with it aromas of red berries, herbs and sweet spice. In the past, this wine used to be primarily made with Cabernet Sauvignon; however, as shared that night by Gregory, once acclaimed Bordeaux oenologist Michel Rolland laid eyes on Costas Lazarides' Cabernet Franc vineyards ("...some of the best in all of Europe..."), he motivated the winery in his position as consultant to scrap the Sauvignon in favour of the Franc.

One item is left pending from my night with the Costas Lazarides crew. Chariton mentioned in passing that one of his favourite wines in the company's portfolio is the Chateau Julia Refosco Agiorgitiko blend, a bottling that is not currently imported by Laiko Cosmos and that sounds awfully intriguing given the distinct combination of Greek and Italian varieties. Maybe that merits a trip to Northern Greece to pay them a visit, share another steak dinner and fill up the tank with yet more lengthy and entertaining conversations on my favourite said subject.