Every year, we joyously dedicate this day to celebrating our “beloved wines” and expressing gratitude to the vineyards and wineries around the globe that graciously open their doors to us during their special “Open Doors” celebration!
On this particular occasion, “Gastronomy Tours” and “Taste Local Greece” embarked on a memorable journey to the Attican vineyard, nestled in the Eastern suburbs of Athens. Our destination was the innovative bioclimatic Papagiannakos winery, a pioneering establishment in the region.
The vineyards of Attica, steeped in ancient history, have flourished since ancient times. Dionysus, the revered ancient god of wine, was worshipped in numerous regions of Greece, particularly in Attica. Born to Semele and Zeus, Dionysus’s influence echoes through the vine-covered landscapes of this historic region.
At the heart of the Attican vineyard, the Savatiano grape variety reigns supreme. In the days of old, the wines produced filled the barrels of taverns in Athens with its distinctive resinated wine, creating a flavorful tradition.
Our journey took us beyond the bustling city to the outskirts of Markopoulo, where amidst vineyards and fig trees, the bioclimatic Papagiannakos winery awaited. This innovative establishment blends tradition with modernity, offering a glimpse into the art and science of winemaking in the picturesque landscapes of Attica.
Today, the Savatiano variety takes center stage, constituting a remarkable 80% of the Attican vineyard’s production. While rooted in tradition, the vineyard has embraced innovation by introducing new varieties such as Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet, and Malagouzia, yielding exceptional wines.
Attica, bestowed with approximately 400mm of annual rainfall and a relatively dry, windy climate in summer, is a haven for organic vineyards. The natural conditions minimize interventions, ensuring a high sanitary standard for vines and grapes.
The classic Retsina, a time-honored gem of Greek viticulture, experiences a renaissance. Produced by skilled artisans, it now undergoes aging in oak barrels, becoming a sought-after delight not only for modern Greeks but also finding its place in high-end restaurants worldwide. Its versatile nature complements not just Greek traditional cuisine but also international fare, including sushi.
Now, the captivating Attican Vineyard offers a diverse range of excellent wines. In close proximity, the mystical archaeological area of Vravrona, cradling the sanctuary of the Greek goddess Artemis, beckons exploration. Further down, the enchanting beaches and sea of Attica contribute a cool breeze that caresses the entire vineyard.
Nearby stands the medieval tower of Vravrona, an essential visit for those exploring the region, overseeing the surroundings with a commanding presence.
Our journey culminates at the Papagiannakos winery, nestled between Markopoulo and Vravrona. From this vantage point, the winery overlooks the plain and hills of the surrounding beautiful area. At the onset of the century, Vassilis Papagiannakos, the visionary grandfather, embarked on his winemaking journey, giving birth to the legendary Savatiano—bold, healthy, and juicy grapes that have become the hallmark of this esteemed establishment.
A few years ago, marking a new era after the passage of many years since the time of Papagiannakos’ grandfather, the first modern bioclimatic winery in Greece came into existence. This architectural marvel not only prioritizes hospitality but also excels in implementing practices that yield exceptional wines.
Our exploration begins with a bird’s-eye view of the expansive wine tanks. Maria Christina Papagiannakos, representing the fourth generation, guides us through the journey of grapes—from the vine to the tanks—and delves into the rich history of winemaking, spanning from her great-grandfather to the present day.
Descending to the basement, we encounter the mystical atmosphere of the cellar where wines age gracefully in both old and new oak barrels. Adjacent to the cellar lies the state-of-the-art bottling plant, equipped with all necessary certifications for global exports, meeting the rigorous standards of even the most discerning markets, including Canada.
Ascending to the ground floor, which offers panoramic views of the entire bottling and aging area, we find ourselves in the hall where tastings and events unfold. The entire Papagiannakos family joins us, generously serving and elucidating the characteristics of their wines.
The moment arrives for the tasting experience…
First and foremost, the spotlight is on the everyday iconic wine of the Attica land—the Savatiano. A shining and fragrant wine sealed with the Papagiannakos rooster logo. Bright, with fruit aromas, light, and an ideal companion for almost all daily dishes. The barrel-aged Savatiano reveals distinct and concentrated aromas.
After savoring Merlot, Agiorgitiko, Malagouzia, Cabernet, and the emblematic Assyrtiko varieties, we culminate the tasting with the iconic Retsina. Papagiannakos has masterfully crafted a Retsina that captivates, finding favor not only in Greece but making waves in the French market, where esteemed restaurants recommend it alongside their finest dishes.
The subtle aroma of Retsina lingers in the aftertaste, rewarding the palate with its distinctive taste, present just enough to be proudly displayed on the label. Paired with braised rooster Bardouniotiko the next day—a classic Greek recipe from Mani—it proved to be the perfect match.
Our tasting journey concludes with Melia, a dessert wine, exuding intense aromatic notes of the Malagouzia variety, with hints of jasmine and citrus, captivates with bold aromas and a luscious texture—an ideal companion for salads, tender squid, cuttlefish, and a perfect choice for chocolate desserts.
As we gaze over the majestic scenery with a glass of aromatic sweet Melias wine, we extend our best wishes to the Papagiannakos family for a bountiful harvest this year.