In summer, one of my favorite quaffes is champagne and almost any form of sparkling wine, so long as it is, well, good. I love it chilled in the afternoon, a drink to sip instead of ouzo, which knocks me out and dulls my palate if I indulge in it too much.
For years, one of my favorite sparkling wines has been the famed moscato d’Asti of Italy, a deliciously sweet and earthy wine that tends to appeal more to women than to men. Greece, of course, produces some very fine sparkling wines, among them several new products, including one from the Kyr Yiani estate in high-altitude Amyntaion, made with a rosé xynomavro and another, which I have just stumbled upon, from the Chatzigeorgiou estate on the island of Limnos. Called Moscato d’Ifestia – Limnos is a volcanic island — this one has become a new favorite, especially in warm weather. It is made with the very noble muscat of Alexandria grape, and retains both the intoxicating perfume and sweet fruitiness in every glass. I came upon it at a new wine bar in Makriyianni called Wine Point, which serves only Greek wines and is a great place to visit if you happen to be in the vicinity of the Acropolis. They organize weekly wine tastings, too.
Muscat d’Alexandria is a fascinating grape. Cleopatra supposedly drank it, albeit from Samos, not from Limnos, as the legend goes. It is one of the most ancient genetically unmodified grape varietals in the world. In its finest form, still not sparkling, Greek Muscat is sometimes compared to the famed French Beaume de Venise, one of the world’s great dessert wines. Muscat d’Alexandria is more subtle than the muscats of Samos, with their rich, full-bodied, almost cloying sweetness that, when aged, can resemble chocolate. The Limnos derivation is lighter, less aromatic, and earthier, but still sweet.
In this era of let’s-support-everything-Greek, at least among Greeks and Grecophiles, the sparkling Chatzigeorgiou Muscat is a great choice for summer and other occasions.
For more information: http://www.estatechatzigeorgiou.com