Thursday, December 02, 2010

From "" by Nico Manessis.

"2000 Sitia Domaine Economou Ziros Crete
My recent weeklong Cretan visit kicked off with one of the great personalities of today’s Greek wine. Yannis Economou marches to his own idiosyncratic beat. It is a complex, challenging and ultimately rewarding rhythm. With an unrivalled curriculum vitae, fluent in five languages, this 47-year-old was, when I first visited him back in 1995, a reluctant disciple of natural wine.

He argues, convincingly, that he had no other choice in making such wines. It is the anomaly of the Ziros plateau (600 m.) that these 60- to 70-year-old ungrafted vines are solely responsible for delivering low yields and a naturally high acidity. He adds, “I just nurture them (very low sulphuring) and bottle when I feel they are ready”.

He does admit to selling off lesser vintages and keeping only the best vintages. The current release is the 2000 Sitia. The only other dry vintage to preview was a stunning 2006 Sitia. It tasted so shockingly youthful that it only reiterated Economou’s viewpoint of his unique plateau where he sources his remarkable grapes. Economou claims that what is called “Liatiko” in central and western Crete could well be another, altogether different grape. I am not so sure. Fellow Cretan producer Nikos Douloufakis, in Dafnes, above the town of Iraklio, claims he has seen the Ziros Liatiko grapes. He says it is a different, smaller-berried clone. Coupled with the high altitude and much cooler nights, this may explain the measurable difference in styles and the success of this remarkable bone-dry red wine.

Having recently enjoyed a Morgon by the father of natural wine, the late Marcel Lapierre, I could not help thinking what Marcel would have thought of this vin-de-terroir natural-wine rarity.

Pale, ruby brown. Initially reductive, it opens up after 20 minutes in carafe. Very Burgundian, floral and spice, Pinot-noir nose. Ethereal, very fine aromas evolving in the glass. Delicate but insistent middle palate that blossoms in layers on the aftertaste. A wine of great purity. Classy. Complete. There is nothing remotely quite like it elsewhere in the Greek vineyard.Best: 2010-2015

Score: 18.5 / 20