Site: Altitude 600-650 meters on plateau of Ziros, Sitia, Crete
Vineyards: 10 hectares
Climate: Mountainous Mediterranean (warm days, moderate nights)
Soil: Calcareous, rich in Flysch and Phyllite
Grape varieties: White - Thrapsathiri, Vilana, Αssyrtiko
Red: Liatiko, Mandilari
Production: 20.000 bottles in average
No one can deny that the emergence of the red grape variety Liatiko is closely connected to the efforts of a winemaker from Sitia of Crete, Giannis Economou. Through his hard and persistent work he succeeded in proving that even a “small," relatively unknown variety can produce wines of world class.
With deep professional experience as an oenologist in internationally renowned estates* and a precise aesthetic approach developed over the years, Giannis Economou has achieved to make wines with an unparalleled expression of a style, that although could slightly remind of a mature white Burgundy or an aged Barolo, is not subject to any mimicking tendency.
Next to the impressive uplifted by refreshing acidity oily, gastronomic Thrapsathiri-Vilana, the fully-textured mineral Assyrtiko reminiscent of an Alsatian Grand Cru Riesling with its petrol and flinty hints and the mature “natural orange wine” from Thrapsathiri with the complex, almost rancio nose with mature caramelized citrus aromas, the wines from Liatiko are those that draw the attention of wine lovers whether they are dry or sweet.
According to Giannis Economou, good wine at a theoretical and practical level is not required to be just technologically up to par, since this is feasible for all the wines which are produced regardless the price category in which they belong. A truly great wine must have identity and reflect the nature and tradition in which it is born, from grapevines that have perfectly adapted to the soil and climate of the area they are cultivated in, with minimum intervention and limited use of technology.
The old ungrafted Liatiko vines (60-80 years old) that grow on the plateau of Ziros, provide for a great advantage in forming the character of the wine while it is an important and determined parameter of quality as the years go by. Each year the resiliency they develop helps them respond better and more efficiently to the fluctuations of weather conditions and the general climatic changes. The wines they produce neither have high levels of astringent tannins nor the intense green aromas or the bitterness that one often finds in wines produced out of young vines.
The practices and actions applied such as the return of the linear vineyards to their original bush form, the implementation of organic farming since 1997, the exceptionally low yields, the purely manual labor and the use of indigenous yeast, to mention just a few, aim at taking advantage of the natural dynamic of the vineyard and its interpretation into quality. Within this framework, the time of maturing in the bottle does not necessarily keep up with the standards of other wineries. The time of maturation may differ among wines from different vintages depending on their quality. Thus, a wine from a good year may stay in the cellar for a long time (even a decade in some cases) until the producer determines whether or not it should be marketed. So, the time the wine is released consumers are able to evaluate and assess the wine based on its progress, exactly as they would do with some other well known wines of the world.
Economou’s way of pushing the boundaries of possibilities regarding quality and style doesn’t allow any room for a bad or mediocre result. His approach of being positioned as individualistic and authentic within a globalized and standardized market was really worth his trouble. It is not by luck that Giannis Economou is considered as one of the best wine producers in Greece and his wines are listed in top restaurants in New York, London, Montreal and Tokyo.
*Giannis Economou worked at Chateau Margaux in Bordeaux, at Ceretto Aziende Vitivinicole and Enrico Scavino in Piemonte and Franz Keller in Freiburg in Germany, among others.
Liatiko 2006, Domain Economou. PGI Crete
Regardless of the vintage or maturity, once you have tasted Economou’s Liatiko, it is easy to confirm over and over again that this is a wine breathed by originality and defined by high aesthetics. Despite being powerful, it has not been made to show off but to offer wine lovers an alternative with emphasis on quality and naturalness rather than stylistic matter that tend to serve only commercial purposes.
Medium brick red colour; mature developing nose with no sign of degradation. Clean broad fruit intermingled with ripe vegetal notes and discrete aromas of dried Mediterranean herbs and spices. A soft texture deriving from grapes of old ungrafted vines as well as from extensive cellaring for almost a decade, thus making worthwhile the patience for all these years of maturation.
The good preserved acidity makes for a refreshing mouthful connecting the subtle tannic structure, which translates into the evident power to staying alive for the years to come, with a multi-layered flavor capacity. The alcohol appears balanced and well integrated.
The savory palate, the lively spice fruit and the dried herb aromas fold out gradually during its long persistent length.
Juicy without any sense of satiation, it can offer pleasure in a meal of complex and clean tastes such as Sushi and fish-based recipes.
Liatiko 2006 is an idiosyncratic and elegant wine from an exceptionally talented winemaker. A wine in a class of its own.