Friday, January 08, 2016

SAVEUR. The best wine we drank in 2015.

The best wines I drink are rarely drunk alone. They're drunk at dinner, with friends, who often bring their own favorites to share. We rarely drink these wines as standalone entities. We taste and we talk, consider them with the food they're served with and view them as representations of their region. So if you're going to pick the best wines you've drunk all year, you can't think of them simply as drinks. You have to consider where they come from and the factors that make them what they are.
Geography plays the most crucial role in a wine's fate, which is why I picked my favorite wines on geography alone. Whether it's the harsh climes of the Finger Lakes and Ontario, or the unpredictable island conditions of Giglio and Crete, farmers and wine makers have learned about and adapted to these natural elements. They've formed a bond between human and nature that's as unique as the wines being made in these provocative regions.

Crete, Greece

Crete is a special region. It's Old World, but its grapes aren't typical. In the '70s, a devastating disease known as Phylloxera wiped out much of the island's old vines, and when winemakers planted new vines, they made an effort to focus on indigenous varietals. Yiannis Economou produces incredible wines from local grapes on the eastern side of the island, in Ziros, at his winery Domaine Economou. Economou made wine in Bordeaux and Piedmont before moving back to his native Crete. One of his wines, liatiko, is a clear reflection of his past. You can taste the power and structure common in Bordeaux, but there is finesse and elegance like the Barolos of Piedmont. Despite the region's hot climate, the wine drinks with a surprising deftness. It's not overly extracted and dense, but smoky and sharp instead, with dark fruit notes casually wafting from the glass and not jumping out with reckless abandon.
Technicalities aside, these regions showcase winemaking at its finest. The climate and conditions are extreme here. Due to a lack of consistent, predictable growing conditions in these regions, there is a harmony reached between winemaker and nature in these wines that is unrivaled in many other parts of the world. In the Finger Lakes, Ontario, Giglio, and Crete, winemaker and nature work in tandem, not independently. Farmers and winemakers have set roots in these regions and committed to learning the intricacies of the land they live on. They have nit-picked and explored this relationship to exhaustive lengths, year after year, so that we, the consumer, can get a glimpse and taste of these special corners of the world.