AG Pick: 2008 Gaia Agiorgitiko

Kick of a new year by tasting a new grape!  Agiorgitiko is a red wine grape native to Greece that produces wines that range from medium-bodied to extremely tannic.  Agiorgitiko, along with Xynomavro make up Greece’s most notable red wines and are just two of the country’s two hundred or so indigenous varieties.

Don’t be intimidated by the hard to pronounce name.  Agiorgitiko, also called St. George, is an approachable grape that resembles Merlot in taste.

An excellent introduction to this Greek grape is the 2008 Gaia Agiorgitiko.  It has the structure and flavors reminiscent of an Old World Merlot with the layered complexity of a good Pinot Noir.

The Gaia winery is located in Nemea in the northeastern part of the Peloponnese, which is the southernmost part of mainland Greece.  Here the vineyards are exposed to chalky soils, cooler temperatures and an ideal amount of sunlight.

Deep purple red in color, the Gaia Agiorgitiko has intense aromas of ripe fruit and spicy oak.  On the palate are flavors of plum, raspberry, cedar, nutmeg and a hint of vanilla.  Gentle tannins give this medium bodied wine a nice mouthfeel.  The wine finishes soft and smooth.

Pair the Gaia Agiorgitiko with hamburgers, lamb and other richly flavored red meat dishes.

A bottle of the 2008 Gaia Agiorgitiko costs $24.

13% alcohol by volume