Gai’A 14-18h, Dry Rosé, Agiorgitiko paired with lentil and beet salad

April 13, 2011

There are certain things that happen in life that are so completely unforeseen, and yet so completely enriching, that you wonder what life would have been like without them.

Such a thing happened to me a little over a year ago, when I met Markus Stolz on Twitter.

Markus is a German-born financier and wine aficionado who fell in love with a Greek woman, moved to Greece to raise a family with her – and then, to his bewilderment, fell equally in love with Greek wines.

Within a few weeks of reading Markus on Twitter and on his very informative, and very popular blog, elloinos.com, I found myself asking about Greek wines whenever I walked into a wine store. Then of course came the part that I hadn’t expected: I, too, fell in love with Greek wines.

So for the last several months I’ve been researching, learning, reading, hunting, tasting, pouring, pairing and thoroughly enjoying discovering the richness and exquisiteness of the wines made in that stunning country.

For the next few weeks I’ll be writing about my discoveries, and pairing Greek wines with seasonal, gourmet, yet simple recipes. (You can read Gentilini Robola of Cephalonia, paired with roasted asparagus salad and Thimiopoulos Vineyards Uranos, Xinomavro paired with Pan Bagnat both published in June 2011… More coming soon!)

The wine featured today is a magnificent rosé from one of the most reputable wineries in Greece: Gai’A (pronounced “yeai-ah”) Wines. (By the way, the most challenging part of Greek wines hasn’t been tasting them, but pronouncing their names, hence the phonetic inserts I’ve included here.)

Founded in 1994 by Dr. Yiannis Paraskevopoulos (PhD in enology from the University of Bordeaux) and Leon Karatsalos, Gai’A Wines owns vineyards in two different areas of Greece: Nemea (on the southern peninsula of the Peloponnese) and Santorini (the famously stunning island). They have devoted themselves to exploring indigenous Greek varieties and have crafted exquisite wines with great expertise and care.

And every drop of that brilliant labor shines through the wines that I’ve had the pleasure to taste from Gai’A, including their 14-18h Rosé.

Producer: Gai’A Wines
Region: Nemea
Grapes: 100% Agiorgitiko
Alc: 12.5%
Price: $15
I recommend not serving this wine too chilled in order to savor its complex fruit, herbal and mineral flavors.

Agiorgitiko (pronounced “ah yor YEE ti ko”) is the second-most-planted black grape in Greece and is well known for its fruitiness and concentrated red color. It’s mostly used for the production of red wines, but also makes intensely colored rosés.

(The 14-18h acquired its name because the skins are left in contact with the juice for 14 to 18 hours. This is how the wine acquired its deep pink color and magenta hues.)

At first sniff, intense aromas of red cherries, ripe summer peaches and a hint of strawberry fill your nostrils and are quickly followed by a whiff of salty air from the sea and herbal notes.

At first sip, the seductive aromas expand: plush sour cherries, ripe summer stone fruits and hints of mint, anise and hibiscus. The lovely acidity keeps the luscious fruit flavors in check and makes the wine as alive on the tongue as it is to the eye. Round, smooth and juicy, this rosé begs you to take another sip.

What I had in mind for this delectable rosé was this lentil salad with baked beets, spinach and yogurt-mint dressing. The wine turned out to be delightful with it. The sour cherries flavors paired perfectly with the intense flavor of the baked beets, while the herbal element in the wine harmonized with the yogurt-mint dressing. The wine’s acidity danced beautifully with the vinaigrette while its weight stood up to the earthy, protein-rich lentils.

All in all the Gai’A 14-18h Dry Rosé is a fantastic wine at an extraordinarily good value. It’s easy to think of drinking this wine all summer long. In fact, I would happily drink it all year long.

Where to buy Greek wines
In the US: Astor Wines in New York City has a wonderful selection of Greek wines. They ship around the country. My advice is to start with any of the wines above $12.
Grand Wine & Liquor in Astoria, New York also carries many Greek wines. Not all are listed on their site, so call the store directly at (718) 728-2520. They ship!
In Europe: 600 Bottles sells outstanding Greek wines online.

Where to taste Greek wines
One of the best ways to taste Greek wines is in restaurants. In New York, Sommelier Michael Madrigale of Bar Boulud and Boulud Sud features many superb Greek wines on his wine lists, including vintages available nowhere else. Molyvos has an outstanding wine list offering wines from every part of Greece. Snack Taverna has a small but excellent wine list. They also offer wines by the glass.

Next time you see a Greek wine on a restaurant’s wine list, don’t be shy, try it – there’s much to discover and enjoy!

Recipe: Lentil salad with baked beets, spinach and yogurt-mint dressing

For another stunning wine and salad pairing take a peek at this article: tomato salad and rosé wine: a match made in heaven.

© 2011 Viviane Bauquet Farre Food & Style NY LLC

Disclaimer: As always, my point of view is my own. I do not accept samples, and have no commercial relationship with any product, food or wine company.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Rajesh April 13, 2011 at 3:11 pm

These photos are so incredible that it makes me want to reach out and grab that wine glass. I never knew Greek produced such fantastic wines (not to mention at such an affordable price).

The lentil salad you’ve paired with the wine seems like the perfect way to get transported to Greece’s shores.

We are ordering a case of this wine for sure.

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Viviane April 13, 2011 at 4:08 pm

Thank you so much Rajesh! I know you will love this wine.

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Helena April 13, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Your tasting notes on this wine are incredibly informative; I can almost taste the wine! I recently had the rare opportunity to taste a few good Greek wines and was pleasantly surprised at their quality. It’s nice to see that you are giving them this well deserved attention.

I recently made your lentil salad with beets and it was absolutely delicious. A perfect meal for the springtime. Pairing it with this wine brings it to yet another level of elegance!

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Elle April 13, 2011 at 3:46 pm

Life is never the same after this pairing… oh Viviane, thank you!! Delicious.

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Sheila April 13, 2011 at 3:53 pm

What I love best about Viviane’s recipe’s are the following: Firstly: the photo entices me by its beautiful presentation. Secondly: I am actually able to easily follow her recipes. Thirdly: I can try real hard and come close to making my presentation resemble her picture. Fourthly: I impress my guests with presentation and taste. Fifthly: Friends/relatives ask for the recipes. Lastly: I am asked to make it again and again. Note: This goes for anything I have ever made with Viviane’s guidance and recipes…they are delicious and failsafe! PS>Can’t wait to now try this one…it looks yummy:)

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Sheila April 13, 2011 at 4:00 pm

I almost forgot…Viviane’s pairing of her wines with her recipes are wonderful compliments to one another and to your tastebuds!

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Viviane April 13, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Elle, Sheila, Helena, Thank you all for your wonderful comments – I am now blushing beet-red!

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Mary Lynn April 14, 2011 at 10:57 am

I love the color of this wine–it’s absolutely beautiful. I’ve heard a lot of people are turning to Greek wines lately. I can’t wait to try. And it’s wonderful to see what to pair a wine like this with. Thank you, Viviane!

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JoAnna April 14, 2011 at 11:08 am

Viviane…You are such a natural born teacher! I learn so much from you with each posting. Now, the pairing of the beautiful, well priced Greek wine with the delicious beet salad…that’s my mini vacation this month…off to Greece! Thank you sharing your brilliance with us.

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Viviane April 14, 2011 at 12:25 pm

JoAnna, Mary Lynn… Thank you both for your comments – you really touched my heart. And I do hope you try Greek wines when you have a chance… It WILL be a mini vacation – I promise!

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visda April 15, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Great pairing. I never knew what to pair with beets. Great ideas and gorgeous pictures. Thanks for sharing.

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Bess Jack May 5, 2012 at 7:47 am

Can you tell me where in the Portsmouth, NH or Portland, ME
area where I can buy this wine,14 18h, Argiorgitiko.
Thanks, Bess

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Viviane May 5, 2012 at 10:21 am

Hi Bess, Do you know about Wine Searcher? http://www.wine-searcher.com/ This is one of the best wine searching tools on the internet. Of course it only searches wine stores that list their products on their website, but this is a good start. Unfortunately, no results came in for NH or MN for this particular wine. The best would be for you to Google wine stores that carry Greek wines in your area. Call them up, ask if they carry this wine and if they don’t ask them if they would order some for you. Most wine stores are very happy to do this, especially that this wine is brought in by one of the major importers on the East Coast, which most stores would already be working with. Let me know if you need more info and good luck finding the wine. It’s worth the effort. Cheers!

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