A blog devoted to exploring wines made from unusual grape varieties and/or grown in unfamiliar regions all over the world. All wines are purchased by me from shops in the Boston metro area or directly from wineries that I have visited. If a reviewed bottle is a free sample, that fact is acknowledged prior to the bottle's review. I do not receive any compensation from any of the wineries, wine shops or companies that I mention on the blog.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Moschofilero - Peloponnesos, Greece

(author's note: I was finally able to get an affordable copy of Konstantinos Lazarakis' outstanding "The Wines of Greece" and have leaned heavily on it for the information in this post)

Looking at the grapes over on the left, if you had to hazard a guess, what style of wine would think they would produce?  My first thought would probably be a light red wine like Schiava or Pinot Noir, and I'd be wrong.  Those are Moschofilero grapes from Greece and, like their pink-skinned Greek counterpart Roditis, they are used to produced a white wine. 
Much of the Moschofilero grown in Greece is grown in the region of Peloponnesos.  We've briefly visiting Peloponnesos before: both Agiorghitiko and Roditis are produced in this region.  Roditis is grown in Patras, at the far north of Peloponnesos while Agiorgitiko is grown in Nemea in the northeastern corner.  Moschofilero is grown all over Peloponnesos and on many of the smaller islands, but the best of it is grown in Mantinia, located just south of Patras and just southwest of Nemea.

One might think, based on the name of the grape, that Moschofilero may have some kind of relation to one of the many Muscat varietals, but it doesn't.  The "moscho" part of the grape name is derived from the world "moschato," which means aromatic, which both Moschofilero and Muscat certainly are.  It is also not related to Gewurztraminer though it certainly can resemble it.  So now we know what Moschofilero isn't, how about we talk about what it is?  It is a genetically unstable grape, meaning there is a lot of clonal variation.  It's kind of like how Torrontés is actually three different grapes; there are similarly three different clones of Moschofilero that make up most of the plantings in Greece: Asprofilero, Xanthrofilero and Mavrofilero (which itself has two different sub-clones with wildly different sugar contents), all of which have different skin colors (aspro = white, xanthro = blonde and mavro = black), leaf shapes, bunch shapes and growing habits.  Additionally, the variants have different pick times and different acid and sugar levels.  Since all of the clonal variants are allowed to fly under the catch-all "Moschofilero" banner, chances are that what's in the bottle that you find is probably a blend of several different clones.

There are two bottles under consideration here today.  The first is the 2006 Nasiakos Moschofilero from the Mantinia region.  I picked this up for around $16 (I didn't get a picture of the label and can't find anything online that looks similar).  The wine had a golden color in the glass and I immediately began to wonder if this was over the hill.  The nose was very reticent with just little bit of honeysuckle flower to it.  This was my first Moschofilero, so I wasn't sure if something was amiss or not, because everything I had read about this wine was extolling its wonderful perfume and this wine was just not there aromatically.  I pressed on, though, and found the wine pretty full-bodied in the glass with high acidity and nice white peach, honeysuckle and lemon curd flavors.  There was definitely a creamy citrusy thing going on here.  It was a nicely balanced wine with the acid really holding the surprisingly full body together.  This wine was certainly not dead in the bottle, but it was disappointing to see the aromatics fade so quickly.  I made a note to buy a more recent vintage and after searching for awhile, I finally found one.

I picked up a bottle of the 2009 Skouras Moschofilero from my friends at Bin Ends for about $14.50.  The color was a much lighter straw color in the glass.  The nose was explosively fragrant with lemon/lime citrus, green apple, and orange blossom.  It was very reminiscent of a dry Muscat or a Gewurztraminer and was much more like what I had been expecting from this grape.  This wine was more light/med bodied with very high acidity (bracingly acidic is the phrase in my notes).  The flavors were very lemony with some green apple, white peach, apricot and honeysuckle in there as well.  It finished with that slightly grapey flavor that muscat is known for, but the finish evolves into a nice steely crispness right at the end.  The wine continued to open up and evolve as I drank through the bottle.  The flavor profile was somewhere between an Rkatsiteli and a Muscat for me with lots of flowery citrus.  This wine was superior to the older bottling and I would recommend that you drink this wine young to fully enjoy its lovely perfume.  I think it is a very versatile food wine that would also be a perfect aperitif that would be guaranteed to get some conversations started at a party. 

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