05 July, 2016

Armchair Travel to Greece via the Wines of Ktima Gerovassiliou and Cuisine of Kokkari

Kokkari's spit roasted meat
Maybe a Greek vacation isn't in the cards for your 2016.  You can still armchair travel via a bottle of amazing authentic wine.  Even better, if you can pair that wine with food that matches.  Both in flavors and sensibility, food and wine can transport you safely and conveniently, if you know where to go.

Recently, I was lucky enough to be a guest of  Ktima Gerovassiliou as they poured their new releases at the wonderful  Greek restaurant Kokkari in San Francisco.

"Ktima" means "estate" in Greek.  This 138 acre parcel in the north of Greece close to Thessalonika at the edge of the Epanomi region  is where they grow fruit to vinify delicious wines.  To fully armchair travel, imagine yourself on these sandy clay slopes with a view of bird-rich wetlands on one side, the Aegean on two sides and facing Mt. Olympus.  The maritime effect as well as mild climate are ideally suited to growing grapes, with that tricky alchemy of balancing ripeness and acidity.  They make it look easy

Thrass Giantsidis, whose smile is a welcoming as Greek sunshine and whose handshake is definitely farm strong,  headed up a team to showcase their wine and also highlight how food friendly these offerings are.  No better setting than Kokkari in San Francisco' s FiDi, to feel transported to the Mediterranean.  Bonus: no interaction with the TSA.

Estate White/Ktima Gerovaissiliou
We started with an array of Greek appetizers and Greek wines.   2014 Ktima Gerovassiliou Malagousia expressed floral notes in its aromas and a touch of salinity on the palate, which I loved.

The next wine was the  Ktima Gerovaissiliou 2014 Estate White ($24).  This blend of 50% Malagousia and 50% Assyrtico has aromas of white flowers and exotic citrus that burst from the glass. It had refreshing acidity and smooth texture with its lemony flavors and finish.  Kokkari served it with taramasalata, which is a Greek meze of carp roe , olive oil, lemon and a starchy base that when blended becomes a creamy, briny delight. With lemon as the bridge ingredient and acidity contrasting with the creamy texture, this was a delicious and harmonious pair.  I could not get enough. This wine is available at K&L Wine Merchants in SF for $23.99

Avaton/Ktima Gerovaissiliou
I have a confession: Lamb is not my favorite thing.  I always try it and usually do not enjoy it.  However at Kokkari, the lamb is of exquisite quality, as mild as authentic Grecian lamb and purveyed whole.  After dry aging, the meat is prepared in wood fire, which produces delicious results.  More delicious to me, when paired with the luscious Ktima Gerovasilliou "Avaton" ($60).   This red blend is made with 50% Limnio, 25% Mavrotragano & 20% Mavroudi, which are all red Greek grapes.

 Limnio is credited with being the oldest Greek variety as it was mentioned in the works of Aristotle.  Flavor this delicious is how things get to be classics.  Definitley a great match for the grilled and smoky lamb, this plush wine had wonderful complexity with flavors of plums, earth, tobacco and also firm tannins to make the overall body match.  Separately, these varieties can be harsh. But when blended together and carefully co-fermented in large foudres, the result is a pleasing blend and a natural match for grilled meat, especially lamb.  I love it when experimentation works.

You can try for yourself as this is available at Craft beer and Wine in Alameda.  We met the owner and can vouch for his authentic love of Greek wine.

So when vacation envy of my friends that *did* manage to get to Greece this year sets in, I know I have a place to go where the food is authentic.  And for my home cook stylings, great wines to grace my table and invoke a sense of a classically beautiful and delicious place: Ktima Gerovassiliou

Many thanks to the Ktima Gerovassiliou team and to Feast PR for the invite and dinner

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