Q. What is your fondest wine memory?
A. Many! Drinking with my wife Elli an Ornellaia and a Pichon some years ago. Discovering Massandra wines from Crimea, tasting some rare Greek wines from Naoussa, Santorini and Nemea. Did I forget about tasting old vintages of Richbourg?
Q. The Master of Wine qualification is generally regarded in the wine industry as one of the highest standards of professional knowledge, and you are one of the two Greeks who currently hold the Master of Wine title. What was the driving force behind your decision to pursue this qualification?
Greek wine has entered a favourable momentum
A. I always loved challenges and in that case I wanted something solid to believe in. What was better than the MW bet? That was a mountain to climb, my mountain and I loved it all the way. The MW was therefore the ultimate challenge and a way to say beyond any doubt that I am here…
Q. Acquiring the MW qualification is a complex and time-consuming process, requiring years of work and assessment on both theoretical and practical components. What was the most challenging part of the process for you?
A. Passing the practical part while living in Greece where not all styles of wines are imported. Also writing a successful scientific paper for a Greek region, Naoussa!
Q. You spend much of your time exploring wine developments in wine-making regions in Greece and abroad. Are there any trends that you have noticed that are starting to gain momentum (either in Greece or internationally)?
A. That is a huge question! Premiumization of Santorini is happening I guess and we need something to follow….Will that be another Greek variety like Robola or Vidiano or Xinomavro I don’t know. Worldwide there is a talk about ‘’natural’’ wines which I hate as a term yet the good wines of that category I have tasted are not under that umbrella. They just don’t use the natural stuff as a marketing tool…
Q. European countries like France, Italy and Spain are among the world’s greatest wine exporters – but not Greece. What is the Greek wine industry getting right and what is it getting wrong?
A. Getting right the Greek whites. Getting wrong sometimes some reds with too much oak and some big wines blending vanilla and overripe grapes… The big issue of course is raw material, so a lot of work is needed in the vineyard. Upcoming clonal selection will raise quality I am sure.
Q. How do you see the future of Greek wine makers in the international wine scene?
A. Greek wine has entered a favourable momentum. Will it last for 3 or 5 years I do not know but the train has made a stop. We need to keep working on raising quality while understanding what each market needs and provide them with that. A clear marketing strategy is also key.
Q. We know that pre-phylloxera wines, Pinot Noir, Barolo and Tokaji are the wine passions closest to your heart. What is your favorite bottle of wine right now and why?
Helping Greek wine become bigger!
A. Aha! Thy kingdom for a Tarlant La Vigne d’Antan, Terre Nerre Pre-Phylloxera or Dalamara Vignes Franches from Naoussa….And there is of course Burgundy which is the obvious answer to all questions.
Q. If you could only pick only one wine as representative of Greece, which one would it be?
A. Nice try J
Q. An excellent wine is… (please complete the sentence)
Q. What person in history would you like to share some wine with, and what would you pour?
A. Never thought of that….so I can pick anyone? The obvious answer would be Alexander the Great but can I choose a more recent one? Henri Jayer it is. I would pour a mature Naoussa Xinomavro.
Q. With extensive experience in the field and now such a highly revered qualification under your belt, what are your ultimate career goals?
A. Helping Greek wine become bigger!
Q. Where do you see yourself in five years from now?
A. I never think of that, I just aim to do things as professionally as possible.