In 1974 an oenologist named Athanassois Parparoussis founded a winery in the Greek Peloponnese. In the 40-plus years since the winery began, Athanassois has placed his enthusiasm on promoting indigenous Greek grape varieties, those that express the nature of the region. Now in partnership with his daughters, the family-owned winery utilizes both private vineyards and the local cooperative.
To understand Parparoussis wines, it is beneficial to understand the nature of the land that brings this wine to life. According to Visit Greece, Peloponnese contains “great archaeological sites such as ancient Olympia, Epidaurus, Mycenae and Tirynth, Byzantine churches, unique settlements and amazing castles, natural beauties such as mountains, forests, rivers and caves surrounded by the sea, beautiful beaches, sandy and smooth coasts on the west – rocky and dentelated on the east, make this part of Greek land ideal for holidays, touring, sports and connecting to the history and culture…” The area is also extremely rich in history, as it was originally settled by people as early as 100.000 years B.C.
“It has dry climate on the east, cold, snow and rich vegetation in its central and mountainous parts and rain and heat on the west.” again, from Visit Greece. Parparoussis is located on the Northwest coast, as seen in the map below. It is from this area that the grapes thrive.
Petite Fleur from Parparoussis Winery
Petite Fleur is, as the name hints, a rosé wine. It is made of 100% Sideritis from the Achais appelation (PGI, in the Greek wine classification). Sideritis is a “thick-skinned, late-ripening variety grown on 25 year-old vines.” according the winery. The Sideritis vineyards are occupied by palm-sized stones and peppered with trace medals. I read that Sideritis can be translated to “iron” or “made of iron” in Greek, but my translation device did not confirm that…however the suggestion has a nice ring to it and matches the mineral impressions the taste profile. This variety benefits from the area’s sea breezes , influence of the central mountain ranges and must be planted at an altitude of 20-700 meters (about 65-2,300 feet).
The family team running Parparoussis Winery produces all organic wines from native varietals. They also set pride upon their routine use of unusual grapes, thus enhancing diversity by increasing consumer interest. The diverse terrain of Greece can support around 300 indigenous grape varietals; Parparoussis is bold about cultivating and/or sourcing lesser known grapes. This effort increases taste and plant diversity and promotes a spirit of creativity.
I recently listened to an episode of I’ll Drink to That which featured Kostas Bakasietas, a viticultural researcher and the owner of a vine nursery in Nemea, Greece. The discussion surrounds preservation, re-cultivation and propagation of grapes that have slipped from production for many reasons. He tells of discovering grapes that are currently unheard of and virtually unidentified. These grapes lack a name or classification. When this happens, they must search old books and records (or ask “old guys” as Bakasietas says) to determine if documentation exists to jump start the understanding process. The ideal situation is finding several sources that confirm or at least hint at the same thing, and oral history often proves to be indispensable.
Diversity is important, of course, for several reasons. Diversity helps with resistance to disease and pests, offering a wider selection of plants with various resistance characteristics. It’s also important as a reflection of terrain, allowing the land to nurture and nourish plants that are native to the region rather than blanketing vineyards with vines that will be coherced through vinification into an outside profile. For the consumer, plant diversity provides more choices, experiences in wine that perhaps would be overlooked if growers weren’t supporting a variety of grapes. And certainly, there is an emotional connection to wine hasn’t been crafted from sweeping effort and commonality, but instead sincere attention to balance cultivation. In this way, the old can become new and dedication and interest rises. For more on vinodiversity, visit Wine Mosaic.
Wine Paring and Suggestions
My husband and I prepared a meal of Greek chicken, lightly seasoned, on the grill and served it with a side of marinated tomatoes & cucumbers. The winemaker recommends slightly lighter items, including grilled shellfish, seafood and vegetables, but the wine stood nicely with the chicken. Petite Fleur is slightly off-dry (not sweet) and exhibits a clean minerality. Pale in color and fresh in profile, this wine would do well for Labor Day (US holiday which translates into long last weekend of summer) by the pool or even a fall hiking picnic.
It was my pleasure to try this wine, which was new to me, and to learn about the processes in place at Parparoussis. To learn more about the winery visit them at their website.