It is believed that wine was introduced in Greece around 4000 BC and there is evidence, found on artifacts, that it was known to the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations.
The ancient Greeks believed that the wine was a gift from the gods. They held festivities in honor of Dionysus, the god of wine. These festivals were held during winter months and were celebrated by performing arts and wine drinking. Vineyards, grapes and wine drinking festivities were painted on hundreds of ancient Greek artifacts of clay, marble and metal.
It has long been known that the ancient Greeks were sophisticated and intellectual people. During their time, the ancient Greeks organizes “symposia” - an intellectual gathering where they would talk about philosophical subjects over food and wine. They believed that wine helps a person achieve greater intellectual clarity and spiritual awareness.
Aside from its social functions, Wine also played and important role in the evolution of the local economy. The Greeks traded their wines throughout the ancient world by ship inside sealed amphorae. And like the branding of wines in our own time, amphorae's handles were used to place the wine-makers stamp on one and the local ruler's stamp on the other. Evidence from numerous shipwrecks tells us that Greek wine was traded throughout the known ancient world.
Homer, an ancient Greek author, noted that wine was a valuable commercial product used to barter for needed metals, leather and even slaves. The Greek wine trade was organized and sophisticated and was one of the methods the Greeks used to spread their culture throughout the ancient world.
The ancient Greeks where the ones who introduced wine-making to techniques to their colonies in Italy and Sicily around the 8th century BC and later in France and Spain. A legacy still seen today. In fact in 2011; France, Italy and Spain are the three top wine-producing countries in the world. In addition to that, the Italian grapes such as Aglianico, Aleatico, Greco di Tufo, Malvasia di Candia, Malvasia Bianca, Moscato and Moscatelli are all of Greek origin.
The decline of wine cultivation started during the end of the Byzantine empire and grapevines were virtually vanished during the Ottoman empire. Greeks being under the Ottoman rule for five centuries lost their continuity in tradition of wine cultivation. At that time only a few areas in Greece cultivated wine and it was mostly in regions around monasteries. This fact led to a long period of wine culture with minimal standards of taste and quality.
In recent years, the Greek wine industry has undergone enormous improvement with serious investments in modern wine making technology. The new generation of native winemakers is being trained in the best wine schools around the world and their efforts are paying off as Greek wines continue to receive the highest awards in international competitions as well as the recognition they deserve throughout the world.
Dionysus was the son of Semele (a mortal woman) and Zeus (the king of the Gods). The ancient Greeks revered him as the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness and ecstasy.
The ancient Greeks believed that Dionysus, invented wine and spread the art of tending grapes. They held festivities in his honor.
It can be said that Dionysus is the embodiment of the effects of wine on men. It is evident in the god's dual nature. On one hand, he can bring joy and divine ecstasy. On the other brutal, unthinking, rage. Thus, reflecting both sides of wines nature. Dionysus could also drive a man into madness.
George Kokotos and his wife Anne founded Semeli Wines in 1979. They were one of the first waves of wine producers to concentrate on producing limited qualities of fine wine. The company owns an estate in northern Attica in the foothills of Mount Penteli. According to Greek Mythology, it was in this area that Dionysus the God of wine first taught man the cultivation of the vine and introduced the culture of wine to the Greeks. To the ancient Greeks, this area was well known for producing high quality wine. Thus, to honor this association to mythology, the first wine produced by the couple was named Semeli – Dionysus' mortal mother.
This 100% Savatiano has a pale color but strong, floral nose. Its fruit component is light, burt even, featuring barely ripe pear and a touch of citrus. Acidity is pronounced, body is towards full. It is bone dry with power to spare at the finish.
This cold-fermented 100% Moschofilero has light brass color with green hints at the rim. Its nose exhibits some of the classic rose associated with the variety. Its clean pear and citrus fruit is balanced nicely by a soft acidity that finishes with a pleasant citrus end taste.
This Chardonnay has a soft honey nose, and a spare, linear palate. Despite the shortcomings of a hot vintage, this wine recoups with solid body and a lively finish.
The grapes for this varietal are carried from Aigialia (Peloponessos) under refrigeration, then cold fermented in stainless steel. The wine then spends 10 months on its lies. Pale with green tints, it has a bountiful nose of flowers and sweet wood. Its fruit is round, characterized by lots of dry extract. It is mouthfilling while still light, balanced by great acidity and some minerals as well. Its long, tart finish is accompanied by some yeast and oak.
This, another Aigialia Roditis, is barrel fermented. After fermentation it spends 7-8 additional months in oak. It has a consistent, light yellow color. Its nose exhibits lovely caramel. Its fruit is round and vibrant, mouthfilling and in balance with sturdy acid. It has a good finish and a soft aftertaste in which oak plays a substantial, but pleasant, role.
This wine, which may be the first Attikan Riesling, has strong aromas typical of the variety. Its fruit, is concentrated and round but softer than northern-clime versions. It has a, medium build, and a clean, long finish.
Semeli produces under 1,000 bottles per year of this varietal. It has a ripe, fruity nose and golden color. Even fruit on the palate is supported by strong acidity and long, tart finish.
This rosé from 100% Agiorgitiko is sourced from Nemean grapes grown at 700 meters. Its color shows the beautiful purple hue of Agiorgitiko, its nose is light with candy aromas. Its body in general and acidity are strong, its mid-palate dominated by citrus.
A blend of 75% Agiorgitiko with 25% Cabernet (both from Nemea), it exhibits blue on its rim and a strong nose combining fruit, vegetation and wood. Its gives solid fruit and acidity in balance. Its finish is respectable with a berry aftertaste and none of the wood flavors its aromas would suggest.
This estate-grown Cabernet spends two years in oak followed by another year in bottle. It has dark cherry color and a light nose of cedar, cut wood and red fruit. Soft, rich fruit has a mature flavor profile. It has a pleasant, woody end taste.
This 100% Agiorgitiko spends 12 months in barrel, 6 months in bottle. A deep cherry color with light purple edges, it has a sweet nose with a hint of paint. The palate has a nice attack of fruit and acidity, though I would characterize its body as light. Light tannins prevail at the finish.
Cherry red with purple edge, this Agiorgitiko has a medium nose of light cedar and forest floor. Medium bodied, with a soft palate, like the 1998 it has a good cherry attack, but austere fruit.