Overview of Wine in Rhodes in plain English.
Let’s start with the cost, current as of 2016.
- “Le Local” Plonk – Not the prettiest but at 4€ per litre what were you expecting?
- Straight from the wineries – Good bottle around 9-10€
- Restaurant – Reasonable bottle 20-25€ and maybe not as cold as you would like. Cheap house by the glass 3€.
Wine is not cheap here but once you consider the time and effort it takes to produce you understand why.
Rhodes has been renowned for its wines since ancient Greek times, although back in early to mid 1900 (1912-1945) Italians inhabited the island and rekindled the viticulture and wine making methods and wine has been created here ever since in the super hot summers. Worth noting, grape harvest commences in late July, earlier than most European areas, so in July/August you should see trucks trundling around loaded with grapes. P.S. Embonas is a pickup truck spotters paradise!
The dominant grapes are (White) Athiri and the (Red) Amorgiano also known as Mandelaria, original local varieties known for their characteristically low yields. We also found Muscat to also be popular.
Do not expect to see row upon row of beautiful neat vines, the vines are grown all over the place, from tiny patches of soil with vines rambling on the ground, to some that are trained and grow in very low canopies ensuring that every drop of rain that arrives is effectively consumed. There are some high up in the mountains where you cannot see them let alone have any clue how you get to them to harvest them, you hear tales of how some of the new generations seem to have even lost the paths to access them as the old people start to become too fragile to continue the harvest and pass the knowledge down to the next generation.
The main wine region is called Embonas, sometimes translated as Emponas, It is located halfway up the Attavyros mountain of 1,215 m height and a lovely local village. On the top of the mountain is the temple of Zeus, god of sky and thunder. Based on our time there we could have certainly done with some cloud cover and a bit of a rain storm 😉
There are a few wineries in Rhodes and the main two are CAIR and Emery then you filter down to the smaller local producers. Below are the main wineries in Embonas
Due to time we only visited Emery and Kounakis.
This is a family owned and operated company that was established on Rhodes in 1923, run by the third generate of the Triantafillou family with a respect for tradition and values producing truly bespoke Rhodes wines.
When we arrived we were lucky to be the only people in the cellar which paid dividends as we got to taste the various wines and learnt about the area and production and it was a cool break from the baking hot sun! The day before it was packed with 18 coach trips! So if you’re going its worth a call to make sure you pick the right time. Vasilis Georgas was very knowledgeable and could answer all our questions. Emery have worked closely with the local vine growers for decades, using their expertise to go out to inspect and ensuring that the grapes are harvested at just their peek moment, enabling them to offer a range of quality unique wines from these Greek varietal grapes, many grown since ancient times.
Is it not an easy place to grow grapes and as Emery do not grow their own and rely on the local vine growers, modern life is taking its toll. Due to the time and effort it takes to grow quality grapes the winery has gone from production of over a million bottles to around 500,000 as younger generations take over and start to use the land for easier crops, e.g. olives as they require less labour and expertise. Due to this fact, Emery do not export wine, apart from a few boxes to a company in America that provide their oak barrels, which incidentally end up back in America ready to be used as whisky barrels.
The cellar has a set of old vineyard production pieces that Emery are looking to revive to produce a limited run of a traditional sparkling wine to celebrate their up and coming anniversary, recreating a previous sparkling wine” Grand Prix”. This would be great news as we found there wines to be particularly good and would love to one day taste this new addition.
Although we also visited this local winery and tasted 13 wines here the general quality was not as good as Emery, that’s a lot of varieties for a winery that produce approx 20,000 bottles a year? Most wines where of mixed varieties and many new world varieties, the staff were lovely but nowhere as knowledgeable but they did produce a few things that took our interest, a juicy light red called Red Button, sweet red and a local walnut liqueur which was delicious. If we weren’t on a hand luggage only flight we would have definitively picked up a bottle of these to bring home, unfortunately they wouldn’t ship one across to the UK, maybe next time as it would be a great addition to the drinks cabinet!
Great to have experienced wine that you would never see on the shelves of your local wine shops unless, of course, you happen to be living in or visiting Rhodes.
Wines of the week.
Debs – Emery – White Wine – Villaré. Mid mountain. Pale Lemon , soft fruity aroma with a velvety taste and easy to drink. Lovely balance between alcohol level and acidity and long finishing taste.
Steves – Emery – White Wine -Aonpi Boynonaai – High Mountain. Pale lemon/gold colour. Nice fresh, elegant and fruit character, medium bodied with white fruits and butter.
Both Emery and Kounakis sweet reds were also in the running if paired with the correct foods.
Sorry to disappoint but not the standard local brew Ouzo, we went for Kapyai, the walnut liqueur made with a secret blend of herbs and spices. Golden in colour and just sweet enough, lighter than your standard liqueur. Real little winner worth a try if you’re over in Rhodes 🙂
- Rodos Kokkino
- Emery Rose
- Sweet Red – (Sorry guys, name evades me but it was nice)
- Aonpi Boynonaai
- Aeyko Mmishpo
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- The Red Sweet
- Red Blend
- Oak Double Blend
- Red Button Red
- Syrah Red
- Tripe Fermentation White
- Black Label White
- Sweet White
- White Blend
- White Label
Maestro White Artiri – Muscat, rather bland.
Adnpi – White (Seriously nasty wine, to be avoided unless you are really really desperate!)
Mesogios – Rose, woody and watery, although it states Rhodes, we later found, it was actually from main land Greece
Made with hint of pine tree sap, very traditional and stems back from the 3rd Century, interesting and drinkable for Deb but not on Steve list to drink again.
Debs and Steve