Affordable wine reviews: Elios Mediterranean Red and White

It’s probably a smart idea for the producers of these wines not to tout that the grapes hail from Greece (hence, “Mediterranean). Although this region pretty much invented wine, Greece hasn’t exactly sustained a stellar reputation in recent years. Thank the vile, resin-infused Retsina for that. But, if Elios is any indication, Greece might be making a comeback. Wine geeks and sommeliers are beginning to wake up to the possibility that good wine could actually originate from the land of Retsina. My first experience with their refurbishment came at Zaytinta in Washington DC several years ago, a hardcore Greek restaurant that doesn’t even carry “traditional” wines by the glass. The bartender quizzed me about the kind of wine I normally like, so he could translate my tastebuds. It was a grape varietal I couldn’t pronounce, let alone remember now.

So I guess I wasn’t surprised when I enjoyed these new, affordable wines from Elios, a new brand from a partnership of Boutari in Greece and the American importer Terlato Wines. They’re “marketed” in every sense of the word… their website touts affordability, approachability… and throws in verbiage like “traditional grapes such as Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon blended with Mediterranean grapes that are reminiscent of the sun soaked beaches, deliciously fresh foods, and relaxed culture of the Mediterranean”.  Whatever… it’s when the wine hits the tongue that counts.

I admit I was impressed. The Elios Mediterranean Red is a blend of Agiorgitiko — an indigenous grape used for softness and fruit — Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Rustic, serious and earthy, this is not a party-hearty quaffing wine; it’s made for food and for sipping. Medium-bodied with ripe blackberry and black cherry peeking through, along with black pepper, fig and a smattering of oak. Enough acidity to stand up to fatty pork barbecue, a mid-rare burger or a lamb roast. (Or this recipe for Poor Man’s Osso Bucco). If you like robust wines, this is one to buy by the case, ladies and gents.

Sweetness: 1 out of 10
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Price: $11- $14
Occasion: Terlato provided samples.
Availability: Starting to be on retail shelves throughout the country.
In Tampa, find it at Jenn’s Fine Wines, Ed’s Fine Wines and Luekins Liquors.

Elios Mediterranean White is a blend of  Moschofilero (an aromatic Greek grape for which Boutari is particularly famous), Chardonnay and smaller percentages of Roditis and Savatiano, two grapes also from Greece which add acidity and bright fruit flavors. Although I preferred the red blend to the white, for the price, this wine is pretty nice. Crisp acidity, steely and refreshing with citrus, white apricot, lemon-lime and hay.  Kind of like a super aromatic sauvignon blanc. Light bodied and food friendly.

Sweetness: 1 out of 10
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Price: $11- $14

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