In my neck of the woods, it seems as if Greece is attempting to become the new Spain. There are now a bevvy of inexpensive Greek whites and reds available in the local wine shop. Some are great finds like - Robola, Xinomavro and Santorini (named for the island of origin. Santorini is made from Asyrtio). My favorite Greek grape name to date is Roditis. I was drawn to it as the name reminded me of the sounds of Jawas celebrating the short-circuiting of R2D2 (admit it, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Listen here). Sadly, my first taste of Roditis wasn't fantastic. I will however, try it again, if only so I can say, "Roditis!"
It's sad that Merlot's reputation as a varietal has been sullied by waves of under-whelming wine. How often do you hear someone (who fancies themselves a wine lover) order a bottle of Merlot? Last week at a lovely little restaurant in Santa Barbara, I ordered a glass of Westerly Merlot '03 to try with lamb. The wine was not at all soft and fruity. Rather, it was a little herby and a little edgy - perfect with roasted meat. My new mantra: "Don't hate the grape, hate the winemaker's hand."
The Hands of Winemakers
Speaking of my new mantra (and I don't hate, the word 'hate' just fits better in the mantra. Let's call it 'dislike'.), while in Cali, I had the opportunity to taste two wines from the very same vineyards, but made by different hands. One a Sangiovese by Bruno, the other, a Sangiovese by [name redacted]. Bruno was as complicated and lovely a red wine as one could ever want. On the other hand, the [redacted] Sangiovese was an over-opulent, droopy ball of fruit and alcohol. It seems the major difference in the two was the winemakers. Some get it. some don't.