When the Greek Ambassador to India, H.E Panos Kalogeropoulos, invited me to his residence to meet a Greek winemaker who was his house guest for a few days, I knew it had to be someone famous. But exactly how famous? I had no clue till I met Vangelis Gerovassiliou and he began talking to me about his estate and his award winning wines.
Vangelis Gerovassiliou is a winemaker who is credited with the revival of Malagousia, an ancient indigenous Greek grape varietal on the verge of extinction. Many consider him to be the father of this old white grape varietal which yields full bodied floral & aromatic wines that are winning awards at prestigious international wine competitions. The most recent one was at Mundus Vini Spring Tasting 2016 where Ktima Gerovassiliou Malagousia 2015 won the award for “Best Greek White Wine of the Show”.
Vangelis proudly mentioned that they also got Three Gold Medals for the estate wines from Berliner Wein Trophy 2016 including one for Malagousia 2015. His privately owned single-vineyard estate, Ktima Gerovassiliou, has been included among the Top 100 Wineries by Wine Enthusiast Magazine & has won “Winery of the Year” award by Wine & Spirits Magazine USA several times.
Wait there is more. His estate winery located in Epanomi, 25 kms to the south of Thessaloniki in Macedonia, has a Wine Museum which houses a collection of over 3000 wine openers and corkscrews, the largest private collection in the world. This includes some rare & unique pieces dating back to the 18th century. He proudly showed me a photograph of the display.
By this time I was sufficiently impressed and was curious to know about his journey into the world of wine. Vangelis Gerovassiliou told me he knew very early in life that he wanted to become a vintner. He graduated in Oenology from Bordeaux University where he worked closely with the “guru of oenology” eminent professor Emile Peynaud. On his return to Greece he began working as an oenologist at the famous Greek estate Domaine Porto Carras, till he decided to start his own winery in his home town of Epanomi, where viticulture had been abandoned due to phylloxera.
Domaine Gerovassiliou, which started in 1981 with a 2 hectare plot, has now expanded to over 60 hectares and is among the most beautiful estates in Greece. The pictures that he showed me took my breath away. While the winery is modern they use some traditional methods of winemaking such as fermentation using ambient yeast and reduced sulphur additions.
I wanted to know more about his wines and Vangelis informed me that the white wines from his estate are Malagousia, Sauvignon Blanc Fumé, Chardonnay and Viognier while the reds include Avaton, Evangelo, Syrah and Malagousia from overripe grapes. All these reflect the terroir of Epanomi. 35% of Ktima’s production is exported to USA, Canada, Japan, Brazil, Australia, Singapore and several European countries.
About the award winning single vineyard white Malagousia, Vangelis Gerovassilio explained that it is a partially barrel fermented wine which is left to mature on its lees for a few months to gain depth of flavor. The result is a heavily perfumed floral fruity wine with oaky undertones. He was kind enough to present me a bottle of the 2015 vintage which I have not yet opened.
It was indeed an honor to meet a winemaker like Vangelis Gerovassiliou, who is capitalizing on the potential of native grapes and whose high quality wines are instrumental in improving the image of Greek wines in the world.
By : Lavina Kharkwal
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