The Vigneview Verdict
A few weekends ago, my husband was out and about in Muswell Hill shopping when he phoned asking if I had any wine preferences for dinner. After a bit of a think, I asked him to find an interesting Greek wine. Well, this was definitely a ‘mission accomplished’!! He came home with a bottle of Artemis Karamolegos 2018 Mavrotragano from the island of Santorini. Not having heard of this grape, I set out to explore and understand more about Mavrotragano.
This almost extinct grape variety, native to Santorini, translates from mavro meaning ‘black’ and tragano meaning ‘crisp’ after its clusters filled with small, black crisp, thick-skinned berries. The thick skin forms on the berries as a result of the intense winds on the island, which is a common occurrence when grapes are grown under such weather conditions. Unlike the ‘kouloura’ or basket-trained Assyrtiko grapes grown on the island, Mavrotragano grapes are trained in the double guyot style with two cordons.
Mavrotragano was originally blended with other varieties on the island to create sweet wines. Today, winemakers on Santorini are redefining Mavrotragano’s role as an elegant, single varietal wine. Apparently, it was close to extinction on the island due to land development. As a result, grape growers had to search vine by vine throughou Santorini for Mavrotragano vines in order to propagate them. This is definitely not an easy task!
Mavrotragano is often compared to Nebbiolo. As someone who loves Nebbiolo wines and has visited the Piedmont region a few times, I was eager to decide for myself how this bottle of Artemis Karamolegos 2018 Mavrotragano measured up. Nebbiolo benefits from a good decanting and I decided to do the same with the Mavrotragano. After an hour or so, an impressive bouquet of black cherries, roses, subtle white pepper and smokey notes lured me in. Further fruit flavours of pomegranate and red plum followed by liquorice and a sweet earthiness enhanced the whole experience, along with well-structured, smooth tannins and a lingering finish. Matured in oak barrels with varying degrees of usage for a total of 24 months, I found this wine to be expressive, yet not overpowering. Each sip led to further discoveries of hidden aromas and flavours.
Compared to Nebbiolo, Mavrotragano is a bit more subdued and probably not as age-worthy, with lower acidity and alcohol levels as well as less powerful tannins. However, I believe that Mavrotragano is definitely an elegant wine, filled with complexities as well as an impressive history.
I would pair this bottle of Artemis Karamolegos 2018 Mavrotragano with a smokey chicken dish, such as my beer can chicken recipe or my marinated rack of lamb recipe. Both dishes are filled with fresh, earthy flavours that don’t overwhelm the wine, yet perfectly complement and showcase its complexities.
Producer: Mavrotragano from Artemis Karamolegos
Region: Santorini (PGI Cyclades)
Colour: Medium Ruby Red
Floral: Fresh roses
Black fruits: Black cherry,
Red fruits: Pomegranate and red plum
Oak: smokey toasted notes
Other: Liquorice, subtle hints of white pepper and salinity on the palate
Drinking Window: Drink now until 2026
Price: £46.50 (Amathus Drinks)