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Greek wine profile: George Skouras of Argolida, Greece
Greek wine maker George Skouras of Argolida, Peloponessos, Greece
Winery of Greek wine maker George Skouras of Argolida, Peloponessos, Greece
has been a key figure in the new Greek wine industry since the mid-1980s.
A graduate of Dijon, Skouras
returned from his
studies to head winemaking for the initial vintages of Gentilini, the groundbreaking label of Kefalonian Nicholas Cosmetatos.
Intent on capitalizing on the new opportunities Greece presented for quality negociant wines, Skouras set up shop in Pyryela, Argoloda, near (near Nemea) in 1986, producing a mere 6,000 bottles during his
Having recently built a second winery and planted his
own vineyards in Gymno, Nemea
, annual production has reached more than 700,000 bottles.
is now a major player both as negociant and as a producer of his
In the meantime he
established himself as a leading figure in the revitalization of the Nemea
region and one of the most accomplished hands with the region's chief and increasingly internationally respected variety, Agiorgitiko.
A high profile participant in the evolution of the industry to its present state, Skouras
has adopted a leadership role as well.
He is currently Vice President of the Greek Wine Federation and a passionate and vocal spokesman for Greek winemaking in general.
is a commanding presence, warm, but authoritative, a man whose philosophical view of his
profession is expressed with as much confidence and detail as his
At the beginning of his
worked primarily with indigenous cultivars.
sights increasingly on exports, the role of Western varieties began to increase as well.
The existence of Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet and Viognier in his
portfolio are not, however, gratuitous.
It is true, he
says, "cosmopolitan varieties are a passport for Greek wine
has emerged as one of Greece's best-known producers.
seems to have learned lessons during his
incursions into foreign markets.
What has been described in the past as his
oak-for-oak's-sake approach has been mostly abandoned in favor of a more aesthetic approach.
With the party just beginning, Skouras
still has many cards to play.
does well within hot climate limitations.
The intense heat of the region brings out the tropical side of Chardonnay, in aroma and on the palate.
Skouras' version is a positive example, although the lingering bitterness of oak casts a slight pall over its otherwise playful fruitiness.
Vineyard of Greek wine maker George Skouras of Argolida, Peloponessos, Greece
Agirogitiko vine of Greek wine maker George Skouras of Argolida, Peloponessos, Greece
has a way with oak.
There is some on the nose, but on the palate plummy fruit dominates.
A little raw tannin emerges at the finish.
Hints at valley vineyards, a great example of the good low altitude Agiorgitiko style.
Megas Oenos Red 1998
This is the wine for which Skouras
is best known.
A blend of old vine Agiorgitiko and Cabernet, this is an elegant, mature wine with plenty of blue Cabernet tints, cherry confit and subtle smoke.
Oak, again, is put quietly to good use.
The wine has a modern, universal feel; plenty of power tastefully presented.
has spread his
wings, steadily but surely conquering Greek America.
With one foot in the premium category and another in the mid-priced sector, he is in a good position to enter the mainstream.
Label aesthetics and halfhearted marketing seem to be the two main impediments to wider success.
The more subtle use of oak is an important step largely taken already.
has the products and resources required to help lead Greek wine into widespread acceptance.
With someone like George ...
With someone like George Skouras, a man who has been such a prominent force in the Greek wine industry, it's hard to imagine him as a young twenty-something, crushing his first vintage of wine.
Especially because 27 years ago, few would have predicted that
there would be a thriving Greek wine industry in 2011.
But thanks, in part, to the efforts of Skouras and several other pioneering winemakers, the foundations that were laid in the early 1980s have led to a thriving and dynamic industry that is making excellent wine.
Skouras went on to study at the University of Dijon, getting a degree in viticulture and enology, and getting the opportunity to work in the vineyards of Burgundy, Bordeaux , Champagne, Beaujolais and more.
returned to Greece in 1982 to work for Nicholas Cosmetatos at his winery Gentilini, a pioneering effort that many consider the beginning of the modern winemaking movement in Greece.
didn't know it at the time, but that first vintage was also the first time that anyone had ever blended the native Agiorgitiko (pronounced eye-your-YEE-tih-koh) grape with Cabernet.
A decision, Skouras
says, that was really based in a lack of faith in Agiorgitiko: "I wasn't sure of the longevity of Agiorgitiko, so I added Cabernet sort of as a warranty -
for some cellaring potential."
Now, such blends are common, but at the time, most of the international grape varieties and the indigenous varieties were kept and made separately.
had made his
first wine, then he
had to sell it.
Within a few years, Skouras
skills as a marketer as fast as he
had matured his
skills as a winemaker, holding press conferences and setting up tastings for members of the press.
Like several other French trained winemakers who all returned to Greece to make wine at around the same time, Skouras
rapidly rose to prominence and acclaim.
now consists of 80 acres of vineyards, many of them older vineyard sites that Skouras purchased near his
home town in Malandreni, where his
flagship winery sits, about an hour and a half from Athens.
This was his
second winery, however, as his
first venture was a small winery in Gymno in the Nemea region, the area of the Peloponnese peninsula synonymous with the grape Agiorgitiko.
The winery produces northwards of 50,000 cases of wine a year, across a wide range of bottlings, some of which are as small as a few thousand bottles.
While Skouras is actively involved in the day-to-day operations, he now has a winery team of very competent individuals that handle most of the production, giving him time to represent both the winery and the Greek wine industry as a whole (Skouras was Vice President of the Greek Wine Federation for some time).
After nearly 30 years in the vineyards and cellar, Skouras
shows very little sign of slowing down.
Near Argos, George Skouras ...
Near Argos, George Skouras opened Domaine Skouras, a state-of-the-art winery and visitors' center in 2004.
The charismatic Greek wine ambassador believes that "small details make a difference," and the proof is in the aromas and freshness of his white wines. (the partially oak-aged Viognier Cuvée Larsinos is stunning)
But George Skouras
, who has a well-cultivated view of the global wine market, cautions about introducing too many unfamiliar wines too quickly: "We don't have all the respect yet.
Moscofilero is a highly aromatic white ...
Moscofilero is a highly aromatic white varietal of Greek origin grown primarily in George Skouras' homeland of the Peloponnese, and increasingly in the rest of the country.
is a big, gregarious personality with a charming twinkle in his
is also one of the most important figures in the Greek wine industry who led the charge to improve the overall quality of Greek wines and to help market them on the global stage.
grew up in the Peloponnese town of Argos that has a rich history of wine and culture dating back 3,000 years.
He knew if he wanted to make truly good wine he would have to travel to the source and learn from the masters in Burgundy, France, so he left in 1980 to study Agriculture at the University of Dijon.
After graduating with a degree in Enology, George set off to apprentice at several wineries in France, Italy and back home in Greece, where he started making wine in his father's garage.
He founded Domaine Skouras in 1986 in a small winery outside of Argos and has expanded over the years to become one of the top wineries in all of Greece, famous for its outstanding Megas Oenos, his stately Aghiorghitiko and Cabernet Sauvignon blend, and his deliciously aromatic Moscofilero.
admin's blog | WimbledonWineCellar
Speaking to The Drinks Business recently, George Skouras, founder of Domaine Skouras and the godfather of quality wine production in Greece, said he thought that Greek wines were now "very competitive", but that the next step was to produce an "icon wine", in order further to build the country's reputation.