Samian Muscat Wine, Greece: The wine of Samos was famous since the ancient times for its sweet taste. It was frequently referred in many ancient myths and the wine of Samos was exported all around the Mediterranean Sea.
History of Samian Wine
After the ancient times, the first mention of Samian wine comes in the 12th century. A monk named Theodurus wrote in a poem: they drink sweet wine from Crete and from Samos. He did not mention if the wine came from Muscat vines. It is true that sweet wine can come from other vine varieties as well. The Samian Muscat originally came from Asia Minor. It was brought to Samos at the end of the 16th century.
Samian Muscat became well known after phylloxera destroyed many European vineyards. With their vineyards destroyed, French and Italian winemakers had to look for alternatives in eastern Europe and one of the those alternatives turned out to be Samian Muscat wine. As everybody wanted the Samian wine, the price increased. It also enlarged the vineyards in Samos greatly. The plottage increased to 4,700 square meters of land.
French enologists brought the most modern equipment to Samos in order to produce sweet wines from grapes that they bought from the winegrowers. These French enologists were the first ones to practice the method of stopping the fermentation of must by adding alcohol. The Union of Cooperatives of Samos continues to use this method even today. Samian Muscat wine became famous enough to start winning awards. It received medals from exhibitions that were held in 1862 in London and in 1867 in Paris. It wins awards even today.
The phylloxera problem did affect how Samians grew their grapes. This problem was solved by Aristotle Mantafunis, a Hegemony supervisor of Agriculture and Forestry. He knew that phylloxera would eventually strike the grapes of Samos. He solved the problem by transplanting vines that came from America and France. Otherwise, Samos would have faced the same problem as the rest of Europe.
The Samian Wine Cooperative
The exploitation of winegrowers by merchants led to the creation of The Union of Cooperatives of Samos in 1934. This cooperative feels that it is a guardian of the famous Muscat wine tradition. Today, the cooperative is made up of 25 sub-cooperatives. 4,000 members are part of this organization. On an annual basis, the cooperative usually produces around seven million liters or 9000 tons of wine.
On the island of Samos, you will find the bulk of the vineyard area in the west, north and central parts of the island. Most of the vines are planted on terraces. The water for these vines comes from springs. The gathering of Muscat grapes begins in August and continues up to October. Just before and during the harvest, the cooperative wine expert team carefully evaluates its members vineyards. The final evaluation of this team takes place at the winery in Vathi and another winery in Karlovasi. The cooperative tries to extract many varieties from its single Muscat component. This extraction results in different wines.
Varieties of Samian Muscat Wine
Samos Vin Doux
One Samian Muscat wine that the cooperative makes is Samos Vin Doux. It comes from the grapes in the semi-mountainous zones of Samos. It is fortified by 15 percent. It is considered to be a simple, classic dessert Muscat. Critics consider its flavors to be clean, without bitterness and accompanied by unmitigated musky aromas typical of the variety. It has less acidity than other Samian products. Some people are of the opinion that this wine is one of the best of its kind in its price range in the world.
Another Samian Muscat wine from the cooperative is called Samos. It comes from Samian vineyards that are at high elevations. These vineyards also have low yields. Some critics believe that this wine gives you a clear picture of the essential effects of grape quality and are an advertisement for Samos as a wine region generally. The wine is gold in color. This wine has solid acidity and intense, fruit flavors. In France, Samos wine is considered to be a highly regarded dessert wine.
Samos Anthemis is another popular Samos Muskat wine variety. The meaning of Anthemis is defined in the book called The Wines of Greece and it goes something like this: Apparently known to Guerin, this sort of wine was referred to by him as anthosmie, the Gallicized rendering of the Greek anthosmia, or flower smell (bouquet). The term, rather than the particular type of wine, dates back to the ancient Greeks, who applied it to the smell of sound older wines, and also had a wine which they produced by a particular technique and called anthosmias. EOSS [the Samos Cooperative] has in this case altered the name for marketing purposes, while otherwise leaving the tradition of Samian anthosmia intact.
Like the Vin Doux, this wine comes from grapes that were grown at semi-mountainous vineyards. The wine is aged in oaken casks for a period of 5 years. The aging process creates an amber color that is called chestnut blonde on the bottle. During the aging process, flavors like butterscotch, toffee, herbed honey and light molasses are also blended in. It does also have a fruity flavor. It is this flavor complexity and long finish that nicely softens the impact of the wine's strength.
The cooperative makes a wine called Samos Nectar. For this wine, they select certain bunches of grapes and dry them in the sun. These sun-dried grapes are turned into wine and then aged for three years in oaken casks. This wine is regarded as an interesting and soft contrast to the cooperative's other sweet wines. The aromas are supposed to be intense. The color of this wine is described as sort of cafe with ochre highlights. It is pleasant to roll this wine slowly around the mouth. The alcohol level of this wine is a little below other Samian dessert wines.
Also read the: Interview of the Union of Vinicultural Cooperatives of Samos to Greeka.com