A Cretan Cabernet Sauvignon
A few years ago, one evening at a restaurant in Heraklion, Crete, I had a Cabernet Sauvignon blend. It was made by a young winemaker from Crete by the name of Leftheris Digenakis. That wine made me do a double take. It was plush, full bodied with grip and tannin, a peppery finish and acidity to hold it all together. It was the Nympheos by Digenakis Winery.
Mind you, that the wines of Crete are not foreign to me. That evening my focus was on trying out more of the indigenous grape varieties of Crete. We had begun the evening with Leftheris’ version of Vidiano, the Bios Protos.
Fast forward a few years, another visit to Crete and this time we went to visit Leftheris at his winery. The winery sits a stone’s throw from Heraklion and a shortish drive from Knossos.
We therefore decided to spend our morning exploring the ancient ruins of Knossos.
Knossos is an ancient Minoan civilization that dates back to 3000 BC! Wandering through these ruins, one marvels at the degree of sophistication this culture had with respect to buildings , economical and social structures.
Most importantly and relevant to us, they even made wine and had the ability to transport it. Crete was probably the first place in Western Europe to cultivate vitis vinifera.
The giant clay amphoras that were used in the storage and transportation of wine, leads us to believe that the ancient Minoans consumed quite a bit of wine.
I think, we would have gotten along famously with them!
From Knossos, the village of Kalloni is a short and scenic drive. There are vineyards spread out on both sides of the highway.
The newly built Digenakis Winery is easily visible and is a must stop if you are in these parts and looking to pause and taste some wines.
The view of the Cretan countryside from within the winery is breathtaking.
One of the walls of the tasting room expresses Leftheris’ sentiment about the place that wine holds in his world. “Make wines…” it said, ” not war.”
This is a winery that excels at making wines from indigenous varieties such as Kotsifali and Vidiano as well as from Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah. Leftheris’ approach to winemaking mirrors how the winery is built. A view that looks upon the wealth of grapes in Crete, but at the same time looking at the art inwards.
He does not always take the safe path where wines are concerned and often this yields delicious surprises.
Next, the wines of Digenakis Winery that surprised us.