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Embrace the Dark Side...

I’ve never been a big fan of January & February no matter what country I lived in and Crete is no exception with its howling winds, wild rainstorms and decided lack of sunshine. One of the things I do like however is the change in the overall menu of the island. We’ve gone from light salads and fresh vegetables to heartier pitas, root vegetables, sausages and stifados (stews and ragouts). In other words, more comfort foods. It’s the same with wine. When you are sitting in front of your roaring fire and trying to keep warm, you want to sip a wine that will give you the same comforting glow as the foods you love. And this means a hearty, invigorating red to take the edge off the winter blues.

The focus must still be on fruit, but this time the darker the fruits the better. You want wines with blackberry, blueberry, plums and black cherries. We are talking here about certain world cultivars like Syrah, an intense Grenache, beefy Pinot Noirs, big Tempranillos or some New World Cabernets. But even more important is the style and location of the wine. Here in Crete the climatic conditions lend themselves to producing wines with warmth and generosity, the winemakers do all they can to extract the maximum fruit flavor and they do not smother the wine with too much oak. The local varieties of Kotsifali and Mandilari give additional depth and richness and add a whole host of secondary flavors like pepper, cloves, chocolate, licorice and tobacco — precisely the smells and flavors you associate with a country kitchen in winter. So get the fire going and crack open a great Cretan Red!

Wine Recommendations

Douloufakis Aspros Lagos (Cabernet Sauvignon)
Dafnes, Heraklion

Deep ruby red with a full, fruity nose with subtle oak accents and peppery notes. Full-bodied, rich long texture with soft tannins.

Strataridakis (Syrah-Kotsifali)
Kasteliana, Heraklion

Deep dark red, thick wine with fragrances of wood, dark red fruits with a background of butterscotch and chocolate. Ideal with game, red sauces and spicy cheeses.

Silva-Daskalakis (Mandilari-Kotsifali)
Siva, Heraklion

Made from two traditional local varieties, this wine is a purple color with red undertones and a rich body of oak with notes of tobacco and chocolate aroma. Good with spicy dishes.

 

 

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