Sommelier News – Roger Moris
I have seldom, if ever, used the word «magical» to describe a winery, but that is what came to mind when we arrived at Katsaros after a half-hour climb up a twisting, perilous, breath-taking road from the Gulf of Salonika, past the mountain village of Krania to the upper slopes of sprawling Mount Olympus, several miles southeast of Thessaloniki on the road to Athens.
There the Katsaros family has created an excellent modern winery perched on rocky slopes at an ele-vation of 750 meters (2,460 feet) above the sea – which is visible in the hazy distance from the Katsaros winery and home. In 1986, Dr. Dimitris Katsaros, a practicing physician who had been growing grapes on the mountain as a hobby, started a winery there. Gradually, he patched together about 9 hectares (23 acres) of vineyards in 21 small parcels scattered all over the mountain, consisting of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Three wines are made – Chardonnay, Merlot and a Cabernet-based Estate Red – all premium priced.
Now retired, Katsaros lives there with his wife Stella, an accomplished chef and cookbook author. His son, Evripidis, was educated as a biochemist, trained in Bordeaux and Burgundy, and now makes the wines, all from international varieties. However, some experimentation is be-ing done with native varietals. The organically grown grapes by necessity are tended and har-vested by hand. The Chardonnay is fermented in small barrels and is creamy with lots of mineral-ity. The Cabernet is especially impressive – big and complex with violets, chocolates and pencil lead. The Merlot is the opposite, very smooth and elegant, but not especially complex.
It is not surprising, given the wildness of the terrain, that Katsaros is the only winery within the appellation, sold under the label of Vin de Pays Krania Olympus.
Nectar of the Gods? Zeus juice? Let‘s not get carried away – but the wines of Macedonia are certainly ones that we mere mortals can af-ford and enjoy.
Roger Morris is Managing Editor of Somme-lier News and also regularly contributes to Robb Report, Saveur, Wine Enthusiast, Bev-erage Media and epicurious.com. He is also author of The Brandywine Book of Food, a book about regional culinary terroir.