Of the many small, remote wineries we work with, Doric is in a league of its own. A tiny, itty bitty league of its own… The way to the miniscule village of Koniakos winds up a remote mountain near historic Delphi, up perilously steep hills, on narrow, winding roads shrouded in mist. The slow journey is frequently barred by whole herds of goats; the only real traffic seen on those mountain ways. At a mere 800 meters above sea level, the village of Koniakos, surrounded by fir forests. Populated almost entirely by a diminishing crowd of geriatrics, half the town is empty and the experience would feel like time travel if the locals weren’t so aged.
The trek is more than worth it to encounter a truly singular, fading wine tradition maintained single handedly by Giorgos Balatsouras. His raggedy, 0.85 hectare vineyard is supplemented by individual vines climbing up trees, hanging from an arbor over his front door and otherwise embedded into the crumbling infrastructure. The wines are made in a truly esoteric fashion with macerations in primitive open top, wood fermenters under a lattice of fir branches and thyme. Vinified entirely without additions, our expectation was that these would be aggressive resin bombs (like brutish, zero sulfite retsina), but the truth was quite different. The wines feel truly distant from the modern world, artifacts of a bygone era that are completely transportative and earnest.
Mostly made from ever-present Roditis with a dash of Malagousia, the Amber gets a much shorter maceration than the reds with only 5 days on skins. Despite the shorter length of skin contact, the purer juice does a wonderful job of showcasing the influence of the fir resin upon the wine.
Kosmas, Kosmadia or Gousmadia as they call it in Koniokos, is an heirloom red variety of the mountainous Phocis region. The variety was saved and submitted to the Greek authorities for preservation by Giorgos himself. 15 day macerations with fir branches produces an inky wine with an almost Loire-like rusticity with that herbaceous, sappy influence seamlessly integrated.