From: Nemea, Greece
Taste: A delectable introduction to the Agiorgitiko grape, this red-purple wine has a fruit-forward, medium bodied palate, ripe with flavors of red cherry, pomegranate, nutmeg, and a hint of butterscotch. It is easy-going with smooth, soft tannins and a fruity finish.
Pairing: My mouth is watering just thinking about pairing Agiorgitiko with Kreatopita – Greek meat pies wrapped in buttered phyllo dough that gets crispy when baked. Ground beef, pork, and a bechamel sauce spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg make up the filling of kreatopita. Yum! The spice notes in the kreatopita and the wine will complement each other perfectly. Agiorgitiko is also a wonderful match for spanakopita, chicken biryani, tandoori chicken, Mediterranean style wine braised lamb shanks, or other dishes with earthy flavors and warm spices.
Nemea is home to the Agiorgitiko (aye-or-GHEE-tee-ko) grape and, just as Naoussa in the north is synonymous with Xinomavro, Nemea is closely associated with the powerful Agiorgitiko grape.
The origins of the Agiorgitiko variety are mysterious. It is generally believed to come from this area but the genetics are uncertain. Fittingly, there is just as much Greek legend as there is fact associated with the origins of this storied wine. The myth goes that the region was terrorized by the Nemean Lion, a beast that could not be slain by any mortal. Hercules, a demi-God born of Zeus and a mortal mother, was travelling in the area and took up the challenge to kill the lion. Ultimately he strangled the beast when he found that weapons would not harm it. To round out the legend (since wine often played a role in Greek myths), Hercules was reportedly drinking the local wine either before his battle with the lion or after.
Ever since, the wine has had the nickname the “Blood of Hercules”. In literal terms, the name translates to Saint George and so Christian lore plays a role as well. In any event, it is a wine with deep history and is believed to have been a favorite of King Agamemnon during the time of the Trojan War.
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