META-Modern Shock and Awe

September 15, 2015
An unconventional wine from Pieria for savvy consumers and true oenophiles.

I have referred on many occasions to the impressive work being done in Pieria by Pavlos Argryopoulos and Andreas Pantos (seen here in the photo above, with their red wine Gymnos Vasilias) at their Pieria Eratini winery. The wines produced by the two oenologists are characterised by attitude and boldness and are generally quite intriguing. It is quite clear that these two men have something to say, which is why oenophiles eagerly await their latest proposals.

Their most recent creation goes by the name of “Meta” and is a wine unlike any other in Greece. To satisfy your curiosity, I shall tell you right from the outset that it is fantastic. Fantastic in the sense of wonderful and fantastic like something born of the imagination. “Magical” would perhaps be a better word, so intriguing is the interplay between wine and taster. A “Cirque du Soleil” wine, where nothing is what you imagine and expect, where one surprise follows the other and where the wine constantly entices you to taste it!

First of all, if you chill it, it becomes cloudy; but shortly after resting in the glass it regains its bright, attractive appearance, with a deep, burnt orange colour that promises a pleasurable tasting adventure. The seduction continues on the nose, where countless aromas of fresh fruit and raisin intermingle with amazing floral notes, against a faint background of dried fruits and sandalwood. “What is this?” you wonder, certain that the first sip will confirm your suspicions that you are holding a very special sweet wine of Greece.

And when the moment comes to try it: Shock and Awe.

Not only is it not sweet, the rascal is completely dry! And when I say “dry”, I mean as if someone has pulled out your tongue and scraped it with a barber’s razor dry. Fruity and astringent at the same time, tannins, a velvety and comforting sensation from the robust – yet entirely manageable – alcohol level, big and deep aromas... this is the profile of META, which you taste and taste again to see what you might have missed (and you will miss plenty). Before you know it, the small 50 cl. bottle is empty. (It gave me the greatest enjoyment when I paired it with a dish of pasta with gorgonzola and walnut sauce).

Yes, this wine is not for everyone (even though it is a Malagousia!), not because it’s “difficult” (nonsense!) but because whatever it manages to achieve, it does so on account of its (controlled) oxidative maturation, which we have repeatedly warned consumers about. But don’t get me wrong: META is as similar to those awful, oxidised products of village wine-making as a thoroughbred horse is to draft mules. The oxidation here is refined, closely controlled, aristocratic. It is a pole vault mark of 6.16 metres, the first abstract painting of Jackson Pollock. In the hands of a less competent winemaker, we would be talking about the kind of wine you normally find in a fish taverna, but here we have a wine fit for Spondi.

At the end of the day, it is a wine that will have as many enemies as it does friends!

As its creators point out, it represents the culmination of three years of efforts in the vineyard and at the winery. They used cultivation techniques aimed at maximising the concentration of substances in the grapes, while the (white) Malagousia was vinified as if it were a red variety, prior to the wine being exposed to extreme conditions of oxidative maturation in glass demijohns for two years.

“Both viniculturally and oenologically, we have pushed Malagousia beyond its normal limits to do battle with wine’s most ruthless enemy, oxidation,” say Pavlos Argyropoulos and Andreas Pantos. I can only hope that their boldness is emulated by other Greek winemakers.  

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