Moschofilero, Football, and Friends in Nemea

20140615-073632-27392108.jpgI arrived in Greece a few hours ago. In the last few hours, I have traveled from Athens to the Peloponnese, had an incredible lunch, and a walk through a vineyard. Now I’m watching the World Cup, trying two white wines before we kick off the #NemeaWineTour2014 in the morning. Both wines are made from the Moschofilero grape … something I have never tried before.

Moschofilero is as aromatic grape wine that features floral and fruity aromas and flavors (rose, white peach, and herbs spices). It’s the kind of wine you want to drink with some fresh seafood if you get the two into the same room together. Otherwise, you can certainly drink it as an aperitif, on a terrace overlooking the Nemea Valley (or wherever you might be).

Seméli Winery overlooks the Nemea Valley. Photo courtesy of the winery.

Seméli Winery overlooks the Nemea Valley.
Photo courtesy of the winery.

The Moschofilero variety is a pigmented (pale red when fully ripened), so many of the wines that are made with Moschofilero are pressed gently and the juice is separated from the skins before any pigmentation can color the juice. In each glass, I find a spectrum of aromas, flavors, and textural elements similar to wines like muscat, torrontes, viognier, or grenache blanc.

What I find intriguing about the two wines I’m tasting (in photo above) is that while both wines are made by Seméli Wines in Nemea the two wines are distinctly different from one other.

The reasons they are different could be tallied, quantified mathematically, evaluated in a laboratory, etc, but what does that do for our understanding of how enjoyable each wine is … Nada, niente, zip, zero.

However, being able to read a wine bottle, not just the wine label, can be immensely helpful in judging what we could be buying or why we might be tasting what we are tasting.

Taking these two wines at face value, one is from the 2012 vintage while the other is one year younger. One wine was sealed under screwcap, with saranex, while the other was sealed with a synthetic cork. One wine is a blend of different vineyards, the other is from a specific appellation (Mantinia).

Winemaking is a serious business and knowing how and why to present these two wines the way they are presented can be the difference between a win or a loss. By all accounts and measures, the Semèli wines have been well-cared for/crafted with the intention that consumers enjoy the wine when fresh and vibrant.

To that end, nothing about the wines has anything to do with the World Cup match that my colleagues and I are watching on the tele. My attention is drifting between the sunset, the smell of flowers beyond the terrace, the incredible view of the Nemea valley below, the laughter of friends in the room, and then then back to the wine.

I could tell you that I love the 2013 Mantinia, that even though I do not know the Moschofilero variety intimately (our #NemeaWineTour2014 begins tomorrow) there is a cleanliness about the fruit in the aromas which translate well to the palate. It is a wine that I find attractive, even sexy.

The 2012 Orinos Helios (Mountain Sun White) is a blend of Rhoditis and Moschofilero, and shows more structure but less aromatics than the Mantinia. It is a more substantial wine, something I would rather enjoy with some food.

But I’m not interested in tearing these wines apart and putting them back together again. I can do that tomorrow, when the #NemeaWineTour2014 begins and my colleagues and I are led into world of wine that some of us have never had the pleasure of knowing. For now, I’m having too much fun sipping these beautiful wines and watching the match.

One of the best parts of being a wine/food/travel writer is the intimate experiences that come with diving into a region like Nemea for several days or weeks. However, after the knowledge sinks in, I don’t want to have to think about a wine, I want to drink it because it’s made well.

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