Vassilis Papagiannakos is a gregarious man. Energetic and passionate he clearly loves his job. Earlier this year I found myself I standing outside Markopoulo train station looking out for this man who I’d never met, merely armed with the brief description he had given me the day before.
Once we found each other, Vassilis took the opportunity to show off his vineyards on the way to the winery, weaving through the arid but gentle hills past olive, pistachio & fig trees to unveil predominantly bush trained Savatiano vines. Plus a number of parcels of Malagouzia which he began planting in 2004. Below the surface is a very porous soil; ranging in colour form white to red and consisting of clay, limestone and gravel. Rainwater drains well here and feeds many of the underground streams in the area. The climate is typically Mediterranean with an average yearly temperature of 18 degrees C.
Savatiano is thought to have originated in Attica and continues to be one of the most planted varieties not only here, but all over Greece. Its resistance to drought, late ripening and traditional use in Retsina has encouraged farmers to plant it all over the country. In turn it has suffered an image problem as the commodification of this variety has seen many bland and boring examples cross the dining room table. The Papagiannakos family saw more in Savatiano and have been championing it’s quality status since the wineries inception in 1919. One could say that the recent modification of their winery and expansion in family vineyards at time when the urban sprawl of Athens is driving the land price up , are all investments based on their solid belief in Savatiano.
The first release of Malagouzia [aka Malagousia] was the 2009 vintage which showed huge potential for this variety in the area. The following year they expanded the plantings of Malagouzia to 20 Acres. .