The Tetramythos vineyards lie on steep slopes of Mount Helmos, on the most southern tip of Greece's mainland. When I last visited, in April, the soil was covered with alpine grass and wild flowers, a visible result of the organic farming that is meticulously applied. Standing amidst Greece’s highest vineyards at an altitude of nearly 3500 feet -- with a view of the open sea at the end of the deep valley -- is an unforgettable experience. Mount Helmos reaches up to 7700 feet and is home to a popular ski resort. It also hosts some of the finest terroirs in the world. The soil structure varies, but it's mostly made up of limestone and clay. The mountain is covered with pine forest; in the higher parts, lush, dark green grass grows thickly. Mount Helmos belongs to the area of Aegiala, which is the most important region for organic farming in Greece.

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Tetramythos is one of the finest wineries in that area. Today, it features 14 Ha of land and has an annual production of about 60,000 bottles. It was officially founded in 1999, although the owners have been involved in growing grapes for many years before. In fact, their vineyards have been officially certified as organic since 1997. The grapes were sold to other wine growers in the area. Then the owners teamed up with the young and extremely talented oenologist Panagiotis Papagiannopoulos, who has been running the day-to-day operations ever since.
In 2004 the establishment of a winery featuring ultra-modern technology, a wine bar, and a small hotel was complete. More than 10,000 tourists visited during the first year. The vineyard holdings steadily increased, and the outlook was bright.
Then, during the summer of 2007 Greece was raged by a number of wildfires. On July 20, the fire broke away from the mountains over the town of Agio and expanded rapidly. Aegiala was in flames, and finally after 6 days the fire seemed to be under control. On the evening of July 26, the fire fighters told the Tetramythos owners that there was no danger anymore. They stopped their guard shortly afterwards.
The next morning Panagiotis drove to the winery to find only ruins. The fire had re-ignited overnight and had burned everything in its way. The building, all high tech equipment, barrels, and bottles had been destroyed. There was nothing left to be saved. Some of the vineyards located a few miles away from the winery were also exposed to the fires.
In the following weeks, many renowned wine estates expressed their solidarity to Tetramythos and offered their help. Some of the high placed vineyards had escaped the fire, and it was only thanks to them that the harvest actually managed to reach roughly half the yearly average. The grapes were processed at other wineries. The EU paid out reconstruction help for the region, and insurance paid for parts of the damages. By 2009, the winery had been completely rebuilt – but the partners had to shoulder a chunk of the costs themselves.
Now Tetramythos seems to be better positioned than ever before. The business has literally risen from the ashes, and this by itself is a remarkable achievement. Panagiotis and his partners have matured after the last trying years. What has remained unchanged is their love for the vineyards and their work.

The company owns its own fully-refrigerated truck. Apart from using this truck to distribute their wines during the summer months, it plays a key role during the harvest. The truck is driven to the vineyards, and the picked grapes are stored inside where the temperatures have been cooled down. That is attention to detail! I only wonder where the truck driver received his training – we drove up the steep tracks leading to the vineyards in a jeep, and that already felt quite adventurous. When the grapes arrive at the winery, 3 people sort out the leaves and any grapes that are only partially ripe. After de-stemming and light crushing, only the free run must is received - by natural gravity, no pumps are used.

Tetramythos currently grows indigenous and international grape varieties; the vineyards are located at different altitudes and are in many cases made up of several small plots of land. Over the last 10 years, only Greek varieties have been added.

The harvest typically starts in the last week of August with Merlot. The Cabernet Sauvignon that is planted at the lower altitude, as well as Sauvignon Blanc and Malagousia, are picked during September. Lastly, in October, the Roditis, Black of Kalavryta, and the Cabernet Sauvignon from the higher altitude are brought in. The Mavrodaphne and Muscat of Rio vines are expected to produce the first experimental sweet wines in the next year.

Most wines are released early, the Roditis at the end of December, the Malagousia and Sauvignon Blanc at the end of February, Black of Kalavryta and Agiorgitiko at the end of May. The exception is the Cabernet Sauvignon, which is aged in oak barrels and is released after 2 ½ to 3 years.

In addition, Tetramythos also produces two bag-in-box wines that are mostly sold to the local tavernas in the area. The white is a blend of 90% Roditis and 5% each of Malagousia and Sauvignon Blanc, the red a blend of 60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% each of Black of Kalavryta and Agiorgitiko. This is a great way of introducing visiting tourists to basic wines that are of high quality.

Tetramythos is one of those young Greek wineries that are at the forefront of the wine revolution that is continuing unabated in this country. In my view, their wines offer one of the best quality/price ratios. The wines of Aegiala deserve much more recognition, and I hope that the region will be soon awarded with its own quality wine appellation.

Roditis 2009, 12.2 %
The colour is pale silver with golden tinges. Intense aromas of exotic fruits and melon dominate the nose. It is quite densely structured; the melon coats the whole palate. Despite its richness, it comes across as very fresh, a surprisingly long finish eclipses the solid mid-palate.

Roditis Barrel 2008, 13%
This has a much deeper yellow golden colour. The melon aromas still make their way through, but the nose is also dominated by vanilla. The palate is rich, but less fresh than the unoaked version, although the acidity is clearly higher (2008 was a riper vintage than 2009). The mid-palate is bit one-dimensional, the finish more interesting. Nearly all of the production goes to one Greek customer.

Malagousia 2009, 13%
The colour is pale silver with green tinges. The aromas are very forthcoming, a fascinating cocktail of pears, peaches and green pepper. It is extremely fruit driven, quite full on the palate with lively acidity. This is a very fine example of Malagousia, the mid-palate is firm, the finish pure joy.

Milia 2009 Sauvignon Blanc 13.5%
The colour is medium deep straw. The nose is very open and concentrated with exotic fruits and a nice smokiness, also hints of butter. It is rich but very fresh on the palate with good acidity. This is what I love about Greek Sauvignon Blanc that is grown at high altitude – exotic flavours with a crisp freshness.

Agiorgitiko 2009, 13%
The colour is medium deep purple. On the nose there is a very intriguing fruit/vegetable combination in play. Lots of cherries are present, but at the same time beetroot and some earthiness come through. The wine is very smooth on the palate, with soft tannins, the mid-palate shines. The finish is long, and some dark chocolate mingles in the aftertaste.

Black of Kalavryta 2008, 13%
This is a local grape and the wine is best served in a Burgundy glass. The colour is medium purple. The nose has an interesting mix of cherries, green olives, also hints of black truffles and mushroom. The wine is smooth and medium bodied. The olives and truffles dominate the mid-palate, whereas the finish brings back the cherry component.

Milia 2008 Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Black of Kalavryta 13.8%
This has a very deep and rich purple colour. The nose shows dark forest fruits, chocolate, vanilla and some burned earth. It is quite an intriguing combination and the Black of Kalavryta works very well in this blend. The wine has a very elegant texture; the tannins are noticeable, but very soft. The fruit is explosive, the finish multi-dimensional. It is delicious to drink now, but will certainly improve over the next few years.

Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, 13%
The colour is a deep purple with violet tinges. The nose is full of black berries, wild herbs and tobacco. It is very full and round on the palate with packed soft tannins and matching acidity. It is an elegant wine, the finish is very long, and the aftertaste brings back the pure fruits.

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