It was a cloudy Saturday morning. Driving less than half an hour from the center of Athens, I arrived at the Papagiannakos Winery. Located very close to Athens International Airport, among the vines on the old site of a former monastery at Poussi Kalogeri in Markopoulo.
Although I was sleepless – because of my tough Friday night’s shift behind the bar – I suddenly woke up when I stepped on this blessed piece of the earth. I could discern the blue sea embracing this land, but at the same time I was feeling a strange warmth. This was the site on which the Papagiannakos winery is situated. The first winery especially designed and built in Greece according to innovative bio-climatic standards.
I walked into the winery. I received a smile. I met the man, the holdover of Papagiannakos tradition. He shared with me his passion, his love about the grapes, his vision. My trip to the past had just started, but all the equipment was coming from the future.
I was guided to the vineyard, where native and foreign grape varieties coexist. The white grape varieties of Savvatiano, Malagouzia and Roditis prevail. These varieties flourish in Attica’s environment capturing 80% of todays vineyards. However, red varieties Agiorgitiko and Merlot are also cultivated there, producing several of Greece’s great wines. The terroir is a combination of clay, sand and gravel which allows rainwater to drain well and the air to interfere with the soil. A few minutes later I was inside the crashing machines and the 19 huge stainless steel tanks where the fermentation happens. I imagined the yeast eating all the juicy sugars but then I heard the sounds of the bottles that were filled with Savvatiano Wine. I touched the velvet wood of the barrels, where Merlot and Cabernet wines were resting. I left the cellar of Papagiannakos behind me and I felt the lovingly heavy scent of oxidation.
It was a cloudy Saturday morning, but it looked so amazingly bright…