As the largest in size appellation planted to one grape, Nemea has much going for it: Proximity to Athens, the nation’s largest single market. A countryside reminiscent of Umbria or Southern Tuscany. No wonder it is a hot destination for wine exploring weekends. The town of Nemea itself is not attractive, a fact made all the more apparent by its pretty location on the foothills of Mount Profitis Ilias, studded with a diverse maquis, olive groves, conifers. Imposing, above the town is the old school with its neoclassical facade. It was to this school that Kostas Mitravelas went. This soft spoken 30 something is the fourth generation Nemea merchant of bulk wine. Without much fanfare, in 2004, he started to bottle some of his best batches. Having tasted yearly with him, I have made him one of my Nemea templates. If only other Nemea producers paid such attention to his vineyard appraisal and blending discipline. Assisted by 20 something oenologist Gregory Vrettos, and with much hard work, they have quickly risen to one of Nemea’s top addresses. Sensibly, with the current crisis, they are concentrating on two labels only. The other being the Mitravelas Estate, a cask fermented, dense, more expensive wine. It is good; different to many that have come my way. There will be a future posting. Meantime, the estate’s trump card remains the Red on Black(Kokkino se Mavro).
It is a blend of +20 year old, mostly bush vines. The colour is deep, of blue-purple rim. A burst of fruit, with the black cherries of Aghiorghitiko leaping out of the glass. It has good structure. Richly flavoured, with freshness keeping it interesting all through the finish. Polished. Retailing in Greece at Euro 6 per bottle, this ‘rule breaker’ (slightly chilled) soft fruity red wine is a cracker. You will not find so much bang for your money elsewhere from this in vogue appellation.