We take you through the vineyards around the Mediterranean basin, presenting you an ever increasing selection of bio wines, reflecting the variety and amazing richness of Southern Europe’s wine culture and terroir.Wine was produced since Phoenician times and has been part of social live of Western Civilization ever since. As Thucydides, a Greek historian living from 460 BC to 395 BC, stated, “the peoples of the Mediterranean began to emerge from barbarism when they learned to cultivate the olive and the vine”.
When the Romans conquered PORTUGAL, they discovered a natural treasure in all senses. Julius Caesar found access to the various gold mines that lied openly alongside the river Douro in the North, the river’s water himself glittering of gold in the sun. The findings financed Caesar’s political career back in Rome, and gold, meaning ‘de ouro’, gave the region its name. Lusitania was from thereon a cherished place for Roman immigration, from retired military people that got to know the land during their military service, to big scale farmers, some of them wealthy, retired Senators. From Portugal’s North to the South, Romans lived and developed the land and integrated it commercially into their Mediterranean empire as Lusitania was not only fertile and naturally beautiful, but had a very moderate and healthy climate. Growing grapes was the most natural thing for them, part of the basics of the Roman lifestyle. There were many indigenous grape varietals around, and winemaking remained anchored in Portugal’s way of life ever since. A journey through Portugal’s vineyards is an experience for epicureans, a trip characterized by the beauty of a land, that lets the visitor discover naturally reminiscences of a rich and interesting past.
In the DOURO region, a land of extremes oscillating between canicular hot summers and bone-chilling cold winters, vines grow deeply their roots in search of scarce water in the poor soil and between broken slabs of schistous rocks. Several indigenous varietals are the base of Port, which is a wine of blends. The Douro vintners’ artistry starts in the vineyard, with the decision to determine the best combination of grape varietal, soil, location and microclimate for each piece of vineyard.
MINHO is the most Northern region of Portugal with frequent cool rains that come off the Atlantic Ocean. Portugal’s greenest region represents also the country’s biggest DOC wine region. Its wine, Vinho Verde, mostly white, is distinguished by high acidity, is light, crispy aromatic, fruity and floral, and often with a light prickling pétillance. Vinho Verde, meaning ‘Green Wine’, is an allusion to being young wine made out of early, not completely ripened grapes. Whether made as blends or single variety wines, main grape varietals used are Alvarinho and Loureiro.
DOC LISBOA (Estremadura), a vast hilly region of multiple terroirs under Atlantic influence and several distinct microclimates and soils. With temperatures quite moderate the whole year round, strong Atlantic winds during the summer, especially in the coastal areas, are responsible for quite some day-night differences resulting in wines nicely fresh and good acidity.
The ALENTEJO is famous for having this impressive link to the Roman presence, the surviving of the ‘Talha’ or ‘Amphora’, the big clay pots, in which the Romans let ferment naturally their wine. Present everywhere in today’s Alentejo, ‘Vinho de Talha’ continues to represent living heritage since two thousand years.
ANDALUCIA, one of the most civilized and wealthiest areas of the Roman Empire. Between the 2nd century BC and the 5th century AD, ‘Acinipo’ or ‘Ronda La Vieja’, placed in the mountains between Sevilla and the Costa del Sol, was a place famous for wine. Today again, vineyards cover the gently undulating hills and slopes where the Atlantic breeze crosses Mediterranean winds creating a special microclimate favorable for the vines. There is a very special wine region lying in the triangular between the cities of Jerez de la Frontera, El Puerto de Santa María and Sanlúcar de Barrameda, created by the microclimate here in place. It is the Poniente, the cool and humid wind from the west carrying 90% humidity, and the hot and dry south-eastern Levante with some 30% of humidity, at the origin of the shaping of these vineyards, home to one of Europe’s most emblematic wines, Sherry.
MOROCCO's port cities were part of the sea trading routes that existed all around the Mediterranean since thousands of years. When the Romans came, they called Morocco ‘New Africa’, established it as an important grain supplier to Rome and constructed for that purpose a solid 19’000 km long road network. The setting up of vineyards in Morocco had been started by Phoenician settlers though. But of course, Rome’s love for lifestyle everywhere they took foot, made vine planting the other important reminiscence of Roman presence in Morocco. After Rome’s fading influence during the 3rd century AD, winemaking got neglected for quite a long time, to be revived seriously only by French vintners that emigrated to Morocco when under French protectorate until Morocco’s independence.
The last thirty years have been decisive for today’s name and fame of Moroccan wines. Motivated by substantial state support, Morocco again attracted French winemakers and investors, some of them sons of the soil who got back to their country of birth. They are cultivating mainly Rhône valley grape varietals as Carignan, Cinsaut, Alicante and Grenache, also Clairette blanche and Muscat, some Chardonnay, Chenin blanc and Sauvignon blanc.
The wealth of soil diversity, vineyard locations in the foothills of the sheltering Atlas Mountains, the cooling winds from the Atlantic together with the excellence of French winemaking have created the successful renaissance of Morrocan wines.
MALLORCA, with a strategic location in the Mediterranean, the island is placed in the middle of an ancient commercial sea route, an important stop for ships that assumed trade between Northern Africa, the Southern part of the Iberian Peninsula and southern France and Rome. Different cultures have passed here and left their visible prints. Mallorca is and has always been a well-visited island.
Mallorca’s excellent terroir and its excellent wine, known to the Romans, Plinius the Elder, the Roman author of the Encyclopedia about Nature and Agriculture, mentioned it, telling us that thousands of amphorae with Mallorcan wine reached Rome by the first century AD regularly. The quite warm and dry climate regularly alleviated by a gentle breeze from the sea, in the summer, and the short and moderate cold winters, favor viticulture. Many wine makers cultivate Mallorca’s local grapes, Manto Negro, Callet, Fogoneu and Gorgollasa for the reds, Prensal for the whites. And many proudly cultivate their vineyards organically or bio dynamically, the new generation of wine growers who have rejuvenated the old tradition of viniculture pursuing with grace and conviction the islands’ cultural identity. Mallorcan wine is the one special product offering you something of famously high quality from this island, true taste of Mallorca!
TAVEL in Southern France produces France’s flagship Rosés since early times, when French royalty discovered the vineyards that produce this unique wine style. Quite robust for Rosé, they have unique depth of flavor with an intensive dark color of pink.
Situated in the South-West of Orange and North-West of Avignon, Tavel’s soils are relatively poor in nutrition, stony and sandy with chalky round pebbles, providing excellent drainage. The vines, in search of water and nutrients, develop strong root systems, a prerequisite for vigorous plants contributing significantly to the production of this high-quality wine. During the hot and dry summers of this Southern France sub-region, the locally typical grapes, Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Clairette have no difficulty in reaching full phenolic ripeness.
Tavel’s very distinct Rosés are excellent to be drunk as a more complex alternative to white wines during the hot summer months. Having mesmerized people for a long time, Ernest Hemingway has been one of them.
CORSICA, the greenest of all Mediterranean islands, authentic, wild and pure, also called the ‘Island of Beauty’, is the Mediterranean’s fourth largest. Greeks and Romans have passed here, a succession of colonization and invasions, before it was part of the Republic of Genova. Then Corsica gained its independence, it was in 1755, short lived, as it was re-conquered by France in 1769, which as a matter of coincidence was the year of birth of the island’s most famous son, Napoléon Bonaparte. Green is the island’s color, in many shades everywhere from chestnut tree forests to the maquis, from centennial Corsican pine trees, called pinus nigra Corsicana, to emerald green mountain lakes and silver green tones of olive trees. Add to that the turquoise, transparent water of the sea, the white sand and the scenic bays surrounded by rocks and mountains. Corsica is an island that surprises anyone with its rich nature.
The variety of its natural beauty is matched by the variety of its terroirs and grapes, resulting in many different wine styles and flavors. Sciaccarellu is one of two leading red grapes, along with Niellucciu, which is identical genetically to Sangiovese. Whereas Niellucciu is the main red grape in Northern Corsica, where soils have more limestone than granite, Sciaccarellu grows in the dry granite soils of Corsica’s South. There are also Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah and Carignan, the grapes typical to Southern France, as well as various other indigenous grapes carefully preserved. Whether from indigenous or international grapes, Corsica’s wines all express a sense of place comparable to the singular nature of its people and its culture.
TUSCANY in Italy, one of those places just perfect for growing grapes! It isn’t because they were among the first or because luck made them famous – no, winemakers have for centuries through hard work identified specific sites with unique geological compositions to develop vines capable to give excellent results. The many different sub-soils are the perfect home for several grape varieties, especially for Sangiovese, the dominant grape variety of the wines we have included in our collection. Soils of limestone and chalk, made primarily from fossilized seashells, present richness in minerals decisive for a distinct wine quality. In these hills, Etruscans introduced winemaking during the 8th century BC. Organically managed vineyards are particularly enabled of continuing their legacy, the production of excellent wine expressing this land’s unique soul and history.
SICILIA, the Mediterranean island of Sicily, a land where layers of history have created a unique blend of art, architecture and way of life. Wine has been produced since the arrival of the first colonizers, the Greeks. This was during the 8th century BC. After centuries of foreign rulers, some of them shifting their focus away from wine, today's Sicilians have rediscovered their uniqueness, their fertile soils, their indigenous grape varieties and their expertise in wine making, the few millennia old wine culture. A new generation of wine makers has emerged and revived the wine scene. The many different climates, altitudes and soils of the island create a very diverse range of wines, many of them naturally farmed and produced. It is by no means exaggerated when qualifying the new Sicilian wines as belonging to the world’s most precious wine jewels.
EUBOEA, the second largest island in Greece and sixth largest in the Mediterranean, is located northeast of Attica and extending over almost 175 km parallel to continental Greece, from which it is separated only by a narrow channel. Its landscape is a true blend of contrasts, with imposing mountains, cultivated fields, century-old olive groves, vineyards, forest-covered hills, beautiful beaches and the endless blue of the Aegean Sea. Vines have been growing on this island since antiquity, the slaty soil characterized by diverse geological formations of volcanic nature encouraging it. The climate is hot and dry with regular freshness originated by the sea's breezes. We are in an area devoted to white grapes, the main variety being Savatiano, which covers about 4/5 of the overall stretch. There are also vineyards with Rhoditis, Assyrtiko, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
The Greek island of LESVOS - Greek civilization is admired for its philosophers, scientists, politicians, their thinking and innovation by creating democracy, a lot of what has shaped the world as we know it today. Wine was this important part of ancient Greece’s refinement, a central place in social life that created lifestyle for generations to come. Having exported their winemaking skills all over the Mediterranean basin, Greeks were actually the first having realized the importance of local ecosystems on the characteristics of wine, and hence created the first system of Appellations of Origin.
On the island of Lesvos a distinctive ancestral grape variety, Chidiriotiko, is grown in vineyards located in the crater of a volcano. Soils containing naturally up to 7% compounds of sulfur and copper sulfate facilitate organic viticulture offering protection against diseases for the vineyard and the wine. Lesvos is an island known for having produced one of the most distinguished and expensive wines in classical Greek times. Some thirty years ago the Chidiriotiko grapes have been rediscovered and the wine made of it has gained awards internationally ever since, part of the many Greek wines having made their name in the contemporary Fine Wine World.
In CRETE, the biggest island of Greece and the Mediterranean’s number five in size, one of the earliest known wine press has been discovered in an unearthed Minoan villa from around 1600 BC next to some storage rooms full of clay jars for storing the wine. Europe’s first civilization did produce wine and exported it across the Mediterranean basin, as jars, the amphorae, testify, found a little everywhere in the coastal regions and bearing Cretan insignia.
Crete today makes wine out of eleven native grapes, Vidiano, Vilana, Thrapsathiri, Malvasia di Candia, Moschato Spinas, Dafni and Plyot , for the whites, and Kotsifali, Mandilari, Liatiko and Romeiko for the reds. About 80% of their vineyards are planted with these native grapes, the rest being of international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. To get to taste those indigenous grape varietal wines is what makes any wine tasting so special. The wines represent Crete’s unique terroir that impregnate the wines with a special aromatic profile.
Throughout the island, a mountain range is crossing, functioning like a shield to the vineyards, which mostly lie on its Northern side. Together with the often rather windy weather conditions, they represent an important cooling factor during the hot and dry summer months. Many wines, especially whites, have a distinctive freshness, some more energetic, some more delicate. And many are developing in the glass this special perfume of Greek island wines, a kind of magical smell that will remind you at home of the Greek summer, the tasty food and the seducing oriental aromas in the air.
The island that once staged Aphrodite’s legendary birth, where she miraculously rose out of a foaming, deep blue sea, is CYPRUS, one of the ancient homes of winemaking. Cyprus’ many small, family owned wineries produce top class wines, more than ever out of indigenous grape varieties. Their vineyards are of the few in Europe that have been spared by phylloxera, meaning that Cypriot wines are all made out of ungrafted vines.
The unique sweet fortified wine called Commandaria was already around at Aphrodite’s time, used in rituals for the goddess of love, beauty and pleasure. Still today late harvest red Mavro grapes and white Xynesteris are sun dried and let to ferment for months before being fortified and maturing in casks by the traditional manna aging system, younger wine on top of older stocks, similar to the solera system of Sherry in Jerez. Cyprus is increasing its number of small production wines constantly and many varietal wines are available. One of them is made with Maratheftiko grapes, a kind of Cypriot Pinot Noir, intense and rich with soft tannins and its characteristic aromas of coffee and cacao. Cypriot wines represent rediscovered individuality in the rich Mediterranean wine heritage.
LEBANON is a fascinating destination, rich in historical landmarks, pristine beaches, scenic mountainous, hilly regions and a delicious cuisine! And of course the vineyards and the wine, a tradition rooted in this part of the Mediterranean for over 5000 years. Lebanon corresponds more or less to the ancient land of the Phoenicians. They cultivated the vines and we know that from the 2nd century AD onwards, they exported amphorae with wine throughout the Mediterranean basin. The Phoenicians are actually at the origin of the word wine, a derivation from a Phoenician word describing the fermentation of grapes. While they might not have invented viticulture, it was part of their life as it is today.
Modern Lebanese wine history has been strongly influenced by France already before the time Lebanon was placed under French mandate after World War I. Some famous wineries have been created then, some already before. Under French mandate Beirut got famous for its vibrant life and for decades to come it was named 'Paris of the Middle East'. Wine was and is part of a distinct art de vivre in this part of the world.
300 days of sunshine, a privilege of all regions around the Mediterranean, ripen the grapes and today Lebanese wines are back on many international tables. The wine industry, still heavily influenced by the French, is reflected in grape varietals as Cinsault, Carignon, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Mourvèdre, aside indigenous grapes as Obaideh, Merwah and Youssefi, white grapes. Though winemaking goes far back to the Phoenicians, who exported it allover the Mediterranean, including to Egypt during the reign of the Pharaohs, history was not linear and not all cultures having passed through the region have cultivated vines. Monasteries kept up the noble tradition after the Romans and Jesuit fathers introduced new grape varieties, high quality vines, when they recognized the ideal climate and soil present in many different parts of Lebanon. The new generation of wineries, mostly family businesses, is responsible for having proudly reintroduced the elegant and attractive Lebanese wines into the contemporaneous wine world, accessible for us all.