TSELEPOS WINERY | Mantineia Arcadia - November 10th, 2017
posted on 28/12/2017

Domaine Tselepos is a real gem of the Peloponnesian vineyard and the Greek wine in general, located at Rizes Arkadias fourteen kilometers from Tripoli on the road to Paralio Astros. Founder Yiannis Tselepos comes from Cyprus and in 1975 -after the Turkish invasion in his homeland- went to France trying to build his future. He decided to study oenology in Burgundy, Dijon in particular, a place that has determined his mentality of wine finesse. When he received his degree he worked in France, Spain and Cyprus before working as a consultant oenologist in various projects in the Peloponnese in 1982. He was charmed by Moschofilero, being an exotic, fine and delicate variety; so he decided to remain in the area buying his first vineyards in 1989 on the eastern slopes of Parnonas mountain range. The purchase and cultivation of privately-owned vineyards in a region where most producers buy grapes is an important fact differentiating Tselepos from others.

 

Arriving at Domaine Tselepos, in Rizes Arcadias

 

The functional, contemporary and stylish Tselepos winery from above [Source]

 

 

Winery buildings blend harmoniously into the landscape

 

At the Estate’s entrance


It takes two hours driving from Athens to reach Tselepos Estate gate, driving through countless alternations in the breathtaking Arkadian landscape. I was welcomed by Yiannis Tselepos himself, with whom I had the pleasure to re-discover the Estate. Wanting to take advantage of the day, we embarked on a 4X4 to tour the vineyards and better understand the land that gave birth to the now well-known brands of the winery.

 

Tselepos Winery is located two hours from Athens, fifteen minutes from Tripoli and just 30 minutes from the sea

 

KOKKINOMYLOS

The visitor does not expect the vineyard to be that close to the winery: leaving the back gate, through a landscape of plane trees, running waters and the dense Arkadian vegetation, we admired an old flour mill from 1785, completely restored by Yiannis Tselepos and being fully functional today. The red clay soils vineyard that surrounds the flour mill gave it its name: Kokkinomylos (kokkino = red in Greek, Mylos = mill in Greek)! A beautiful, exemplary 8 hectares single vineyard lies over the mill from which the homonymous wine is produced. It is exclusively planted with a specially selected clone of Merlot from France. Merlot finds an ideal expression in these rich soils based on red clay, giving them fleshy fruit, intensity and finesse.

 

Part of the impressive Kokkinomylos vineyard

 

 

Yiannis Tselepos driving through Kokkinomylos

 

Hard work in the vineyard is required to produce wines with character

 

 

The old flour mill of 1765, known as Kokkinomylos

 

The mill is fully operational due to the restoration of Tselepos Estate

 

We drive uphill and the soil composition changes. Above Kokkinomylos the soil contains significant amounts of marble. For this reason the locals have named this plot 'Marmarias' (Marmaro = marble in Greek) at an altitude of 750 meters. The ideal variety here is Chardonnay, which acquires a tropical as well as cool character on this land. Marmarias Chardonnay is Yiannis’s Tselepos reference in his studies in Dijon, Burgundy, a region that taught white wine vinification in oak barrels and Chardonnay to the world.

The highest point of this particular slope is dominated by schist soils. These horizontal stones dissolve easily when the vine roots move deeper into the ground. This schist land used to house beehives and was known by the name "Melissopetra" (melissa = bee in Greek, petra = stone in Greek). Yannis Tselepos originally planned to plant Moschofilero in this particular plot, but the rare schist would allow the perfect expression of the Alsatian Gewürztraminer, which he eventually chose. The result justifies his decision, since Melissopetra is one of the most exotic, extrovert and expressive Greek wines.

 

The vineyards of Domaine Tselepos from above (Source: Gregory's Wine Journal)

 

Moschofilero Vineyards Kokkinomylos (Merlot) Marmarias (Chardonnay) Melissopetra (Gewürztraminer)

Avlotopi (Cabernet Sauvignon)

 

 

Schist soils...

 

...contribute to the ideal expression of Gewürztraminer

 

 

Yiannis Tselepos holding a small schist piece

 

A small sample of the rich Arcadian vegetation

 

The vines are cultivated on clay soils with ideal drainage

 

Average altitude is 750 meters. Low temperatures lead to slow maturation of the grapes.

 

It is clever to learn from the best and Yiannis Tselepos is indeed one of them. Unlike many other wine producers, a vertical geological study and soil analysis prior to planting was carried out in order to understand the qualitative potential of each area, which variety was best suited to that climate and soil, which clone, etc. Tselepos did not think "I want to make a Chardonnay" and he did not cultivate it anywhere. He planted Chardonnay in Marmarias because it was found that this particular earth was ideal for this variety and style and this is what he did with all the wines of the Estate. It is also worth mentioning that the beautiful wine names are not compatible, trivial or superficial brand names invented by the producer or a Marketing agency. They are based on the real names of the vineyards, as the locals call them, and that is also meaningful.

Leaving Melissopetra and moving towards the private church of St. Trifonas, we were surrounded by many acres of vineyards of the local grape Moschofilero. An aromatic variety with finesse, high acidity and low alcohol that can surprise the unsuspecting international taster who has identified Greece with the summer heat and sun. Here, in the heart of Arcadian land, Moschofilero finds its ideal expression.

 

Impressive vineyard, as seen from the courtyard of St. Trifonas

 

 

The pruning season every February starts with a liturgy at St. Trifonas

 

Yiannis Tselepos outside the church

 

 

Inside the church of St. Tryphon

 

View of the vineyard from inside the church


The team of Tselepos Estate is also worth mentioning, as everyone has contributed to promote the wines. Initially, Amalia Tselepos, Yiannis’s Tselepos wife, is in charge of public relations and communication. Oenologist Takis Smyrniotis is responsible for the vinification and management of the vineyard and has been working in the Estate since it was founded, while famous oenologist Thanos Fakorelis acts as a consultant.

 

 

Pupitres for sparkling wine making

 

Second fermentation in the bottles according to the traditional method

 

 

Double - circulatory system (hot-cold) offers independent temperature in each tank. So the winemaker can practice skin contact in a tank and MLF in the next one without a problem.

 

The winery takes care of distributing their products

 

After a guided tour at the beautiful winery, I tasted four of their wines (notes below). Once harvested, all grapes in all wineries remain in a refrigerator for 24 hours to maintain their aromatic potential.

 

Amalia Vintage 2014 (100% Moschofilero) - Traditional method Amalia Brut sparkling is here offered as a vintage version, plus with more maturity. It gives aromas of lime, lemon, green apple, brioche notes, flower blossom, lychee, sweet spices (anise, clove) and is more fruity than autolytic despite sur lie for 24 months. Creamy mousse, thin and continuous bubbles, also more floral, exotic and spicy on the palate. High acidity and moderate alcohol (12%). Whole bunch pressing for all sparkling wines.


Approximate retail price: € 22-24

 

Blanc de Gris 2016 (100% Moschofilero) - A selected Moschofilero that fermentation starts in tanks and is completed in oak barrels, giving it extra structure and complexity. Exquisite exotic nose with litchi, jasmine, starfruit, lime, grapefruit, flowers and rose petals. Moderate alcohol (12.5%), palate with extract, volume, structure and concentration. Its high acidity and aromatic profile make it ideal to pair with food and especially Asian cuisine: noodles, Thai stir-fry, curry dishes, samosas and spring rolls with peppers. Wonderfully elegant and fine, with a long finish.

Approximate retail price: € 12-14 // Annual production: 10,000 bottles

 

 

The four versions of Moschofilero (L-R): Amalia Brut (sparkling), Amalia 2013 Vintage (sparkling), Mantinia Tselepos (tank-fermented), Blanc de Gris (barrel fermented)

 

The four versions of Agiorgitiko from Domaine Driopi (L-R): Nemea Tselepos, Driopi Reserve, Driopi Rosé, Amalia Rosé (sparkling)

 

The 4 single-vineyard wines from International varieties and Dilofos (L-R): Marmarias (Chardonnay), Melissopetra (Gewürztraminer), Dilofos (Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot), Avlotopi (Cabernet Sauvignon), Kokkinomylos (Merlot)

 

Canava Chryssou Tselepos Santorini 2016 (100% Assyrtiko) - This wine is the result of Yiannis Tselepos collaboration with the Chryssos family in Santorini with the later offering their own vineyard in Pyrgos and Emporio (12 hectares). The rejuvenation of the 12-hectare age-old vineyard has resulted in a wine with high extract, purity of fruit, lime character and minerality. A little shy on the nose, still very young. Nervous palate, high acidity, creamy body, moderate (+) alcohol, high concentration and long aftertaste. An excellent wine that will fully show its world class status four years after the harvest.

Approximate retail price: € 18-21 // Annual production: 12,000 bottles

 

Driopi Reserve single vineyard

 

Driopi Reserve 2014 (100% Agiorgitiko) - In 2003 Giannis Tselepos purchased a selected 8,5 hecteres vineyard in Koutsi Nemea at an altitude of 380 meters, making up Driopi Estate. Driopi Reserve comes from a 50-year-old vines single vineyard. The long, 25-day extraction and 12-month maturation in new oak barrels have created a structured wine that retain unaltered the character of agiorgitiko: sweet aromas of sour cherries, vanilla, hazelnuts, red cherry and oak notes. Gentle mouth, medium (+) acidity, ripe, sweet tannins with roundness and aromatic sweetness. Very good structure on the palate, moderate (+) length.

Approximate retail price: € 16-18 // Annual production: 15,000 bottles

 

Peloponnese offers one of the most beautiful driving experiences in Greece

 

Tselepos Estate with an annual production of 450,000 bottles in Arcadia, investments in Nemea and Santorini and the production of unique, authentic wines from privately owned vines is one of the most remarkable producers and exporters of Greek wine, whose work will fascinate us for many years. If you are in Arcadia, it is worth visiting the Estate and try the wines that have raised the varieties of the Peloponnese to new quality levels.

 

Gregory Kontos, DipWSET


Wine writer and taster, sommelier graduate and WSET Diploma holder, with an appreciation for food, traveling, music, friends and bon vivant things in general. Founder of Aegean Wine Selections, a Company focused in Greek wine exports. He is married to Stavroula Mariamou and they have a son. 

 

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