Monemvasia Winery: Rediscovering Peloponnese’s Vinous Past

The Byzantine Island City of Monemvasia

As far back as the 12th century, Monemvasia was renown for its sweet white wine called Malvasia, but production ceased in the 16th century during Ottoman rule. Almost seven centuries later, in 1997, Giorgos Tsimpidis, just graduated from the University of Patra, was inspired to recreate the legendary Malvasia.  He and his wife Elli created a winery, located near picturesque Monemvasia, and sought out local grape varieties like Monemvasia, Kydonitsa, Asproudi and Mavroudi.  Today, Giorgos and Elli are joined by their daughters, Marialena and Anastasia, and enologist Andreas Andresakis as they recreate the wines of yesteryear.

As part of our preparation for the upcoming report on The Wines of Peloponnese, we recently had the pleasure of visiting the Tsimpidis family at their winery located north of the Byzantine town of Monemvasia.  Their nearby vineyards are located 10 km from the sea at 250-300m altitude. Yields are kept very low, and all farming, including harvest, are done by hand.  As you can see in our reviews, the average quality of their wines is excellent.

Byron’s Wine Shop on Monemvasia

We tasted Monemasia’s well-crafted, authentic wines made from local grape varieties, including the infamous, sweet Monemvasia Malvasia, which is now a PDO, thanks to the work of Giorgios and many others. After the tasting, we joined family friend Byron Veras on a tour of the old, island city of Monemvasia, including his wine shop with its original 10th century barrel vaulted ceiling.

 

Fortunately, the Monemvasia Winery wines are imported to the US by purveyors like Hogshead Wine Co., Fotis & Son, and Flying Olive Farms.

See our reviews and ratings below.

The Wines

Monemvasia 2020 300 White PGI Laconia (91)  This 50/50 blend of Kydonitsa and Assyrtiko marries the qualities of both varieties, resulting in a more complex and layered wine. The bouquet shows hints of peach, citrus and honeycomb. Round, almost unctuous, and balanced in the mouth with rich, ripe flavors. An excellent white blend. 13% alc.

Monemvasia 2020 Asproudi PGI Peloponnese (89)  A blend of different varieties, Asproudi reveals aromas of pear and citrus. It’s bright on the attack with a focused palate showing good intensity of flavor. Very dry finish with medium acidity. Sourced from old vineyards in Monemvasia. 13.5% alc.

Monemvasia 2021 Assyrtiko PGI Laconia (91)  Light yellow straw. On the spectrum of Santorini-mineral to lush-mainland tropical, this Assyrtiko falls squarely in the middle. It reveals a refined bouquet of lemon citrus, while the firm, perfectly balanced, mineral-infused palate continues with dried lemon and a stony character. A beautifully tailored wine and one of the best Assyrtikos we’ve had outside Santorini.

Monemvasia 2021 Kydonitsa PGI Laconia (92)  Yellow gold straw. Richly fragrant and especially flavorful, showing dense stone fruit with hints of lemon citrus and bright acidity. Rich flavors are beautifully interwoven with minerals to create an elegant and beautifully textured palate. Finishes clean and serious. Matured 5 months on the fine lees. pH 3.20, 13% alc. Kydonitsa is indigenous to Laconia in southeast Peloponnese. We also tasted the 2018 Kydonitsa which shows how this wines develops greater depth and complexity with a little bottle age.

Monemvasia 2021 Laludi PGI Peloponnese (90 )  Made of Moschofilero grown in Mantinia, this is a perfumed wine revealing notes of apricot and peach with a light gardenia accent. Dry and tangy on the attack, it’s bright on the palate with effusive flavors, excellent balance and tangy acidity. 3 g/L RS.

Monemvasia 2021 Monemvasia PGI Laconia (91)  Fruit rich and beautifully balanced, this is a rare, dry wine made from the Monemvasia variety. It begins with an effusive bouquet of stone fruit with an herbal edge. Stony on the attack, it shows good richness of flavor, firm phenolics, and long grippy finish. Fermented in stainless steel where it spends 6 months on the lees. 13% alc.

Monemvasia 2010 Mura Rossa PGI Peloponnese (90)  Semi-opaque ruby red. This 100% Limniona wine shows dark red fruit complemented by notes of leather and earth on the nose. These scents are mirrored on the rich, densely flavored palate. Finishes with firm tannins.

Monemvasia 2005 300 Red PGI Laconia (91) A 70/30 blend of Agiorgitiko and Mavroudi, this wine reveals the savory, well baked aromas of an older wine. It’s soft on the attack with good volume on a broad palate showing ripe, dense red fruit flavors complemented by toasted oak and leather notes. Beautifully sculpted with a fine finish. 13.5% alc.

Monemvasia 2012 Monemvasia Malvasia PDO Monemvasia Malvasia (94)  Amber colored with golden highlights, this highly fragrant, lugubrious wine reveals scents of caramel, nuts and dried sultanas. Very very flavorful with tangy acidity and layers of flavors including dried cherries. Finishes very, very long with hedonistic, sweet tangy fruit. While there’s 187 g/L RS, high acidity makes the wine just off-dry. A blend of 60% Monemvasia, 20% Kydonitsa, 10% Assyrtiko, and 10% Asproudes. 13.5% alc.  [I forgot to take a photo of the tasting, so this photos comes from Yiannis Karakasis, MW].

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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