The dark beauty of ancient Phellóe

The dark beauty of ancient Phellóe

Greetings from Devon! If you love a truly authentic, rare and remarkable wine then you are reading the right newsletter. Today's discovery is exactly why we got into this business, and we can't think of a better drink for the beginning of the end of winter. Read on and don't miss it...

We've been selling the wines of Tetramythos for a while. They are doing great work in the northern Peloponnese, making low-intervention, organic wines which speak of their origins with amazing clarity. Their natural Retsina is an old favourite. But their rarest and most intriguing red, Phellóe, has previously eluded us. It is made in tiny quantities - just 2-3 barrels a year - from a three acre plot in the mountainous region of ancient Phellóe. This is an old vineyard of bush vines (30% ungrafted), a mix of native varieties - Agiorgitiko, Black of Kalavryta and Mavrodaphne - which has been looked after in the age-old way for decades. It has never been sprayed and is farmed organically, as it always has been.

These old vines produce a precious low yield, which Tetramythos handle with the utmost care. The must is fermented spontaneously in the open air, and the wine aged in old oak barrels for two years before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. It's pretty much as hands-off as it gets, and the wine shines. It is deep, dark and complex, but has a freshness to it which makes it far from heavy. It's a joy to drink.

Deep garnet. Savoury, dark, slightly meaty black fruit, perhaps a touch of smoky/spicy reduction (in a good way). A lovely combination of dark, rocky mineral aromas as well as really dark fruit, becoming delicately floral and peppery with time in the glass. Extremely complex and I haven't even put it in my mouth yet. On the palate, this is dark and dry and fine-grained, no unwanted fruit sweetness but no lack of fruit. Elegant and finely textured, with a restrained but long, fresh finish. A real dark beauty. I am not sure how it will age as this is the first time I have tasted it but the balance of fruit and structure suggest it will age well, if you can resist it now. Julia Harding MW, JancisRobinson.com

Some of the scant three barrels made of the 2017 vintage is on its way to us now and available to pre-order. This really is a remarkable, rare and authentic wine from a producer doing all the right things.