News Press
Apr 2019

Greek Dream – Handelszeitung, Rudolf Trefzer

“Excellent wines are produced on the Cyclades. In particular, a wine-growing project on the island of Tinos is outstanding.” says Rudolf Trefzer, in the Swiss weekly newspaper Handelszeitung and he continues

“Dreaming big can be aspiring, however, many of such dreams remain a fantasy.  Nevertheless, dreams can come true: This is the case when someone pursues a seemingly crazy idea with such conviction and determination and thus manages to defy the odds. Alexandre Avatangelos is a philosopher, theologian, businessman and successful dreamer. He has declared it as his personal goal to revive viticulture on the Cyclades island of Tinos, just north of Mykonos, and to produce premium quality, terroir driven wines from local greek varietals.

Alexandre Avantangelos started his wine-growing project called T-Oinos about twenty years ago on the island ofTinos. At this time, viticulture had nearly completely vanished on the island. Avantangelos planted his first vines in 2002, focusing on the white noble variety Assyrtiko which has its origin in Santorini, as well as the red variety Mavrotragano. Assyrtiko is considered the best white grape variety in Greece and is today successfully cultivated both on the islands and the mainland. Like Assyrtiko and Athiri, Mavrotragano is one of the traditional greek grape varietals but its cultivation has declined in present times. Since Venetian times, the sweet Vinsanto of Santorini is produced from the Mavrotragano grapes.  The Mavrotragano varietal also produces excellent dry, full-bodied yet elegant red wines. Both Assyrtiko and Mavrotragano have adapted well to the hot, dry climate and express the characteristics of the terroir in an impressive way.

Spectacular landscape

And that is precisely what Alexandre Avatangelos and his team are striving for without any compromise: “We do not want to construct wines, but rather capture the terroir and the energy of this spectacular landscape in the bottle.” Tinos is characterized by unspoiled nature and fascinating hillsides. The slopes were once intensively cultivated, however the farming of these stoney agricultural terraces have now decreased to a minimum. Near the village of Falatados there is an archaic and wild high plateau, where massive granite rocks that have been exposed to the harsh wind and climate are scattered. The Assyrtiko vineyard is eight hectares in size and the vines grow on granite soils with a sandy surface, in a high planting density of 11,500 sticks per hectare. The Mavrotragano vines, on the other hand, are cultivated only a few kilometers away on a terraced, south-facing plot. T-Oinos’ two premium single varietal wines, a white and a red Clos Stegasta, are sourced from these two organically cultivated sites.

The white Clos Stegasta was first produced in 2008. The first vintages of this wine already revealed the power of this Assyrtiko: not only has it the potential to become one of the best of its kind, but also to compete with some of the best wines of the world. Whereas the first vintages were produced in an internationally appealing style, the white Clos Stegasta, produced under the aegis of the French oenologist Stéphane Derenoncourt since the year 2017, now presents itself as an independent wine with very fine precision, a sparkling radiance, crisp juiciness and a unique salty minerality. The 2017 red Clos Stegasta, scheduled to be released in the next few weeks, has also gained considerable independence and structure since it was first produced in 2013. With its profound bouquet of black berries, cherries, cocoa, tobacco and spices as well as a dense body with both, warmth and freshness and minerality, it reveals its true power even in its youth. “Truly fine wines are those that tingle in your toes and don’t evaporate as early as in the throat,” said Gérard Margeon, head sommelier of Alain Ducasse’s restaurants in an interview. He also counts the two Clos Stegasta crus among these fine wines. That’s a serious credential!

T-Oinos Clos Stegasta wines are available from Cave SA (www.cavesa.ch)