The Bastion

It’s no secret that, for some years, Akakies has been The Pink for me – still or sparkling, my favourite Greek rose wine. But this year, at the urging of the same people who got me hooked on that Kyr-Yiannis staple, I tried La Tour Melas Idylle. Produced in Achinos, between Athens and Thessaloniki, on Kyros Melas’ estate, it’s paler, more elegant and more grown-up than Akakies. It is Bordeaux in style, with a Provençal air about it. On a Greek vacation spent in two towers and the shadows of a bastion, it seemed even more fitting to try this wine and picture it here – on a September evening as dusk fell.


In The Pink: Akakies

In my less-than-humble-yet-often-voiced opinion, Greek wine has done nothing but improve in recent years. Greece is now in my top three of wine-producing nations, together with France and Italy. This is my personal view, by the way, I make no claim to be expert in anything beyond my own tastes. Most happily of all, Greece has provided me with some of my favourite, fun, pink wines. The name of today’s pink is Akakies.

The wine is produced in the Amyndeon Appelation in Northwestern Greece in an area with warm summers and cold winters, with an overall mild continental climate. It was inspired, apparently, by the acacias grown around the Xinomavro vineyards of Amyndeon. It has a scent of strawberry which would lead you to believe it to be sweet – not at all. Once tasted, the strawberry gives way to rhubarb or sour cherry (depending who you ask) and a very dry finish.

In short, it is a pretty pink for me. For the past few years, on coming back to Rhodes, I’ve been happy to readily and easily access a supply in town. Good news, people. For my patience and insistence, I’ve been treated to tastings of other pinks, but from Provence. Crisp, elegant, dry and just blushing in classiness, they may be. But it’s Akakies which makes me smile out loud – so it still has my heart.

in 2012, there was a hitch. The founder of Kυρ-Γιάννης ( Γιάννης Μπουτάρης) may well have been mayor of Thessaloniki, but (I was told) there were problems with the supply chain. The result was repeated visits to the local supplier (who got me hooked in the first place) and then, happiness, the discovery of two other local stockists (both of which sold Akakies cheaper, and one of which was only five minutes’ walk from my apartment). Cheers!

This was first published on axrhodes on 16/08/2013


Autumn’s Falling

I love this time of year. Autumn is the best season by far. I have a personal interest, mine and my sister’s birthdays fall here. So, it is the start of my own new year (though I would also put in a vote for March 25, but that’s another post right there). I am a child of the northern hemisphere where this is the start of the academic year and a time I associate with new beginnings. Why celebrate on January 1, in the middle of winter when it’s still dark and cold and there’s nothing new except the number? It’s an abacus new year, is what that is.

So, when does autumn officially start? August 24 is when. That’s my new year’s day. In the following week fall the birthdays of three people I love dearly, a real cause for celebration. By September 1, I’m in full free Fall mode. This year, here on that date, the weather shifted to make way for the new season. The wind, blowing so strong that last week of August, dropped to a cool breeze. The sea came down off its high horse, the haze of humidity cleared and the sun pierced the view. Suddenly, colours are more intense, light is brighter and vistas are sharper. The sun and the sea are closer now; the one has warmed the other’s heart and we move effortlessly from land to water and back.

From my bedroom, I can now see the coast of Turkey in clear detail over a newly-ironed Aegean. Even at night, the lights twinkling in that village opposite, outside Europe, appear to be only one or two streets down from the windmills. In the evening, as the sun sets over the yard and darkness falls, it’s still a pleasure to sit outside in the yard with my glass of Akakies. But now I entertain the idea of a jacket when that cool breeze blows smoothly through the bougainvillea. Night time is a joy – no more need for the fan or the ritual cold shower before bed – it’s now the right temperature to sleep under a sheet with the windows wide open.

From long before, this season brings back memories of blackberrying, rambling through hedgerows and scrumping apples. It recalls the smell and taste of my grandmother’s bramble jelly and my mother’s apple pie (still, and always, the best-ever-in-the-history-of-the-world-no-debate-full-stop). It reminds me of Hallowe’en before it was hijacked by Hallmark and Bonfire Night before home fireworks were frowned on by Health and Safety Committees. The crispness of leaves as we kicked our way to school and home again, the crunching of home-made toffee apples, the starched-stiffness of new school uniforms; all this I remember with fondness. As autumn passed on, and my sister’s birthday came and went, there was the surreptitious countdown to Christmas, yet December 25 still seemed an age away…

Autumn, always a joy.