This wine grape was rescued from near extinction, a good thing, because it produces delightfully light, fresh floral wines.
I had my first taste when the Greek winery Ktima Gerovassiliou staged a tasting at Ledlow in downtown Los Angeles. Ktima means "estate," so now you have at least one Greek word in your wine vocabulary. The wines from Gerovassiliou have just arrived in Los Angeles. They're not widely distributed, but if you come across one it's worth a try.
Here are three made with Malagousia.
Ktima Gerovassiliou Estate White, PGI Epanomi, Greece, 2014 (above). This wine is 52% Malagousia. The rest is Assyrtiko, a white wine grape from Santorini. Epanomi is the region, and PGI means Protected Geographical Indication.
Malagousia fell into disrepute because it produced flabby wines--until planted on the correct soil, said Thrasyvoulos Giantsidis, chemist-enologist with Gerovassiliou. This blend was tank fermented. It would be nice with a seafood salad, American style or Thai.
Ktima Gerovassiliou Malagousia, PGI Epanomi, Greece, 2014 (above). Aromatic and floral, this wine is pure Malagousia, vinified bone dry. A small portion was fermented in neutral oak. Both wines are 13.5% alcohol. And both are at the lower end of the price scale for Gerovassiliou wines, $20 and $23 respectively.
Ktima Gerovassiliou Late Harvest Malagousia, PGI Epanomi, Greece 2009 (above). A honey-like wine that is 100% Malagousia, it has "a little less residual sugar than the average dessert wine, so you can enjoy it with your dessert," Giantsidis said. The price is $35.
Other Gerovassiliou white wines are Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Viognier. An Estate Red from 2010 (above) combines Syrah and Merlot with Limnio, which, said Giantsidis, is "the oldest red Greek grape." The idea behind the blend was "to show that Greek grapes can do well." How well? It's "a perfect marriage," he said. The price is $36.
Avaton, from 2008 (above), really shows off indigenous grapes. It's a blend of Limnio, Mavroudi and Mavrotragano. "Mavro" means black, which indicates the depth of color. "As single varietals, these would be very harsh," Giantsidis said. Combined, they yield a wine with smoky, charred aspects, perfect with barbecue or with spetzofai, a hearty Greek dish of sausage and peppers in tomato sauce. It sells for $60.
These superior reds are produced in a region that is especially suited to red wines, said Giantsidis (at the right). Located in the north of Greece near Thessaloniki, Epanomi has a Mediterranean climate, he said.
Although these reds were excellent, 68 % of the wine made in Greece is white, Giantsidis said. It follows that Gerovassiliou's biggest sellers at home are the two dry Malagousia wines.